Carol Bruns

The value of altered states of consciousness is the extension of the spectrum from the everyday, a capacity of the human nervous system that has been valued by cultures all over the world and in all times for their access to the meaning of dreams and a relationship to the dead, nature, and spirits. With the advent of the Enlightenment, this spectrum fell into disfavor in the West, but has been in revival since the early modern artists discovered the art of pre-industrial cultures while Freud and Jung established depth psychology. The tradition of incorporating the unconscious into Western artistic processes began with cubism, surrealism, art brut, cobra, and various expressionisms.
What is unique in this moment is a century of science inquiring into the nature of consciousness, extensive ethnology and anthropology studies of pre-modern cultures, and an understanding that it is the experience of the spectrum that counts, not an either/or approach, or the adoption of a style or manner in art. It can enable a viewer to perceive the relation between the material world and the more powerful inner world that gives it meaning.
To find a visual language that could speak of my travels into the unconscious, I needed to make space for the viewer's imagination to roam and reflect which I felt needed to look rustic, incomplete, and irregular with minimal sense of perfection and control. This language hinges on my invention of a new method of using paper: I construct large sheets of laminated recycled newspaper with rice paste, and then form hollow shapes. With a simple steel stand and blocks of styrofoam recycled from industrial packing materials, I can build a large figure, adding to and cutting away in a very flexible process as is clay or wax. I use a hammer, Japanese hand saw, sheetrock knife, and scissors and coat the paper with the thin finish plaster I used back in the seventies. It is completed with patinas devised from powdered pigments, unusual minerals, and glitter. The lightness of paper and foam enable me to physically lift and move large work around the space, and it is economical.
Although I studied painting, I turned to sculpture about 25 years ago. At this time, life events shook me to the core and I began to meditate. It was by turning within, with guidance from the experienced teachers, that I learned to breathe consciously and go deeper into the swirling emotions and thoughts that blocked my way. In meditation, the unconscious comes into view. That is, what is there that you do not intend or will, that you become aware of. This vast continent of experience is the core of my art work. In fact, I make art by having an idea and a sketch, then allow the unconscious to act. I am a nature addict, and take to my local park in every kind of weather where in walking meditation, I see everything as alive.