Fear, Faith and Providence
My journey from fear to faith began with an extreme event.
During my early twenties, I spent a night crewing in a gale force ten in the West Indies, on a home built Polynesian-style catamaran. I had joined two friends for a three-month trip. Unsurprisingly, this being my first sailing experience, it greatly challenged my sense of security and my sense of identity.
The instability felt surreal and yet familiar, an extreme version of how daunted I had vaguely felt throughout my childhood and adolescence. It seemed to me that my sailing experience was dramatically highlighting my unconscious mind. With this insight my world was forever changed - I became aware that life was providing me with a mirror to awaken and evolve by.
My experience provided the momentum to clear my insecure personal climate, whilst discovering gems and insights helping me to navigate my life, along with deeper roots for the balance and harmony required to flourish and expand for ‘an ever-advancing civilisation’.
Life’s challenges can often feel like ‘contractions’ pushing us onward, bringing with it new perceptions and new life accompanied by a healthier vision. Given the choice, I would not choose the high seas again to discover faith, but I would choose the inner adventure and its subsequent outer manifestations.
Some years later, during a Fine Art degree, I decided to re-experience the ocean's turmoil more consciously whilst in the secure environment of my studio. I investigated Carl Jung’s theory that life is a mirror of our mind - insecurity being the root of the shadow of the human condition; an awareness of a mind insecure and separate from its whole self would enable a search for a reunion and a more confident self. I hoped that this might promote a healthier, more stable condition not just for me to grow into, but humanity also. This was the basis of many 20th century artists’ work in response to the catastrophic horrors of two world wars. At the time of painting I gave this piece the title ‘What the Water Gave Me’:
‘Fathomless Ocean', acrylic on canvas
As a dance teacher and a musician, I find my artwork strongly influenced by the dynamics of movement and rhythm as I capture the wildness, the moods and the beauty of nature paralleled by our own human emotional nature. I often paint in local soil and silt to engage more directly with the subject of evolution and to reflect Earth's inspiring landscapes. This highlights my delight in, as well as our dependence upon, this planet.
‘Primordial Powers’, acrylic and soil on canvas
This all culminated in an exhibition of paintings entitled ‘Written in Stone’. It searched for solutions as to how, after humanity’s long history of war and conflict we, individually and collectively, might effectively and efficiently direct our evolution in a more positive direction. I also looked for beliefs that could be a meeting place for the often-opposing outlooks of ‘science and religion’. This exhibition has three distinct sections and posed the question: is our future written in stone?
Past: ‘Once Upon A Time’. Here I investigate Planet Earth's and humanity’s evolutionary patterns of transformation and momentum.
Present: ‘Conscious Creation’. Where I explore 20th century art and science including the relatively new science of psychology. Had psychologists and 20th century artists highlighted and liberated mankind's old ways of dealing with confused or denied emotions whilst intuiting new ways of self-expression, shifting mind-sets through abstract art and demonstrating the value of the arts for a healthier society?
‘Fear and Guilt’, acrylic on paper
“Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation.” Salvador Dalí
Future: ‘Expectations’. Here I capture the energy of fossil fuel and conflict juxtaposed to more harmonious, sustainable, eternal energies to focus and engage with. A positive feeling is the primary stage necessary for positive solutions. I look at the transition of our human identity and highlight our new venture into outer space along with the insecurities new birth and expansion can activate. I highlight a need for spiritual roots to tackle this adventure wisely.
‘Systems and Limits’, acrylic on canvas
“We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.” “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.” Buckminster Fuller, systems theorist and inventor.
My journey from fear to faith had begun with an extreme event.
Thinking I'd bought a ticket for a sunny, West Indian heaven but finding force ten gales, an interesting thought dawned on me: this environment was not creating my insecure mind - it was reflecting it. It then became clear to me that if my desire was for a sunny, more stable future, I might like to move beyond some of my insecure personal beliefs about life and to seek a more realistic, inclusive vision to base my future on.
This inner awareness led me to a more manageable, enjoyable adventure, exploring life through the arts, therapies and new belief systems - a bridge between my inner and outer world, turning a shadow of insecurity into a ‘shadow of providence'.
"Every created thing in the whole universe is but a door leading unto His knowledge." Bahá’i Writings
I discovered that Bahá’i concepts, amongst others, coincided with and made sense of my experiences. They eased the stressful feelings associated with the inner and outer expansion into the ‘unknown’ and provided me with a new healthier vision to project onto the canvas of life.
“My paintings don’t always make sense to me at the time of painting them, but they resonate in my soul reminding me where my spirit lives as well as obsolete energies ready for the miracle of alchemy and the new. They reassure me that within the bigger picture of life ALL is evolving, being revealed and resolved.” A.Wood, Written in Stone statement.
'Fear, Faith and Providence', written by Angela Wood, artist