To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
– Wendell Berry
Docking on the Orphic Shore is a collection of works by Seana Reilly exploring a place that does not lend itself to easy exposition, though many have tried to point the way by indirection. The Greeks told stories of Eurydice and Persephone in the underworld; the Zen masters posed riddles with one hand clapping; the Sufis joked about fishing in a barrel – all in an effort to touch lightly on this place without contaminating or burdening it.
The Orphic Shore cannot be approached entirely from one path, be it words, music, religion, math, philosophy, theoretical physics, or so many other toeholds. Discussions between these endeavors are often centered around boundaries and exclusions – the “yes, but”. The Orphic Shore is decidedly “yes, and”. Every one of these fields of inquiry, within its given parameters, adds to the exploration of this untethered place of human potential and awakening.
Reilly has chosen to approach this far shore by means of visual imagery resulting from a communion with the movement of water and earth. By subjecting her materials to the forces that drive the evolution of the earth, she creates imagery that is similar to the actual patterns carved into the surface of the planets, though on a much smaller temporal and spatial scale, one which she can hold in her hands. These explorations manifest in a variety of forms, from small works on paper to large hand-bound books full of pools and cascades of liquid graphite. She has little control over this liquid medium, which continuously moves and changes, eventually settling into fixed patterns that could have been a thousand different things at any given moment. This body of work is the artist’s personal meditation on releasing control, giving up attachment to outcomes, and finding equanimity and peace by immersing the self in the transitory and the actual.
Seana Reilly was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and now resides in Atlanta, GA. Ms. Reilly left her previous architectural career to become a professional studio artist. Her work is directly influenced by this professional history, as well as by an interest in buddhist thought and the sciences. She has works in the permanent collection of the High Museum, in various corporate and public collections, and has appeared in publications including the International Drawing Annual and New American Paintings.