Sunday, April 25, 2010

Artist's spiraling visions include acts of nature

Thomas Moore's friend Pat Toomay, author and former NFL player, writes about artist Tom Wuchina for today's The Tennessean in "After tornado, health scare, artist Tom Wuchina sees life with a new spin". Toomay describes Wuchina's rural property after a tornado in 2008:
"During this time, Tom surveyed the damage to his farm. The tornado had come up the valley, turning horizontal just before veering away at a 90-degree angle. All told, 1,000 trees had been destroyed, sheered off or had their giant root balls sucked out of the ground, along with Tom's sculpture garden, which had been ripped out in its entirety — ripped to shreds and scattered to the four directions.

He felt he had brushed up against something profound in the forces of the tornado bringing near death. He searched, moved by the feeling of having something necessary elude him, and then through a series of conversations he was exposed to the idea that indigenous people would have seen a certain significance in these events immediately, the convergence of his attraction to the gyre and the subsequent appearance of the tornado.

They would have spoken of it unabashedly, as if the two were obviously and intimately linked. For them, the fact of the convergence would mark Tom as someone special beyond his artistry, as a sort of healer or sage. Are indigenous people remembering something that we've forgotten? Other kindred ideas were furnished as he learned of an inspired Renaissance magus, Marsilio Ficino, who would have also pointed out the correspondence, perhaps citing the famous Hermetic saying current at the time of da Vinci, Donatello and the other great Italian artists: "As above, so below."

Nowadays, however, one must look under rocks for equivalent expressions. Fortunately for people like Tom, they're out there. Specifically, they can be found in the work of Thomas Moore, for example, who, writing about the gospels, cites 15th-century theologian Nicholas of Cusa's insistence that "the whole of human life individualizes in you."
Toomay also writes about Wuchina's heart attack in 2009, concluding, "Today, Tom continues to rehabilitate himself, his farm and his art. Only now he is seeing with new eyes. He is feeling with an open heart."