The Desert

I came to the desert imagery through an episode of profound loss. Getting past the idea of the desert as a ‘picturesque’ place and it’s really just a hard environment to exist in. In that sense, it is a place of difficulty. The Sufi mystic, Rumi talks about grief “violently sweeping your house empty of furniture”, and the desert is a place scrubbed clean of conventional comforts. The Eastern Orthodox tradition, with its long tradition of desert fathers and mothers, gave me a way of making sense out of it; a way to walk through it without being overwhelmed by it. My only other natural resource to aid me was my ability to make images. I was also aware of being able to link this up with my suburban roots via the long-held critique of Suburbia as a cultural desert. Some useful comments about this come from Architect and cultural critic, Robin Boyd. He reflects on the spiritual ugliness of suburbia being rooted in a “fear of reality, a denial of the need for the everyday environment to reflect the heart of the human problem”. It operates though a “satisfaction with veneer and cosmetic effects. It ends in betrayal of the element of love…”  I think that this interpenetrates with the Eastern Orthodox tradition of the desert as not only a literal environment to which early hermits went to seek after God, but also as an existential place of abandonment, a harsh environment or aridity and want; a bookend for Boyd’s “betrayal of love”. A picture like Desert Rain then is a good evocation of aridity as an interior condition (the desert is inside of the house/dwelling and so un-available to the rain). As I was working on this one I remembered that the big, front room window in a ranch-style house was also called the ‘picture window’, which seemed very apropos. 

Candelabra.JPG
Tree House.JPG

Mythinburbia #8 (sugar daddy)

65" x 105"

Candelabra

80" x 39"

Candelabra detail.JPG
Mythinburbia # 13; Desert Rain

Tree House

78" x 103"

detail