Last Friday was the South Miami Art Walk opening event. Green Monkey South Miami, the studio where I currently teach yoga—another occupation of mine—hosted the Tiberius Art Studio. Together, my father and I had fifteen paintings on display in the large, gallery-like room. It was invigorating to be able to discuss the art with so many people, old friends and new viewers alike.
Everyone agreed that the texture of our knife paintings was something that had to be experienced in person. It doesn’t come across in the photographs how three dimensional they really are. As I watched people’s reactions, I noticed that some people seemed to connect most with the birds, some with the more traditional landscapes, and others seemed most interested in the unusual close up compositions.
One of the most encouraging conversations I had was with a young woman who expressed that the paintings captured the feeling of being in nature. It was just like being there, she said, and they gave her a sense of peace and well-being. She connected her emotional response to the paintings with the theory of biophilia, popularized by E.O. Wilson and originally coined by Erich Fromm. Briefly, biophilia is “love of life or living systems.” Biophilia explains our attraction to other living things as a product of our evolutionary history. We have evolved to be in nature and not in cubicles within a concrete landscape.
I am very interested in her comment that nature has the power to restore our equanimity. I have noticed this restorative effect myself. I am encouraged by the idea that my paintings might help people reconnect with the value of wild nature for their own well-being, rather than out of obligation to an abstract moral ideal.