Vessels | Jason Leith
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Vessels | Jason Leith

What can be stripped away? What can be torn down? Is anything blocking the way the truest, deepest part of me wants to be poured out? Could a breaking release what lies within the confines of this vessel? My practice as of late has centered around portraiture that explores the intersection of humility and holiness. For these portraits, an additional theme of sacrifice took stage and the process embodied that meaning. The grueling process of constructing these canvases and gilding them in the somewhat ancient water-gilding technique became an act of sacrifice. I completed these paintings in front of crowds. After the final strokes, I slowly and painstakingly cut them down the middle and opened them up, sometimes with a handsaw, other times with a knife. The final images culminate with a face obscured by the gold gilded interior. St. John’s ancient notion that “We are not the Light, but we are witnesses to the light” led me to the portraits’ dismantling and inversion. Onlookers initially wondered, “Why ruin it? Is this what we’re called to do? Cut ourselves down?” One woman, after a performance in Altea, Spain asked, “Why sacrifice if it’s painful?” I simply had to make reference to the newly exposed gold surface. Halfway through the project, I got married. I felt such an intertwining of identity with my spouse that I included her in these self-portraits. The humble sacrifice was now about two people in relationship. It became communal. Email for inquiries: Jason@sacredstreets.org _______ Directed, Shot, Edited by Paul Logan Miller: http://vimeo.com/plogs