Every neighbourhood in Toronto is rich with culture and talented residents who form a unique community that people come to know as their home. We met Carol Knowlton-Dority, a local artist and educator in the Bayview Village neighbourhood who offered to take us on a journey into one of her many masterpieces.
When I look at a painting, I ask myself, “What do I see?” I begin simply to make a list of whatever comes to mind. As the list comes to fruition, I become aware that the painting is becoming a mirror to my personal thoughts and feelings.
I showed my painting, Awakening, #1, to my friend, Irene. When I asked her what she saw in the painting, she said, “I see a woman in an ambiguous landscape. But unlike the landscape, the woman has a defined, positive form.” Irene’s observation was that the woman in the painting moves from darkness to light, as though she is encountering and negotiating the uncertainties of personal experience.
My paintings invite you to step into an awakened state of inner consciousness.
They offer a way of entering and exploring the known and unknown reaches within us.
We live in a complex world: always changing, yet ever the same. Our life experiences challenge our values, disturb our thoughts, expose our vulnerabilities, make us laugh and inspire us to love.
I asked others what they saw when they looked at the painting:
Kimberly saw a woman on the side of a cliff. “I’m not sure if she is going up or over something, but she is looking back for guidance.” Don saw the setting as fearsome and foreboding. Madeleine felt drawn into this woman’s journey. The moment depicted in the painting shows a pregnant pause in the action. Madeleine asked, “Will we travel together from this point on, or is this the place where we go our separate ways?”
When we allow ourselves to look at a painting and consider what we see, the experience becomes enlivening. We come to know ourselves more intimately.
When hearing what others see in a painting, I receive a view into their inner thoughts and feelings. This is a dynamic process that has the potential to develop in me a deeper sympathy for others.
Knowing ourselves more intimately, and feeling empathy for others are markers of an awakened state of inner consciousness. The value of the simple practice of asking “What do I see?” when looking at a painting, I feel contributes greatly to my ability to negotiate a complex world.