In 1674, the term ‘moonstruck’ was first introduced into the English language in reference to insanity caused by the moon. The term “lunatic” is derived from Luna, a Roman moon goddess. Medieval priests would study the moon through a mirror to avoid staring at it directly. People would avoid sleeping near windows in fear of being affected or “influenced” by moonbeams. By the Victorian era the word came to be used in the context of love and becoming dazed and distracted by romantic sentiment. By the mid 1800s, Charles Dickens and other authors had used it in novels. The notion that the moon cycles affect human behavior goes back to ancient times. Creation myths, legends and folktales attempt to explain and express, sometimes abstractly, our connections to celestial bodies and the natural world. The connection between love and lunacy is also found across literature and art throughout history. In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Theseus states “the lunatic, the lover, the poet are of imagination all compact” in reference to the moonstruck lovers of the play. In the recent, contemporary film Her, a character refers to falling in love as a “form of socially acceptable insanity”. Passion can at times be equated to confusion and lust can both liberate us and alter our perception. And yet something greater drives us to strive for it.
This body of work is part of an ongoing personal reflection on the dualities that exist in human relationships as well as in nature’s greater rhythms and cycles. After looking at the evolution of my artwork over the course of the years, I noticed that I was consistently including imagery of the moon, and very often bodies of water, on a subconscious level. After recognizing this pattern, I’ve decided to consciously embrace it and look deeper into its meaning on an archetypal level. Carl Jung believed the moon to represent the feminine psyche and water to be one of the most common symbols for the unconscious mind. Light and dark, desire and demise, ebb and flow, pleasure and pain, the relationships we find ourselves in can be full of passionate affinity and on the same coin, destructive obsession. Just as the moon’s gravitational force creates tides when it pulls on the bodies of water, perhaps it also pulls on our minds and cellular bodies, as we are composed almost solely of water.
Through the process of painting, drawing, transferring, layering and collaging, the act of creation becomes a therapeutic one. An artist’s eye attempts to create a visual harmony in each individual piece. At the same time there seems to be a deeper harmony or gratification that comes about as the unconscious is free to create and explore. The series of work becomes a visual diary of sorts, saturated with layers of imagery and symbolic associations that become mnemonic devices that pay tribute to memories and the transient beauty that is constantly slipping through our fingers. Although these pieces are full of symbolism that are deeply personal, they are intended to be open ended enough for others to create their own associations and narratives relative to their own experiences.
- For Carl Jung Center and Gallery, Buffalo NY 2015
- Date February 2015
- URL www.dailypublic.com/events/02022015/moonstruck-opening-reception