Picturing the mind's eye: Meet the artist who paints blindfolded to depict the visions she experiences during meditation sessions
An artist paints while blindfolded in order to depict the visions she experiences during meditation in a fascinating new exhibition.
New York-based Lia Chavez told MailOnline that by blocking out light and sound and 'delv[ing] deeply into the expansive silence of interior space,' she is able to experience intense visions that form the basis of her paintings, which she creates while sitting on a large sheet of paper for hours at a time.
'As the duration of the meditation intensifies, so do my visions,' she says, explaining: 'Each individual vision forms the dictate of the mark I will make on the paper.' Her paintings are currently on show in an exhibition called Carceri, at Two Rams gallery in New York City's Lower East Side. Ms Chavez, who studied at the University of Oxford and Goldsmiths College in London, says she has always had a fascination with the dark.'Since I was a young child, I have cherished the time I spend in the dark,' she said. 'Meditation has provided a way of continuing this exploration.'
She begins her unique artistic process by setting up her mark-making implements - which include acrylic paint, charcoal, oil pastel, ink and graphite - next to a large sheet of delicate Japanese paper. Then she puts in earplugs, blindfolds herself, picks up a utensil at random and focuses intensely until her mind enters a meditative state, which can last anywhere from six to ten hours, without breaks.'In any given durational meditation I am likely to experience concussive visions of dynamic inner storm systems, cataclysms of radiance, vortices, gyrating fibers of electricity, clouds of short-lived photons, cascading firebolts, and embryonic stars - to name a few,' she explains.These visions are then translated onto the page in the form of mixed media drawings that reveal what the mind beholds when devoid of sensory experience.
'Painting from this standpoint feels far more potent and sensate,' she says. 'The light I experience in a state of sensory deprivation is far greater than anything I have seen with my natural eyes.' The delicate Japanese paper upon which she creates her pieces is 'almost skin-like' and serves as part of the performance art. 'I spend many hours with my body spread over the surface of the paper as I am painting,' she explains. 'At times the process will even lead me to wrap my body in the paper, like a second skin.'
Ms Chavez compares the patterns of her visions to the weather, referring to her vision sequences as 'storms' that develop and diminish over time. 'This thinking relates to a theory of creativity that I am currently developing which postulates that the flows of consciousness are structured similarly to flows of weather,' she explains. 'I have learned that devotional concentration, such as meditation, organizes the flow of consciousness in a way similar to how turbulence structures the flow of water into vortices.'
Through her artwork, Ms Chavez hopes to communicate the intense and almost mystical power of the mind's eye. 'There is an effulgence that can be observed only when the eyes are closed and the mind is intently focused,' she says. 'In this piece, I seek to collect and share it.'