“Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”– Leonardo da Vinci
I haven’t heard this quote before. By some strange coincidence I accidentally came across it only a few weeks ago, as I was thinking of writing a blog post about the meaning behind my latest artwork (you can read more about it here, here and here). This quote sums it up perfectly.
In most of my work, I take a scientific image that inspires me, create a piece of art based on that image and then find a fitting name for it. In this case, I did it backwards by starting out with the title – “Wilting Mind”.
The truth about this work
While I wrote parts of this post a few months ago, I did not feel comfortable with publishing it until now.
Do you ever feel like your brain cells are getting wasted and you mind’s potential wilts from being used for work you care little about? This was the original idea behind “Wilting Mind”. In contrast to my usual bright and colorful work, it consists of white translucent beads, symbolizing fatigue and mental atrophy. The bright red flower inside shows a stark contrast of the fire that once burned there, until it was put out. What would it take to resurrect it?
Until now, this is how I felt on most days. I was working at a job that I used as a technique-learning opportunity, but the projects themselves were of little interest to me.
When I was laid off from my previous job due to company’s financial hardships, I thought that I would be fine with working at a contract research organization. I have always (secretly) thought of myself as a process-oriented person, who enjoys doing lab work, but might not have many original ideas. The last four years have taught me otherwise. My mind was desperately craving stimulation that would come from long-term strategic thinking – not just coloring inside the box for other people’s projects. Now, I finally got an opportunity to do so, hence the courage to post this.
As a matter of fact, the vast majority of my artwork over the past 4 years was based on this mental and emotional state. I have put together a “Stages of Grief” series which, while applicable in many contexts, to me was referring to grieving for being passionate about my work.
While making this piece, I have hit a wall of resistance several times. Even on weekends when my kids were away and I would have a whole day to myself, I had to force myself to get it back from the shelf and keep working. Did I not want to finish it?
One of the most likely explanations of this resistance is the imperfect symmetry that began to emerge as I was getting further away from the original brain contour. But none of our brains are perfect. In fact, it might be a good fit as, perhaps, the wilting core is no longer able to support its overall shape. That was the whole point of the piece. Or does it need to look put together from the outside and keep the pain bottled up behind an impeccably symmetrical façade? How do YOU deal with emotional pain? How much of it do you allow to come to the surface?
Part of a series?
My previous work “Muted Potential” is based on a similar concept. Stem cells are capable of so much if you just put them in the right environment. They can lead to revival, as long as you give them the right conditions to thrive. Both nature and nurture matter. So what was the point of nurturing a mind through an extensive period of training, to only feel unfulfilled in the end? Can you relate? Can we do better?
Initially, I was considering making “Wilting Mind” interactive like “Muted Potential” (read all about it here), but soon realized that it would have been too complicated and prone to damage. It would have been nice though to have an opportunity to either straighten out the flower or replace it with a new one when you finally achieve your dreams. Now that I have finally found a new job that I am excited about, it would be great if I could do that. Something to think about for my next project.
Finally, I would like to leave you with the following quote, which couldn’t have come to my attention at a better time.
“A red flower placed in a window may expand its influence over all the area of your sight.”– Robert Henri
Of course you could find an alternative interpretation for this work. As I was making it, it occurred to me that it could be applied in the context of dementia and neurodegenerative disease. That works too, but my original intention was more psychological.
What do you think? Is this too raw or can you relate?
Please scroll down and leave your thoughts below.
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This is brilliant! It also deeply connects with everything I’m experiencing in my life right now. Wow! Thank you for the insights and the hope. I’m curious about your new job??? and I’m very happy for you.
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Thank you so much Darcy! I really appreciate it! I can tell you about the job via email.