My art is about boundaries and how they give form and structure to our personal worlds that we agree to live in. These worlds are as unique as each of us. They are made up of our experiences, our failures, our successes, and our social and family history. These worlds form the bases for our dreams or nightmares and how we see ourselves.
Step 1: Imposed Boundaries
For most of us, our worlds are not of our own making but are the accumulation of experiences from our families, schools, churches and society because these forces domesticate us into the “real” world. This process can hypnotize us to believe in what otherwise we would not believe or make important in our lives. As we grow up, a difference between our domesticated world and our own world that we are building causes conflicts with the ones who domesticated us. This is seen as teenagers push parents away – rebelling against social institutions and norms – or even, as a small child, rage. All these responses are healthy and helpful in building our own worlds, but when conflict is met with compliance a new dynamic is set up.
Step 2: Controlling Boundaries
There are many reasons why we pick the route of compliance: dominant parents, physical or emotional abuse, abandonment, or simply the lack of social models that fit our selves. But with this action, we begin to hide from ourselves, leaving us to find meaning and purpose in the worlds reflected back to us by others. Our world becomes not of our own making but one of resignation with boundaries that hide us from our own uniqueness, in silent pain and/or hell.
Step 3: Painful Boundaries
As we continue to hide from ourselves, we become more and more invested in this external/domesticated world that we start to defend as our own. When our true world/self starts to intrude, as it will because we are all unique, the boundaries of the domesticated world start to vibrate and create fear. Boundaries are very unstable because they are not real but are mirages that require an enormous amount of energy to maintain. When we grow tired of holding up these boundaries/mirages, our fear becomes visible as anger, control, hiding and denial.
Step 4: Addictive Boundaries
As time progresses, the amount of energy spent to maintain these mirages increases. We begin to look for tools to augment our power to live within these boundaries. Alcohol, drugs, sex, love, gambling can all become addictions in our battle to make the mirages acceptable to ourselves. As these addictions take hold, our true self is pushed farther back below the surface of our self-perception and is lost in the cycle of fear and pain.
If this cycle continues, our connection to our own uniqueness will become lost and we will die emotionally, and eventually physically. The one thing that can break the cycle is the one thing that we are fighting against: the destruction of our domesticated world.
Step 5: Dynamic Boundaries
By letting the boundaries fall, we are able to build a world that celebrates our own dynamic uniqueness. Often, domesticated boundaries fall only in a crisis, allowing us to tear apart the cycle of fear and bring down the world of compromises. At this point we have a choice: take on new external worlds and go back into hiding, or confront our pain, discover our uniqueness and build our own world. When you stop compromising yourself, you realize how toxic the beliefs of others really are when not questioned. The quickest route to yourself is to do the opposite of what we have been domesticated to do. Not easy, but worth the journey. It’s working for me.