She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.
― Carl Sagan,
This year’s title for my annual solo show at the West End Gallery, which opens July 22, is Contact. It has nothing to do with the famous Carl Sagan novel of the same name about our first encounter with an advanced alien life form, which was also made into a film with Jodie Foster. But even though there is no real relationship between the Sagan story and this show, I did come across the quote above from the book that meshes very well with what I see as the theme of this show and much of my work in general: how we cope with our role is as small and insignificant creatures in an endlessly vast and cold universe.
The painting above is from the show and is a 20″ by 30″ canvas titled Bearable Vastness. I think, going back to the quote, that the Red Tree here has come to realize that the only thing that will bring it the peace of mind to accept its place as a tiny being in a vast universe of powerful forces beyond its comprehension is to work to achieve love in some way in its own time and place.
Put simply, love is the answer.
I know that in the current environment of terror, anger, hatred and outright stupidity that these words sound absolutely naive.
But I have never known of a time when anger and hatred and violence and ignorance have spawned anything but more of the same. Never has a lasting peace risen from hatred and intolerance of others. Nothing positive has ever been built on a foundation of hatred, anger and fear. Only demagogues and dictators rise from that swamp. For them, love is always replaced with fear and cynicism.
Maybe you still will call it naive. So be it. That’s your cross to bear. As for me, while the universe is vast and uncaring I will always choose love as the way to somehow endure it.
It’s the only choice I could possibly make.