It is with both honor and pleasure I introduce our next artist interview with, brilliant minded, and extremely talented, Cody Seekins. But first , I want to thank Cody for the opportunity to provide our readers with this fantastic insight into your process and your work. Without, further delay let us begin.
JackDirt: Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Cody Seekins:I’m a 33 year old currently living in the D.C. Metro area. I have transited much in my life, starting as a military dependent of the U.S. Army, then later through independent explorations. I’ve lived in 7 U.S. States, Europe, and southeast Asia.
Having been raised to adapt to consistent cultural and geographic changes was in a sense a primer for the incredible altered states I later experienced through the use of psychedelics, primarily Lysergic Diethylamide. I became interested in how various realities assembled by consciousness could be mapped and interwoven through the painting process in time.
JD: Do you have any formal training or artistic background?
CS: My original serious investigation of the art began as a completely non formal experimentation. The intent from the beginning was to create the most complete work possible as it relates to fine art and fine consciousness. Originally this meant a shedding of formal assumptions in order to gain access to the pathological character of energies overlooked from a mundane frame. One example included a painting session where I entered into an exquisite immediacy, upon which time an arc of static shock struck my painting arm from the television set 2 feet away. I was so vacant of ego at the time, the direct energetic jolt of my nerves managed to place that stroke firmly on the canvas. There are of course an infinitude of gradients between that kind of application and the formal academic systems for rendering. Once I was satisfied that I could reliably reach for altered states for the art, I looked to build the rational foundation just as firmly. I pursued and gained my BA in Studio Art from Wichita State University, and currently I’m working on my Master’s in Fine Art Painting from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Basically I am balancing the abandon of an abstract expressionist’s wet dream with the almost schizoid redundancy of still life referentialism so that, perhaps in a five years, I can begin a supreme series of intensive shamanic pieces from which I can materialize metaphysical phenomena and polish it to hyper realist perfection.
JD: What are your inspirations?
CS: In essence the prime inspiration is to find within the process of creating an artwork a novel or heightened state of awareness, and to allow that condition to revolutionize the approach. You could say this is meta to any particular visual subject. I do; however, have several archetypes which I find myself returning to as a personal meditation. This would include reflections on eastern mystical iconographies, coming of age male youth, androgyny, and various birds from the parrot family.
JD: A large aspect of your art is Shamanic Revivalism, can you briefly describe what Shamanic Revivalism is? Can you share this process of gaining mystical insight for your paintings?
CS: Shamanic Revivalism is a call for a return of mystical frames of awareness into synthesis with our contemporary society, on a personal level, and as a more respected and understood facet of our culture at large. The process for gaining mystical insight into my own paintings happens in a number of ways. Entheogens played a strong role in the original catalyst for such creative states. At this point creating a sacred or clear mental and physical space to work within; building the environmental frame to be conducive to the creative process, can enable a mystical consciousness. I find that basic aspects of taking care of oneself are important; proper rest, good nutrition, cessation of alcohol or any type of sedative. Consciously cultivating the mimetic character of our environment is helpful as well, such as reducing our video hypnosis and superficial distraction on the consumer industry’s fishhooks. Considering all received information and being suspect of all assumptions has been a key for shifting cognitive modes. Ultimately, it boils down to a kind of psychic discipline, that, with or without the use of a psychedelic sacrament, allows for expanded awareness.
JD: Your latest piece Budgie Sattva I, features a Budgie (parakeet) in deep meditation, perched upon a dorje. Can you describe the thought process behind this piece and the symbolism?
CS: The Budgie has been a profound spiritual archetype for me over the course of my life. I have, on a number of occasions, experienced truly supernatural synchronicities with these birds. These began when I was 12 years old, after a pet budgie bonded to me, and has continued in many forms after her death. I am not exaggerating when I say I believe some kind of meta-budgie consciousness, perhaps even the transcendental love of my deceased pet, has continued to interact with me in various ways. The Budgie possesses an amazing social capacity for affection, perhaps the most distilled and pure expression of unconditional love I have ever had the benefit of knowing. This is the reason for the reference to the heart chakra at the top of the painting. The dorje as a symbol of the cessation of violence, was included as it relates to the great sense of peace the parakeet provides. The title Budgie-Sattva 1 is given because the Budgie has served to help clear the “dust” from my eyes by her example, in the same way a Bodhisattva refrains from enlightenment out of compassion to help others come closer to it.
