IOWA CONTEMPORARY ART   |   58 North Main Street, Fairfield, IA 52556   |   641-469-6252   |   bill@icon-art.org   |   icon-art.org  GALLERY HOURS: Tuesday  Friday, 12:00 to 4:00pm, Saturday, 1:00 to 4:00pm and by appointment. ICON is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit educational charity. All donations are tax-deductible..
BILL’S ROOM 
Bill Witherspoon
IF THE MIND IS STILL, DOES THE HEART SEE? Recent work by Bill Witherspoon The exhibition consists of thirty monoprints made from insect and fungal-etched wood surfaces. These monoprint images display aspects of the lives of the organisms that commonly exploit the environment between bark and wood in living and dead trees. The wood surface from which each is made functions as a record of the activity-patterns (birth, growth, departure or death) of the organisms, and exhibits something of the individual intelligence of these creatures as they live out various phases of their life in their allotted time. Broader pattern-derived information is also embedded in the monoprint image, and may reflect a collective intelligence governing their interactions in an environment often crowded with multiple species. The monoprints are either printed with color derived from water-soluble wax-based pigments, or transparent watercolor pigments are used after embossing clean papers. All are made on internally sized watercolor paper. Gold leaf ranging from 12 to 24 carats is also used. For the observer to properly see what is being presented, a willingness to give full attention to the work is recommended—but more shouldn’t be required. With full attention, personal experience will be a function of the acuity of the senses, the activity of mind, the discrimination of intellect and the refinement of feeling. This should lead to rich perception. But what about beauty? Is it really correct that “beauty lies in the eye (or mind) of the beholder” or is there a reality—perhaps unspeakable—that emerges from the elements assembled by the artist and is independent of the observer’s perception and not even accessible to the discriminative mind and feelings of the beholder?   A possible way to locate such a reality might be to look to those experiences where the discriminating mind and feelings are not engaged, preferably, not even present—where the mind is completely still. No mind, no intellect, no ego means no “two”, no “judgment”, no “I”. But what is left? What remains is the heart—through which the empirical world of multiples necessarily gives way to a perception of oneness. But, is oneness actually seen? Just as the creatures have left a record of their lives in their woody world, so an artist’s work can become a record of his or her experience—both outer and inner. This is clearly the case with outer experience—the material elements and processes of an artwork; less obvious is the ability of the work to reflect the inner essence of a non-empirical or spiritual experience—but it can happen. Could this be the real beauty, the beauty that Keats refers to when he says, “’Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”?   A summary of the assumptions and intention applied to the process of making an artwork by this artist follows. It may give a helpful direction to the attention of a curious observer of the exhibition. Making art is not an end in itself; it is a tool (or technology). The purpose of using this tool is to enhance the artist’s ability to see deeply. Seeing deeply should result in directly experiencing the oneness that underlies the empirical world— the oneness of beauty, truth and love.  Direct experience of oneness would necessarily require development of a unique mode of perception, one that is mitigated by the heart with its unifying capability rather than by the discriminative faculties of mind, intellect and ego that maintain the world of differences and separation. To develop such a mode of perception the artist should work from a mindless state wherein the heart is fully functional. In time, with practice and grace, seeing with the heart should reveal the essential oneness of Self or God. If the mind is still, does the heart see? And, if such seeing occurs, is it evident in the artist’s work? And, if it is evident in the work…
Mono-print Series #58.3 (of 5).
Watercolor and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper. 2017. (Right side of set - paired with #67.6.) Watercolor and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper, 2017.
Mono-print Series #56.1 (of 10).     
Mono-print Series #55.5 (of 5).
Mono-print Series #66.6 (of 8).
Mono-print Series #70.7 (of 12).
Water-soluble wax pigments and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper, 2016 Water-soluble wax pigments and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper, 2016. Water-soluble wax pigments on paper and 18 ct. gold leaf, 2016. Watercolor and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper. 2017. Watercolor and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper. 2017. (Left side of set - paired with #66.6.)
Mono-print Series #67.6 (of 7). 
Mono-print Series #65.1 (of 11). 
Water-soluble wax pigments and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper, 2016. (Left side of set, paired with #59.5.)
Mono-print Series #59.1 (of 8).
Mono-print Series #59.5 (of 8).
Water-soluble wax pigments and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper, 2016. (Right side of set, paired with #59.1.)
Mono-print Series #72.1 (of 4).
Mono-print Series #72.4 (of 4).
Watercolor and 24 ct. gold leaf on paper, 2017. Watercolor and 24ct. gold leaf on paper. 2017.