The Anchorite & Black Works

Anchorhold, mixed media: cedar, plywood, mulberry paper, led light cycle 

The works presented are a reflection on the hermitic practice of the anchorite, who would sequester oneself in a small structure known as an anchorhold. The anchorhold had but one opening through which pilgrims would seek his counsel.  Through print, sculpture, and video, I explore the history of the anchorhold, as well as its parallels to my own experiences.

The first anchorite, St. Anthony the Great, made his way into the desert, and eventually to a cave. Sealed within the anchorhold, he was sustained by meager rations brought to him by nearby desert dwellers. Upon delivering his food one day, his benefactors found him within the tomb beaten and bloodied - by the devil, no less. They carried him to the nearby church where he made his recovery. When revived, St. Anthony made his way further back into the desert and once again adopted a hermitic lifestyle within an abandoned Roman fort. The devil returned to torment Anthony, afflicting him with visions of serpents, wolves, lions, and scorpions ready to attack. Anthony, however, feared them not and said, “If you had any authority over me, but one of you would have been sufficient.” With this the apparition dissipated like smoke.

Untitled (Crouch)  from the  Black Works series , mezzotint  2015

Untitled (Crouch) from the Black Works series, mezzotint  2015

Untitled (Twist))   from the   Black Works series  , mezzotint  2015

Untitled (Twist)) from the Black Works series, mezzotint  2015

My experiences with knowings outside of traditional perception were not only ecstatic, but also touched on darker visions. I would speak more of both, but there is a futility to recounting such tales, but suffice it to say I have known the “devil” and bliss in my own ways. My Black Works print series is an attempt to evoke this torment, and provide a manual of sorts to the anchorhold’s utility as a sort of conduit between the terrestrial and ethereal, where earth, roots, the cycle of the sun, and a desert of teeth provide a literal record of our consumption in the maintenance of our own bodies. The naked figure repeats, acting as both aggressor and victim. Figures twist, flail and cower in a void of encompassing darkness. The aggressor and tormentor in these works is no outside agent, but a battle within the self. This depiction is in concert with my speculations as to the nature of visions, both those which I have known and those recounted by many before me

Untitled (Hands)   from the   Black Works series  , mezzotint  2015

Untitled (Hands) from the Black Works series, mezzotint  2015

In the video component of The Anchorite and Black Works, I documented a performance as anchorite. Light and sound are coordinated together, the pitch of the tone designed to vibrate the paper hull of the anchorhold, now an empty vessel and artifact of the ritual. Through interpreting the history of the Anchorite and making one of my own, I attempt to fortify and interpret my own visions, both light and dark.