In 2013 I began a five year journey into deep-form meditation via carving in order to fix some major psychological issues that I had as a result of severe domestic abuse ten years prior. C-PTSD, for short. Living inside an anxiety nightmare and incapable of experiencing intimacy, for (over a decade) long. I was hurting myself, a lot, revictimizing and out of touch with the parts of me that trust and love.
The few years prior, I had discovered through a few different art projects that I could trick myself and change through the process, quite specifically because of how my psyche had splintered and attached parts of itself to the creation of work. With the katabasis missions, I chose themes focused on areas of my psyche that I needed to rewire in order to become a healthier person. During the process of carving, from the first large steps of major material removal while letting the idea of the theme start to settle on my thought patterns and I start to note the major emotions and firings, to the detail work where I'm mapping down into my subconscious and memorizing the reaction trails in coordination with the surfacing of each sculpture, I am saturated with each theme. Each one of these took around one hundred hours and for some that hundred hours happened over the course of years. I worked on them only when I was compelled and able to do the emotional work as well. 
The themes:
The Study of Emotional Defenses  (Please Let Me Drop This)
The Centering of the Self   (Doves: Parity Inversion) 
The Release of Anger (Overcurrents/actualized/cover)
The Disarmament of Sexual Weaponry (She Sleeps)
The Formation of a Full Self Out of Chaos (Ascension II)
The Revolving Door of What Energy is Welcome to Give or Receive (The Gate)
The Exposure and Acceptance of Vulnerability (The Dragonfly on my Shoulder)
It worked. In 2018 I achieved emotional integration with the completion of the The Dragonfly. It was actually quite startling and a big "What do I do now?" In 2019, I received a grant to write a book and also to develop and provide meditative stone carving workshops for domestic violence survivors. I started the book in early 2020, but the crushingly difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on my ability to delve into the hard stories for awhile. The survivor stone carving workshops are happening and I find them a valuable, fulfilling experience. 
Here are the katabasis sculptures:
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Please Let Me Drop This aka The Knife​​​​​​​
The study of emotional defenses. The first real window I got into what it was that I needed to fix and the first real exercise in how. Extending the meditation, I cast the carving in bronze.

The Knife. 2013. chlorite, steel. 16"x9"x7"

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Doves: Parity Inversion​​​​​​​ 
Doves was specifically a preparation for the intense journey of the rest. An embrace of the self, a centering. 

Doves: Parity Inversion. 2015. chlorite, maple. 9"x10"x6"
Private Collection

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Overcurrents(actualized)(cover)​​​​​​​
The third katabasis, and one that I worked over the course of about three years in multiple configurations, Overcurrents started as undercurrents, a study into the release of anger. 
I'd say that it was during the carving of this sculpture that I really honed the meditation technique that defines the Katabasis sculptures--the mapping of my thoughts, bringing subconscious reactions and distractions to the surface so that I can find out what's underneath them and create conscious pathways directly into that. Carving (memorizing) those maps as the skin of the stone. 
In this one, under the reactions of anger and the layers and layers of guardians was my vulnerability. Under that this infinite well of compassion and love. I don't tap into it often, but I know how now. 

Overcurrents(actualized)(cover). 2018. chlorite, marble, steel, silk thread. 24"x48"x8"

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She Sleeps
The disarmament of sexual weaponry. 
She Sleeps is a dual portrait of me and a wiccan high priestess who tried to destroy me, or at least drive me away from her man (unnecessarily I might add), with an armament of manipulation based in 'womanly wiles.' While I don't necessarily believe in witchcraft, I do believe in intentions and the power of perceptions and placebo, and she succeeded in driving me to a rather desperate place and into a heavy C-PTSD recession. It was so ugly. So in the making of this portrait, the processing of her, I went in and found anything inside of me that resembled her and disarmed it. 
I sang this sculpture a lot of Amanda Palmer and Florence and the Machine.
Right when I was putting the last silver coil on, after spending 80-ish hours meditating on this subject while carving and sanding and welding, alone in my studio on a pause in the music, a gust of wind slammed the studio door shut. I know it's coincidence but in the back of my head was this little laugh that the counterspell had just worked.

She Sleeps. 2017. chlorite, silver, steel. 9"x6"x7"
Private Collection

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Ascension II​​​​​​​
The formation of the self out of chaos; the rise to steady ground, an acknowledgement of leveling up of a sorts. 

Ascension II. 2017. chlorite main with basalt base. 17"x9"x8"
Private Collection

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The Gate​​​​​​​ 
The Gate is a study in the revolving door of what is welcome-both what kind of energy I want to come in and what I want to give. It was kinda like I pulled my subconscious red flag sensor up onto the surface for a little while and fine tuned it before letting the process fade into the background again. Very much the process of building better trust in my instincts. 
As an added challenge to this piece, I carved them in this position, shoulder to shoulder until I had to pull them apart for detailing. The experimental musculature was fun, too.

The Gate. 2018. chlorite upper and basalt base. 15"x9"x8"

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The Dragonfly on my Shoulder​​​​​​​
That first breath of air; the morph; the shedding of the final exoskeleton
This is the last sculpture in the Katabasis Mission Series, the one during which I was raw, reborn, rebuilding my skin in a new environment. The insect is specifically a dragonfly nymph, and when I was in the final polishing stages in my studio, I looked over and a large blue dragonfly had landed on my shoulder. She surveyed the work, my hands still running sandpaper across the surface, surveyed me, and decided that it was appropriate and good. After that she flew slowly around the studio, lighting on this sculpture and that tool while I worked.

The Dragonfly on my Shoulder. 2018. brucite. 20"x12"x14"

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