A recent discussion with artist Ethan Meyer about his art, memories of big questions and the imagery of consciousness.
[alert style=”white”] Ethan Meyer // http://fruitinajar.wordpress.com/ [/alert]
Q1: Summarize your notion of consciousness. You seem to have a specific vision of it.
A1: I’ve always been interested in big ideas. I remember being at summer camp when I was younger and one of the camp counselors talking about time travel; that was my first encounter with an idea of such a large scale. Time travel, black holes, alternate realities, etc. The question: “what is consciousness?” seems to follow that pattern. I understand consciousness as one of those grand mysteries. There are so many more questions than answers, and I feel that these questions personify themselves in my paintings.
IF gods, demons, and other spirits exist, I believe it would be in the same realm that our consciousness is anchored to. The physical realm and the lands beyond are bridged by sentient beings; I see consciousness as something that is connected in a network as opposed to being isolated.
Q2: Much of your work deals with a mystical repeating pattern/fractal. What does this imagery mean to you?
A2: It means more than I currently understand. For me, the imagery is the visual equivalent of these grand mysteries. Mathematically/Spatially we understand fractals to be infinite, and the result of carefully tuned algorithms. Conceptually, fractals represent these same ideas, but in a different realm. When one views such imagery, it gives them a chance to have something to anchor these questions to while they ponder them. We may not be able to know the infinite, but we can catch glimpses of it.
Q3: Tell me about your interest in sacred places, ritual practices, and mystic traditions? How do these views influence your art?
A3: I credit this to being brought up in a spiritually nurturing environment. Questions and ideas concerning divinity and mystical realms were common for me since an early age. I gravitated towards Eastern philosophy, and more recently, Shamanism and ancient wisdom traditions. I understand religions, philosophies, and native practices to be the science of the spirit.
Sacred places are incredibly interesting to me. Woods and groves, monasteries and cathedrals, mountain side temples; all filled with beautiful artifacts, sacred geometry, and depictions of the divine…it’s magickal.
Q4: Who/What currently inspires you.
A4: Philosophers, Artists, and Musicians. The writings or Alan Watts, Terrence McKenna, and Kenneth Wilber have been hugely influential to how I approach my work intellectually. Jeff Soto and Charlie Immer are the painters who have influenced me the greatest aesthetically. Oddly enough I find certain musicians to give me the proper “attitude” to approach my work with. Consciousness is the corner stone of my work, so I feel that it requires for me to be in the proper mindset when working. I go through phases in musical preference, so these attitudes change periodically, as does the work. I think that is a healthy cycle. My biggest inspiration this year in music came from Grimes, Deafheaven, and MC Ride. The way the music makes me feel is very mystical in and of itself.
Q5: How often do you make work? What are the proper conditions for you to be creative?
A5: I try to be very flexible. I think it is unhealthy for (some) artists to become stuck in ritual art making. I do my best to act on inspiration as it comes, but I could be better about it. Keeping a sketchbook/thought journal is the best way to keep the flow continuous. Inspiration is similar to a digestive system, what you feed it and how you maintain it can lead to great benefit or consequence. I usually have 1-3 projects being worked on…consequently leading to a lack of planning. I learn from mistakes pretty quickly (I make a lot!), and I will rotate between painting, sculpture, and digital to allow time for reflection.
Q6: Do you have any personal rituals?
A6: I view exercise as a sort of ritual in a way. Physical exertion can take your mind to some interesting places. Exercise and meditation would be my only rituals. Physical and mental training are two sides of the same coin.
Q7: What is your ultimate noble art plan? If you had the resources to make anything tomorrow: What would it be?
A7: KAWS and Murakami represent the sort of work I wish I could do! Large, colorful sculptures! Also FriendsWithYou have done a lot of incredible instillation pieces. My ultimate plan? Make my work an entire experience. I want people to view these questions face to face and larger than life. I really admire Alex Grey’s vision with the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. It shows that art can be spirit affirming and transcendental. If you want to study the history of the human spirit, study Art History. This is why Art is so powerful; it reflects our purest desires and highest potential (if filled with this intent). I rarely share the art that I make while in a negative mindset. Not only are the works less interesting to look at, but I believe that they are somewhat “radioactive”. I am not trying to share sadness or frustration with others, so I approach my work in a very thoughtful way.
Q8: What is the earliest memory you have of art?
A8: Dr. Seuss! Also playdough. I hope things like that never become outdated. I guess that would really be my earliest memory of creativity; but Dr. Seuss definitely had an influence in my work. I was always fond of drawing. I would make up a story with my scribbles of dragons, giant catapults, and knights. Anything that I found fantastic or funny I would draw. I had a friend when I was younger who would draw the most insane looking cartoon faces; naturally I wanted to make drawings that were even more intense. Art has always been fun for me.
Q9: Share the most recent dream you remember.
A9: The only one I can recall at the moment occurred several months ago. The specifics escape me, but most of my vivid dreams either center around me being pursued or meeting someone of significance. There is always a peculiar feeling that accompanies these sort of dreams once I wake. I believe dreams can be prophetic, depending how knowledgeable you are in seeing the significance of a particular dream. People like to believe that every dream they have hold meaning; I disagree. I feel that dreams are something similar to the mind flipping television stations, but every once and a while you stumble across a broadcast sending a very important message. Lucid dreaming is very closely related to meditation and astral projection; it all inhabits a similar place. Again this has to do with consciousness and what the further implications of always being able to send and receive messages are.
Q10. Anything else we should know? One last moment…
A10: Hmmm I always love sharing music. Here are my top albums of 2013! (in no particular order) I feel that listening to the music I listen to while creating my work is the best insight one can possibly have. It describes my mindset.
1) The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
2) The Underachievers – Indigoism
3) Autechre – Exai
4) The Drones – I See Seaweed
5) DEATH GRIPS – GOVERNMENT PLATES
6) DEAFHEAVEN – SUNBATHER
7) Sigur Ros – Kveikur
8) Killer Mike x El-P – Run the Jewels
9) Danny Brown – Old
10) Flatbush Zombies – Better Off Dead
I’m stopping myself at 10, because I think that is a nice number. That’s all!