Treasure Buried Became Seeds Sown -or- I Will Not Bury Myself in Your Boxes

Acrylics, ink, auto paint, vintage Swarovski crystals, saguaro seeds, dichroic and interference powders, pearl powder, mica on a discarded canvas.


I painted this piece while in a self-hypnosis-induced trance as an experiment of letting my inner creative self take over. What would a painting become if I just let go, if I just let myself express the raw emotions and creativity I was feeling during a particularly intense part of my life. I had been commissioned to destroy a canvas that had previously been a family portrait. The patron had commissioned the original portrait much earlier and it contained painful memories, but after the canvas had nearly rotted after being in a shed for several years, she did not want to destroy the painting, but have me transform it. The idea that this painting held such painful memories spoke to me, as I had transformed a similar piece shortly before. So, I tapped into the way I was feeling while going through a similarly painful process and just poured myself into the painting, having laid out myriad supplies beforehand.

At the time I painted this I was wrestling with all the various demands people were making not just on me, but on my identity and calling. I was at the final stages of becoming an Episcopal priest and becoming more and more disillusioned with the process, the people involved, and with organized religion in general. At that point I had spent most of my adult life in ministry of some sort or another, and it seemed that everyone had an opinion about my calling, my life, my identity, and how those things ought to be expressed or quantified.

At the same time I felt my life was infinitely full of possibility and hope. I could feel that my questioning and curious heart was preparing me for change. For the first time in my entire life I was starting to ask what I wanted to do rather than what I was supposed to do. That was incredibly liberating. I recognized that the old narratives no longer worked for me. My former labels, identities, and pedigrees no longer served me. I needed to step into the void of creation to explore myself without maps, uprooting all the stakes that had been planted on my life, my body, my identity, my vocation, and my story.

I also used dichroic inks and interference powders to make the painting change, sometimes substantially, in different light. This symbolizes the mutability of identity, choice, and appearance. All my life I had tried to be a certain thing, and now I was, for the first time, becoming aware of the gifts hidden in otherness, and of the beauty in actively giving myself over to mystery and uncertainty.

This painting would go on to influence a series of poems related to identity: the Intersex Triptych. You can find those poems under the poetry section of this site.