Temple's TangleWave Art Gallery

==Interior Castle (Revisited)==

Interior Castle (Revisited), acrylic on canvas, 33"x33" © 1989 (private collection)
For just as a great stream of water could never fall on us without having an origin somewhere. . .just so it becomes evident that there is someone in the interior of the soul who sends forth these arrows. . .
--Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila
[trans: E. Allison Peers]

Interior Castle (Revisited) is my second version of Interior Castle. Both Interior Castles are loosely based on St. Teresa's description of the soul as an interior castle:
I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle
made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal,
in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven,
there are many mansions.
--Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila [Peers]

The cubes in Interior Castle (Revisited) represent the various dwelling places Teresa describes as composing her soul. One reason why I chose the cube shape to represent these dwelling places is because it is crystalline, referring to Teresa's idea of the "soul's castle" as being like "a very clear crystal." Another important attribute of the cube shape is that it, being composed of squares, corresponds to the square shape of the canvas.

Although St. Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen did not know each other, it is interesting to note that, according to Hildegard, the square shape itself symbolizes the "maternal" attributes of God. For instance, in her vision of the "Golden Tent [Scivias]" Hildegard depicts the God-head as a four-sided, tent-like form impregnating Mary's womb. Her representation of the divinity as quaternity, as well as Trinity, gives a place for the "maternal" aspects of God. Hildegard explicitly relates "quaternity," as a tent shape, to "maternity" in her Letter to Abbot Adam of Ebrach:

The young woman whom you see is Love.
She has her tent in eternity. . . .it was love
which was the source of this creation
in the beginning when God said: "Let it Be!"
. . . the whole of creation was formed through love.
[Divine Works; Cunningham]

St. Teresa categorized seven different dwelling places in her book, Interior Castle, but I have painted many more cubes in Interior Castle (Revisited) because her actual description of her experience within these dwelling places is much more dynamic and fluid than a rigid adherence to seven rooms or cubes would portray. There are not seven dwelling places but a million. As described in reference to my first Interior Castle painting, Teresa's fluidity is most apparent in that she does not portray the journey inwards toward God as being spiral or linear:

You must not believe the mansions to be
arranged in a row, one behind the other,
but fix your attention on the center. . . .
Think of a palmito (a shrub with thick
layers of leaves enclosing a succulent,
edible kernel) which has many outer rinds
surrounding the savory part within, all of
which must be taken away before the center
can be eaten. Just so around this central
room are many more, as there also are above it.
[Interior Castle; Peers]

I tried to get a sense of this envelopment, intricacy and three-dimensionality by superimposing the cubes numerous times and at various angles. I also put the darker, receding colors and the lighter, emerging colors in unexpected places to undermine the viewer's conception of a "cube in space." Both the unexpected coloration and the increasing fragmentation of the cubes are meant to draw the viewer into the painting. In so doing, I hope to induce a type of "mindless state" in the viewer that may, in some manners, recapitulate the "loss of self" Teresa describes as occurring during meditation.

The superimposition of cubes on top of each other also depicts the transformations of both identity and perception that occur during various stages of meditation. A sense of distinction between interior and exterior is lost; it transforms and fragments until a threshold is crossed and a completely new identity "in God" is found. Accordingly, the outer cubes in the painting are less diffused and more clearly defined, while the boundaries among the inner cubes become increasingly blurred and fragmented.

God is represented not only by the painting's silver background, indicating that God is ubiquitous, but also by the silver cross in the middle of the painting. As in the spinning of a cocoon, God's "womb" and the soul's "womb" are becoming indistinguishably intertwined. The central cross, representative of Christ, is an appropriate symbol for Teresa's description of ultimate union with God. It is appropriate because she describes herself as uniting with both the God-head and with Christ. In the innermost "seventh dwelling place," she describes herself as having become Christ-like:

Do you know when people really become spiritual?
It is when they become slaves of God and are branded
by His sign, which is the sign of the cross, in the token
that they have given Him their freedom. Then He can
sell them as slaves to the world as he himself was sold.
[ Interior Castle; Peers]

The innermost cube that contains the cross can be viewed as both coming forward and receding backwards. This shift in the cube's positioning causes a shift in the cross: The cross can be viewed either as completely surrounded by cubes/dwelling places, or it can be viewed as part of the background that surrounds the cubes/dwelling places. This shifting relates to Teresa's paradoxical notion that one should seek God/Christ within oneself, and yet heed Christ's warning not to "try to hold me within yourself, but hold yourself within me [The Collected Works, Vol. 1; Kavanaugh/Rodriguez]."

Light is another symbol for Christ. The silver portions of the cross extend out to incorporate blue and green fragments. These blue and green fragments then hit the corners of the four other cubes and appear to diffract as light would if it were actually shining out of the cross through crystal. Teresa also uses light imagery to depict union with God:

We might say that union is as if the ends of two
wax candles were joined so that the light they give
is one: the wicks and the wax and the light are all one. . .
[ Interior Castle; Peers]

The fragments, or Light, in this painting evolve both outward and inward, to and from their Source. Similarly, Teresa intones:

For just as a great stream of water could never fall
on us without having an origin somewhere. . .
just so it becomes evident that there is someone
in the interior of the soul who sends forth
these arrows and thus gives life to this life,
and that there is a sun whence this great light
proceeds, which is transmitted to the faculties
in the interior part of the soul.
[ Interior Castle; Peers]

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