Meditations Series #5 Essay

Ryan Brink

About Ryan Brink

I am an educator and painter currently working in rural Lexington, Virginia. Growing up almost everyone in my family had an artistic practice in some medium, and whether it was woodworking, sculpting, quilting, or painting, art was all around our house. My own painting practice began to develop as a Studio Art major in college, but that practise has always been paired with a wide variety of other interests. My work in college included studies in engineering, studio art, food systems, and other topics, and it has always been challenging for me to identify the ways that those experiences relate to one another. Today I find myself still facing the questions of how my various interests overlap, but I have also developed a more nuanced understanding of those interests and practices. One thing that has become quite clear is that regardless of how topically related or not my various interests and activities are, they all interplay with one another as I carry thoughts and questions with me from action to action. While this hasn’t quite provided me with the tangible answer I was searching for, I am hopeful that this realization can serve as the basis for continued connections.

About Meditations Series #5 Essay

For several years now I have been trying to find ways to incorporate my interests around issues of food systems and social justice with my artistic practice. Drawing upon complex issues and finding ways to accurately convey that complexity has manifested itself in a number of different series and styles throughout my painting career. The series this piece is from is an attempt at making those connections through works that allow space for critical thinking and meditation. The detail and repetition of the paintings require precision from my hands without strict concentration, so my mind is free to roam and think. The end result of this process is an essay relating to whatever topic that my mind drifted towards during the creation of that painting, and the physical painting itself. This specific iteration of my Meditations Series found me focusing around the concept of Tikkun Olam, and the issues that can stem from that. The physical product you see in this piece is the manifestation of countless hours spent thinking about the implications of a charge to “repair the world,” and how that specific wording carries with it an inherent sense of saviorism. I have also submitted the paired painting that resulted from that thinking.This style and the mindset on display in this piece have become a space for me to think critically about the structural issues present in our food system and broader society, and about my role within them. The concept of pairing artistic practice with critical reflection feels extremely relevant to the concept of Shmita. While I hadn’t heard of the concept of a Shmita year before hearing about this project, it feels like a practice very well in line with what I am attempting to do through my work within the Meditations Series.