JD: Some of your pieces, appear as abstract landscapes, such as Transmigration, and Atmospheric Leviathan, can you explain these pieces and the ideas behind them?
CS: These are fairly abstract conceptually as well. Transmigration pretty much built itself, and I was fortunate to be along for the ride. It was a very expressive psychedelic work which incorporates qualities from landscape, modernist art, as well as a multitude of cosmological frames. Loosely speaking, these works indicated a new phase in my development, a kind of apotheosis in art making. They also represent the first works which start to bring into solidarity the shamanic and formal approach of art making in my oeuvre. Atmospheric Leviathan is referenced from Transmigration; essentially a re-contextualization of the original channel. This is why it lacks the same high energy. I have a very strong interest in seeing how the shift of consciousness produces from the one fundamental map a whole new transform.
JD: Copley’s Dreamer is reminiscent of 1800′s portraits, except there are a few subtle aspects they seem other worldly. What was your inspiration for this portrait, did you do any research to achieve insight into old portraits.
CS:There was a period of time when I gave homage to painters of the Baroque and Romanticist eras. The painting which appropriates Copley’s portrait of the young man was a kind of painter’s allusion. Classical works from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Romanticist periods affected me through some kind of osmosis; as a boy I lived for 3 years in Italy, and another two years in Germany. During that time my exposure to classical artworks seeded my process. Literally, my art process is part of a European lineage. My Mother began taking oil painting classes from a Neopolitan master when I was 10, and though it would be over a decade before I picked up the brush, I am certain the familiarity of the media is what led me to adopt it in the first place.
JD: Your piece cupid is reminiscent of traditional paintings of aphrodite. Can you explain this piece in greater detail as well as what your underlying motivation for it may have been?
CS:Similar to the Copley piece, but much more involved, the piece is a surrealist metamorphosis of a William Adolphe Bouguereau oil painting titled “Cupidon”. The motivation was to create an extraordinary rendition of a piece which would tie together the psychedelic, formal, art historical, and the archetype of androgynous youth, into one piece. I spent about 6 months on this piece, and you might say it is my first serious attempt at a Gesamptkunstwerk or “complete work”.
JD: Alternately, breakfast of cherubs references more pop culture and carries a different weight than your more traditional pieces. Could you explain this piece, and what do you imagine the rest of the cherubs day to be like?
CS: This piece is kind of a postmodern pop surrealist piece which illustrates the “breakfast” of many modern teens–the paraphenalia, if you will, of our contemporary cupids or cherubim. It specifically updates the concept and eliminates the haze of Rococo censorship or romanticism associated with cherubs even in the common mindset of mainstream culture. As far as this cherub’s day beyond breakfast, I’d imagine it would consist of forays into experimental sex and chemical use. These cherubs have dirt underneath their fingernails.
JD: What is your favorite piece and why?
CS: Hard to say, because each part of my overall body of works has a special and generally unique function. Transmigration is definitely a favorite, as is the cupid painting, and Budgie-Sattva I and II. I choose these because they each represent the best example from different periods of development. They are the core of a particular creative strain. Cupid represents the hybridity of the classical and psychedelic, Transmigration was the purest expression of consistent Zen-like states expressing themselves fluidly in the moment, and the Budgie paintings mark my transition into a new popular paradigm, combining portraiture, mysticism, and the coming of age process as it relates to conditions of karma and transcendence.
JD: Do you have any upcoming shows, work, or prints for sale you would like to promote?
CS: Original works for sale are available for purchase on CodySeekins.com. Prints or commissions can be negotiated on a case-by-case inquiry also by contacting me through the site. I often show at the Hive Gallery in Los Angeles in various thematic or group shows, and will be a Featured Artist of the Hive in October 2011. My website has a very complete blog as well as a newsletter users can sign onto for any press information related to shows, works in progress, completed works, and other projects or topics of note.
JD: I just want to thank Cody again for taking the time to share with us his work and allow us glimpse into his mind and soul. If you are curious about Cody and want to see or learn more I highly encourage you to go to his site and see his shows if you can!