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 vibrata chromodoris
Blog

07.02.2022

Special Statement

In the name of authenticity, it's time I came out.

It will come as a surprise to nobody who knows me that I have a long and storied history that includes explorations with entheogenic and hallucinogenic substances. The use of mind-altering drugs by artists is nothing new, in fact there's evidence of it going back thousands of years. Recently, however, with the 20th century politicization and criminalization of drug use pushing it into the shadows, it almost seems as if it's an inside joke. I've always been open about my consciousness explorations with anyone who asks, but have never been open about it online. I suppose if you were to examine my portfolio and resumé and knew what to look for you'd see that I haven't really hidden it, but I've kept the details to myself.

For the curious, here are some of those details.

The process of becoming an adult was not easy for me. Without going into the gory details, my upbringing plus a series of misfortunes left me an angry, confused, lost young person. My favorite methods of medicating my discontent were with alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, with a little pot mixed in. Needless to say, it was not a healthy approach. But it was easy, and in a certain sense, fun. My art at the time was an extension of the same approach. It was raw, reckless, messy, provocative, and a bit scary. I was heavily influenced by Neo-expressionism - Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Francesco Clemente, Francis Bacon. I was obsessed with dualities: ego/id, masculine/feminine, light/dark, etc.

My fine art University training included large doses of psychology and philosophy. I quickly became enamored with the existentialists, and my mind was wide open and hungry for new ways of seeing the world. I was looking for a deeper sense of truth and understanding of myself and reality as a whole. Oddly enough, I had never paid any attention to the history of the Psychedelic Movement and had no real knowledge of its connection to truth-seeking and consciousness studies. I had read Timothy Leary's the Politics of Ecstasy when I was 14 or 15 years old, well before I understood it, and it frightened me more than it compelled me.

My coming of age as a member of the counterculture / punk art scene during the 90's included the opportunity to participate in what turned into an exuberant psychedelic renaissance. To me, at the time, it was all part of the same mish-mash of escapism and raging against the machine. While alcohol had its drawbacks, LSD was cheap and quite suddenly really plentiful. The sensorial shift and the escapist qualities were unparalleled, which suited me just fine, but the experience was also a deep one, which kept me going back for more.

Without my being fully aware of it, my art started to transform. Images that were violent and nihilistic began taking on a vulnerable edge, then more and more refined in detail. I became obsessed with showing what was hidden inside of things, like cellular structures and energy fields. Images that were, at one time, narrative and representational, became more and more abstract. The lines between those dualities I painted over and over again began to blur.

One monumental acid trip shifted my mindset for good. It was a very large dose, perhaps 600 mcg, administered by a much more experienced psychonaught who acted as my guide. The experience of egolessness freed me completely from the dualistic perspective, and the aftereffects were long-lasting. It was so disruptive that it was quite awhile before I was ready to create art again, and my work was never the same. I entered complete abstraction. My viewpoint branched out from those early peeks of cellular-microscapes into realms of the sub-atomic, where there are no objects and no familiar spacial dimensions. The tapestries and patterns that are classic features of LSD hallucinations became a new source of inspiration.

The name "Vibrata" came about during that same time period, from an internal journey during an LSD trip where I posed the question, "what is my true name?". The name Vibrata was delivered to me along with a vision of waves of energy, undulating and expanding infinitely in every direction as a continuum. The energy waves appeared in my paintings shortly afterwards, and never left.

Aside from the fact of their illicit status, one of the reasons I've avoided being more open about my relationship with LSD and other drugs is the stigma of cultishness that hangs over some artists and their work when they're flagrant about their drug use. I want my work to continue to be relatable to people who don't take drugs and aren't interested in them, as well as those who do. I've accepted being called a "visionary artist", because I'm an artist for whom psychedelics have been a powerful ally. They're not my raison d'ĂȘtre: My explorations of truth and consciousness predate my relationship with hallucinogens and continue to this day. I do not regret my relationship to them: On the contrary I see these substances as an important medium for art, philosophical exploration, and self-revelation. I want my body of work to stand as an example of how they can be transformative, healing, and ecstatic.