Gibbs Rounsavall: Cultivated Garden
This body of work was pulled from an 8-month period beginning in late February 2020, at the outset of the Pandemic. A period of time filled with global anxiety, panic, grief and unity and what would become my most prolific time creatively. On instinct, my lizard brain had completely taken over. All that mattered was maintaining the safety of my family. Forget about reading a good book, or getting lost in television. My primary concern was stocking up on toilet paper and establishing a sanitizing protocol for every object and person that entered our house. My family’s busy, child-centered and overly scheduled life abruptly ceased. For a person who prides himself on control, I felt especially disoriented and struggled with processing the current situation. Sheltered in place at home for the unforeseeable future, I wondered, “what could I do?”
There was a daily reminder of the preciousness of life. Some people baked sour dough loaves. Others took on a variety of DIY projects. I had an overwhelming urge to paint. Focusing on my work allowed me to still my mind and make sense of the insensible. In response to the seeds of doubt planted by the pandemic, my studio began to overflow with paintings. I couldn’t work fast enough. Friends would ask me if I was “inspired” by the current situation to paint. This seemed like a woefully inadequate way to describe it. I had a sense of urgency. In the studio, the work developed simultaneously. I would tend to one and move down the line to the next. Quickly, the walls were covered with a variety of shaped canvases, bursting with color, competing for attention. It reminded me of plants stretching out, competing for sunlight.
I heard one psychologist muse during my many hours of podcast ingestion that if we are able to focus on any good during a period of grief and uncertainty, it can help us to “integrate the trauma of the experience”. To find meaning. If we’re successful we can find post-traumatic growth as opposed to post-traumatic stress. This made sense to me. With the preciousness of life ever present now, I’ve been asking myself, “how can I live a more vibrant life?”
It begins by cultivating my own garden.