Statement from Artist: Mona Diane Conner
STATEMENT FROM THE ARTIST
Mona Diane Conner
“Longing to be Seen”
April 6, 2008
Since it's creation in 1991, "Longing to Be Seen" has travelled to five museum and gallery venues around the country, and was included in the 150th anniversary of the Swedenborgian Church of the Holy City in Wilmington, Delaware's art show in October 2007, "Swedenborgian Artists Past & Present" curated by Irma Reinhold (who was also a participant). Wilma has asked me to provide a statement about this painting, to accompany her wonderful sermon and service. It is a great joy to me that Wilma is using this painting in her worship service, and that she has invited me to discuss it in this context.
It was around 1987, when I became confirmed in the Swedenborgian faith, that out of my inspiration from reading about the spiritual world, I began to want to express spiritual ideas in paint. Overall, I kept thinking, how do I want to convey in paintings the beauty of the relationship between the physical and spiritual realms as Swedenborgian theology understands it? About five years later I came across the quote which inspired "Longing to Be Seen", the title of which is taken from the last words of this quotation from Divine Love & Wisdom. Immediately I saw the painting, which took over a year to complete, clearly in my mind's eye. The greatest joy to me about what I have learned from the Swedenborgian interpretation of Christianity is the grasp on the IMMEDIACY and the SHOCKING ABUNDANCE AND BEAUTY of the spiritual world. Although not always literally visible from the physical, (perhaps only by those who have second sight, or third-eye visions), it's love and joy are with us every minute of our natural lives whether we are aware of it or not. Reading "...even touching the pupil with its beautiful wings and longing to be seen" is when I understood in a more direct way that God is near, omnipresent, and within all; that we are not 'waiting to go somewhere which we cannot also be now'. Yes, in one sense, we know it will be more glorious after we die, it will seem different. But do we really comprehend that ALL OF IT is also here with us now---not 'elsewhere'? The Lord, the angels, and all that will be there for us after life, also now 'turns on a dime' of our awareness of knowing Divine presence in this moment. It may come and go in our perception, but in the sense that a feather touches the pupil of the eye, there is nothing in between but our perception. We are a part of heaven while on earth to the extent we choose to see our lives in this way. To me this is the key joy value with which Swedenborg illuminates Christianity, by revealing the true intimacy of the spiritual world's presence in our lives in so many ways, and on so many levels....in this instance via the example of a Bird of Paradise.
One way this perception resonated inwardly for me in 2005 was when my sister Peggy prepared a special DVD slide show with music of our family life for my Mom's 80th birthday celebration, starting back when my parents were babies, spanning 1923 - 2005. I recall standing over the computer earlier that weekend with my sister, looking over my Dad's shoulder seated in his wheel chair as the three of us watched a sneak preview. Tears flooded my eyes as I had the real experience of a 'life review' watching this wonderful show with the back of my Dad's head craning close to the screen, and swaying back and forth in and out of my vision in his wheelchair (from late-stage Parkinson's medication side-effects). I said, "This is overwhelming, like our whole lives are passing before us!" Dad stated firmly, "Bring out the crying towel! This IS my whole life!!" We literally experienced through the memory recall provided from the pictures, and thousands more not shown which travelled exponentially through our minds, a new perception that suddenly brought the glorious bird of paradise into full view. Although our family was not perfect, all disappointments, regrets, and difficulties vanished next to a greater, grander joy of WOW, did we do all of this? HOW TRULY MAGNIFICENT & WONDERFUL IT HAS ALL IRRESPECTIVELY BEEN! WE ARE AMAZING! This was one of my greatest moments of perception about my family, like Wilma describes in her sermon. All that is contained in one human life is also like a Bird of Paradise's sudden appearance. When you can see the whole picture of it, you can see Heaven.
I had another such moment when I read through this service for the first time and saw that "On Eagle's Wings" was included, because "On Eagle's Wings" was sung for my father's memorial last April. It is almost exactly a year since he has passed, and he was the only other Swedenborgian in my family. How Wilma's beautiful service came to be arranged in this way at this time is no mystery, but a loving confirmation of the Divine feathers gently touching me and my family members now, including my father. From my perspective, my Dad's spirit is loving this blessing also. Thank you Wilma!
My examples cover only one angle, and there is so much more to say on this topic of those moments when "everything is illuminated", as Wilma's sermon reveals. The concept itself is deeper than we can adequately convey. Sometimes a painting and words together simply convey more than just words or pictures alone. Whatever the painting means to you, however wild or irrational it seems, I would love it if you are willing to share your thoughts about it in the discussion forum under a new thread titled, "When Everything is Illuminated".
Mona’s painting will soon be available as giclee prints through her web site, www.monadianeconner.com. As of 4/6/2008, the site is not yet up, but Mona can be reached through her email: email@example.com.
Join Mona for discussion forum on the painting.
Join Mona for discussion forum on the painting.