A journey through the territory of trauma
“I will guide you with my eye” Psalm 32:8
This project explores a personal journey through the middle space of traumatic experience; and my gratitude for the healing power of the Spirit who is found in the nooks and crannies, in dark places, in the gaps. The artistic process involved pondering scripture, theological reflection, immersion in the literature on trauma, and contemplative doodling.
The series was inspired through my ongoing meditative practice of doodling the psalms and centers on a phrase from Psalm 32:8: “I will guide you with my eye”.
My initial drawing was my vision of the Eye of God—conceived as a glowing “eye”.
The process might have ended there, if it were not for the discovery that this bore an uncanny resemblance to images of the Helix Nebula NGC 7293 (see above) above, commonly described as “the eye of God” nebula.
This “coincidence” inspired me onto two parallel journeys. The first, artistic journey entailed a series of works attempting to capture the “Eye” as an image on paper. Alongside this visual exploration of the Eye I followed a second, more personal trail. If the Eye of God is/was leading me, where is that journey taking me?
As I pondered that question, a series of images and answers began to develop:
to the ends of the earth, where there be dragons;
through the valley of the shadow of death; into the abyss
the somewhat nightmarish poem “The Hound of Heaven
These answers surprised me both with their darkness and with their ambiguity. As I began to develop images around these motifs, I struggled both to express this mood in the images, and to understand why these were the directions I was going.
Where was God leading me—or did this dark edge have anything to do with God?
When a theologian friend introduced me to current work at the intersection of trauma and theology, I recognised that the malaise affecting me, and being expressed in these concepts, was an expression of childhood trauma.
The final project as presented here took shape after this realization, as a working out of impact of childhood trauma and as a wrestling with the “absence” of God common in these circumstances.
The work consists of a series of images reflecting on the experience of living with the long-term affects of trauma.
“The survivor occupies a space like Holy Saturday, between death and life, between an ending and a beginning”.Shelly Rambo, Spirit and Trauma: A theology of remaining
The technique used throughout the project is an intensification of an earlier doodling style of meditations (see “Tears of God”. The design is sketched out, then “doodled” with fine tip markers. This is then overlaid with solid colors with Sharpie pens. In turn, the drawing is “rubbed” with pencil crayon which highlights the ridging of the paper resulting from the two kinds of marker. Other media used include wax crayon, printer’s ink, and metallic Sharpie.