Earl Schofield’s stunning exhibit, “Himalaya”, is showing in the Putnam Gallery until May 9. Here are some words he has to share about his work:
Our culture wields the image as weapon, spinning a web of illusions designed to manipulate and isolate us, hiding the “truth” of our interconnectivity with all the universe like the Hindu goddess Maya. The attempt to look beyond illusions is a fundamental goal for those of us Ghandi once termed, “seekers”. I choose to follow the older path of artist as shaman, whose goal was to express those truths which cannot be seen. In the landscape, I seek to portray in color, and mark, composition and a hundred other aesthetic choices, that part of the soul that cannot be expressed in words.
Artists spend their lives studying the visual world and in their study to understand and mimic what they see, mistakes, anomalies, misinterpretations and deliberate misconstructions occur as ocular data is processed, analyzed, filtered and reconstructed in paint. Light becomes expressed as a physical thing in painting. Over time artists attempt to minimize these differences between the observed and the represented. But it is after mastery, when they begin to then deliberately alter that which they see to suit themselves or their ideas, that art happens. That is when the artist is able to manipulate what is seen to express ideas and feelings that can’t or are difficult to see without his interpretation. When people say artists help us see the world in a new way, they don’t mean the eyes of an artist are different, they mean the artist is paying attention to something everyone can see, but were not.
Most people look at landscapes and see a place. I see patterns and relationships that I either like or don’t like. I see relationships I am either attracted to or are not. These preferences, these decisions about what to show and what to leave out and about how to show the relationships I keep, begin to reveal things about who I am. They tell as much about me, as they do about my subject. I know a work is done; when I “recognize the painting,” when I see myself or a part of myself or what I am feeling or what my soul desires at that moment. It is in this way that the landscape is always really a self-portrait of the soul. It is only through art that we are able to catch a glimpse across the existential divide, into the existence or reality of someone else.
It is why James Cameron chose so wisely when he had the Na Vi , the indigenous people of his movie “Avatar”, express love, acceptance and respect for each other with the phrase, “ I see you.”