Maura Holden’s artwork is filled with highly detailed images using layered transparent floating colors. The pictures show another world filled with destruction, creation, surreal creatures and hallucinatory vision. She is a part of a new emerging visionary culture inspired by visionary plants, shamanic renaissance and novel creativity. In this post I will let Maura Holden speak for herself as she explains her interests, reveals the ideas which permeate her art and expresses common themes in the visionary art movement with exquisite clarity.
“I was born in 1967 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I am self-taught… The visionary side of my work comes from the strange lands and mind-bending dimensions I have experienced, to a large extent through entheogens. Part of my goal in painting is to synthesize some of my longest standing interests – geometry, mythology, architecture and various optical obsessions – into unique visual matrices, or “keys”. Just what they will unlock is in the eye of the beholder.” Maura Holden (http://visionaryrevue.com/webtext4/holden.html)
“I’ve communicated some of the beauty and intensity of the inner hallucinatory worlds… I’ve always been fascinated by dreams, particularly the mythic/cosmic type. They inspire awe and a feeling of profound awareness or meaning beyond words.” Maura Holden (http://beinart.org/art-news/2007/05/28/beinart-interview-with-maura-holden/)
“The 20th Century has embalmed, debunked, stretched, snapped, spliced and nuked the spiritual question. Today, just past the threshold of the 21st, many intuitive and creative people have either invented their own religions, or extracted the seeds of truth from orthodox faiths’ dead, interdictory hulls – then poured on a dose of electric fertilizer. The result has been a mutinous beanstalk of wild, inspired, living sacred art.” (http://beinart.org/info/essays/maura-holden-tsunami.php).
“This marks a new age of spiritual expression, and we can now begin sanctifying curious stripes of numinous experience such as encounters with aliens, plant spirits, and even the many sincere but recherché resurrections of Jesus Christ. 20th Century art movements such as Surrealism, Symbolism, Visionary, Fantastic, Outsider and Entheo Art have done much to expand the scope of the sacred. By opening the doors to imaginative inner worlds and dreams, they have also admitted our inner gods. Considering the psychic and sacred liberation these movements offer, it is not difficult to see why they have endured for decades, and now blossom once again as they enter the 21st Century…. New hybrids of psychedelic digital imagery and painting send fiber-optic tendrils spiraling into the future…. while simultaneously twining around the sturdy primordial roots of indigenous shamanic Art….” Maura Holden (http://beinart.org/info/essays/maura-holden-tsunami.php)
“The longer one looks, the more it appears that contemporary shamanism is one in many renaissances of an extremely ancient universal complex of values, and is largely informed by the templates of its older brothers. The tradition of sacred plant art appears in every culture, and reaches back to Neolithic times, when our ancestors made rock art depicting the magic mushroom and its myco-active connoisseurs. Shamanic experience may even be the seed from which today’s major religions have sprung. Whatever the case, today we are witnessing a peak in shamanic awareness and innovation, and with it the perennial rebirth of the ancient nature wisdom that has enabled so many cultures to sustain ecological harmony. Our civilization, long at odds with its earthly matrix, is now awakening to the consequences of a poisoned planet, and the dire need of ideological reform.” Maura Holden (http://beinart.org/info/essays/maura-holden-tsunami.php)
“Shamans regularly surrender themselves to symbolic death – a vivid, dramatic and emotional experience. These warriors emerge from death more unified with life than ever before. They are reborn with a direct knowledge of their connectedness to other life forms, the earth, and the archetypes contained within human consciousness. One of these archetypes is the creator. Visionary artists who have had shamanic experiences are now poised to perform a healing role in culture. Simply by manifesting their diverse spiritual visions, they can demonstrate to humanity that the creator lives within us all. No authority need intercede between a human being and her experience of the divine. Indeed, we are all creators, and our sacred communal creation is this ever-changing world.” Maura Holden (http://beinart.org/info/essays/maura-holden-tsunami.php)
“Psychedelics are very important to me. I’ll go so far as to call them my sacraments. To me, they are absolutely sacred allies… Mind you, I don’t recommend psychedelics to others. People have different experiential capacities. Some people can be psychically injured, or swept into harmful delusions, or they may just never break through into the profound… That said, I’ll maintain that under their influence I have traveled through the most sublime and terrifying realms, and beyond all realms — into the Great Unity. The images for all of my major pictures have come to me under the influence of psychedelics. I’ve done lots of drawing — those preliminary sketches, as well as highly polished drawings — under their influence. Painting is another matter. My methods of painting are exponentially more complex than drawing. While tripping I need a fast, direct vehicle in which to chase the moving hallucinations.” Maura Holden (http://beinart.org/art-news/2007/05/28/beinart-interview-with-maura-holden/)
“The paintings are often representations of journeys, and I have various methods of unlocking gates, and of drawing aside worldly veils. Most of the practice is just concentration and meditation while painting, but I have used prolonged retreat in the forest, as well as plants which shamans use to take journeys. In conjunction with good planning, and a day of meditation and preparation beforehand, I have found the plants extremely helpful in translating multidimensional spiritual experiences into fixed visions.” Maura Holden (http://lila.info/interviews/maura_holden.html#!prettyPhoto%5Bg8%5D/1/)
“I am particularly fascinated by the aspect of knowledge called “being at one with the whole” in which, in a transcendent state of meditation, I am vividly aware of the interconnectedness of all creation – something most humans don’t consider while cooking an egg or tying a shoe. Reconciling the fact that “I am at one with the whole” with the more generally accepted fact, “I am an individual”, is a little bit like reconciling the square and the circle…One of the many things I love about imaginative art is that it reconciles another dichotomy: the rift between reality and dreams. In imaginative art the two worlds are harmoniously married in one form, and this is very exciting for those of us who love both worlds and experience them together. I am extremely encouraged by the new wave of talented artists who understand this.” Maura Holden (http://lila.info/interviews/maura_holden.html#!prettyPhoto%5Bg8%5D/1/)
Links to Maura Holden