Visions of What Never Was and Always Will Be
Marching To The Moon o/c 64" x 84"
A ragtag parade of weird and wonderful characters is making its way through the dark forest. The moon, which lights the way, is their destination. Intent on their journey, only one character silently acknowledges with a turn of her head that she is aware of you. The music they make with their odd assortment of instruments might only be heard and appreciated by a few; and in fact, most people would never see or hear this procession if it passed right before their eyes. Who are they? Do you hear their night music?
Shelley Newman Stevens
OtherWorld: Visions of What Never Was and Always Will Be
What if? And why not?
As a child the possibilities were endless, and these two questions were among the many that swam in my head as I attempted to understand the world around me…a world which was simultaneously wondrous and fearsome, made even more so with a vivid imagination, a fascination with fairytales and a propensity to daydream. This combination resulted in an occasional mysterious transportation into an inexplicable dreamlike existence which followed me into adulthood. As a little girl, I experienced fleeting glimpses of a different place in which space exists, but time does not; a fragile and diaphanous world in which one’s existence consists of mere senses (particularly sight and sound) with no need of a physical presence, although the physical qualities of others may be encountered and indeed be very vivid. And in this existence, an ephemeral blend of imagery and music convey the most complex and sublime emotion. Occasionally, it is fearsome, but mostly it is profoundly wondrous. I have seen it and felt it throughout my life during deep dream states as well as in brief reveries, and although it is always strangely familiar, I have never recognized it in reality. It is not a place that I can access at will. I don’t know how to get there from here.
Although it sometimes feels like I am all alone in this strange transportation, I know I am not. I believe many of us temporarily and subconsciously retreat at times to a hazy mindscape that offers solace and peace and occasionally, profound insight. I also believe that we have a hand in its creation, which means that there are many, many unique versions of OtherWorld.
My OtherWorld is a nocturnal place. Twilight has given way to moonlight and mist; shadows play across the landscape I am about to enter. I am never afraid. I watch and I wait and I listen as it all unfolds. There are often strange and wonderful figures beckoning me, and I have an overwhelming desire to be a part of it all. Hauntingly beautiful music accompanies the imagery, which evokes ancient worlds, nature, and the sublime. There is a bittersweet truth to it all, a kind of déjà vu that offers me solace in a world I finally belong to…one that provides me insight and truth, but one which also leaves me feeling profoundly alone. There are aspects of my OtherWorld that are whimsical and totally nonsensical, but even these images offer a timeless quality to my experience; although fragmented and temporary, there is an absolute sense of the eternal. The vision is always gone too soon, however, and I am left with the dust of my OtherWorld.
These paintings evoke some of the dream-like qualities and mesmerizing imagery that exist in my particular OtherWorld. Although there is no sound, there is a loose association, a kind of synesthesia between the color, the brushstrokes and mark-making, and the music I imagine. And like my mindscape, there is no definite sense of space or time. Images emerge and vanish, and the real and the imagined can co-exist. These images could be associated with the randomness of ordinary dreams, except for the fact that this is a strangely familiar place to which I’ve returned again and again over many years. There is no action, there are no words, nothing happens. It is more a state of being, and a sense of knowing. There are probably as many OtherWorlds as there are people who have a need to subconsciously create them. By their very nature they are always there, and never there.