"Beestung" acrylic painting by Jamie Berry
Detail of ‘Beestung’ by Jamie Berry, 18″ x 24″, acrylic on canvas.

This is sort of a strange painting that falls somewhere between what I’m doing now and my Dazzling Dissolving paintings from a few years back (which had been inspired by my own life events and by Murasaki Shikibu’s classic story The Tale of Genji). Considering that I fell in love smack dab in the middle of working on it, completing a series based on unrequited or interrupted passions became a lot less compelling to me, my heart had been won. I realized the way the world is is the way the world has always been. It doesn’t mean that we cease caring or even expressing frustration at it all, but we can take comfort in the fact that the drama in which we are embroiled is the drama that everyone at every time has been embroiled in as it fit their times. Life will always be full of challenges of one kind or another. We can do our best, like fighters, and our spoils will be hearts that know they were always true to what mattered to them, and the adventures we have had along the way. The rest is for history to sort out.

This picture is, though, about being infatuated, be it with people, or with things, or with ideas. Originally, it had more of a heart-shaped bee creature delivering its cupid-esque sting, but I liked the bomb better as a metaphor for infatuation – it usually comes with a lit fuse that either sputters out, or is doused and extinguished when reason returns or integration occurs, or it burns its length and explodes into a million pieces.

Where the picture fits, I don’t really know, and I’m not sure the idea really panned out. These in-between works always end up being mile markers of sorts for me in that they are both a culmination of what has gone before and a portent of what is to come. Given that, they are the ones that stand out to me looking back, however out of place they may have seemed at the time.

"Beestung" acrylic painting by Jamie Berry


"Tethered" acrylic painting by Jamie Berry
Detail of ‘Tethered’ by Jamie Berry, 20″ x 30″, acrylic on canvas.

Tethered is a word that describes the linking of one device – such as a smartphone or a computer – to another so that they may share an access point to a network, be it a wireless network, a hard-wired network, or even a phone network.

This allows the previously non-networked device to enjoy access to all that the network grants using the connected device as a hub. It’s a simplified explanation of what constitutes the World Wide Web in the most basic terms. It is also true of the radio, television, and telephone networks of the past (my grandmother, a dauntless woman of the Great Depression, once confessed to me that the telephone scared her to death when it first came into prominence, at the time it was Voodoo of the highest order. Social networks consisted of gossiping over the back-yard fence in those days, and ‘The Grapevine’ was a potent tool).

After a period of time, the longer devices are connected to other devices, the more that they exchange information and contribute to the data pool, the more pronounced become the benefits of being tethered. Information is passed freely among them and is accessible to any other devices that have a point of access, creating a resource that is vast in its scope. There is no denying the power of a collective.

Tethered is also a term that describes the restriction of movement of one object that is tied to another, either literally or philosophically. Objects that are tethered in this manner eventually become entangled in a closed-feedback-loop, and though access to the information within the collective is free to any that are a part of the chain, no information originating outside of its points of access will be able to enter the stream. This eventually leads to entropy and the decay of the system itself – nothing can be recycled indefinitely, at some point everything must evolve or cease to exist.

In the modern world, we walk the line between these two extremes. Unfettered by the self-imposed, collective isolation of a closed-feedback-loop, connection can enrich our lives and broaden our horizons in ways we never imagined as we realize there’s truly no separation between us. Alternately, when we base our connection on false premises, prejudice, and alienation, it can take us over the edge of a cliff, one after another.

Each of us gets to decide which of these bonds we are creating, and whether our contributions are an invitation to expand or to explode.

"Tethered" acrylic painting by Jamie Berry

If You Peel Away the Layers

"Skin" pen drawing by Jamie Berry

Inside the skin, outside the skin.

We pile on the layers and strip them away again. Wouldn’t it be so much simpler if we believed the coat we were born with were indeed the perfect fit?

This was a study for a painting that was unfortunately lost to the ages, but I still like the idea. What is outside the skin is a reflection of what we believe is inside, and whether deemed good or bad, it will come to life when we continue to feed it.

This is a detail, the full image is in the gallery.