Kaitlyn Dressel makes large abstract paintings woven with conversation, rough scribbles, and large flooded pools of pigment. It’s these imperfect childlike moments that lead her to into freedom. The compulsive energy of her work wavers between control and surrender, critique and acceptance. She works primarily on encompassing large canvases in which she studies the practice of stillness and allowing the conversations from the silence to fill the blank surface. Mining what happens when the body interprets language, feelings, and emotions. “Our eyes can be deceived to see what we are looking for, but the emergence of the empathetic creation is not easily put into words, but felt in the bones of our soul. Allowing for shared feelings and moments with others, is core to our humanity”
I work on several pieces at once, careful to allow each painting time to settle before making the next decision. Some pieces come together seamlessly and others feel like a wrestling match – more an argument than a conversation – or even a tense confrontation with myself. It reminds me of the story of Jacob in Genesis when He wrestled with God. The story of Jacob pulls me back to reality. It’s in Jacob’s story we can easily recognize our own elements of struggle: fears, darkness, loneliness, vulnerabilities, empty feelings of powerlessness, exhaustion, and relentless pain. We celebrate wealth, power, strength, confidence, prestige, and victory yet we despise and fear weakness, failure, mistakes, and doubt. Though we know that a measure of vulnerability, fear, discouragement, and depression come with normal lives, we tend to view these as signs of failure or even a lack of faith. To know Jacob’s story is to know his life was one of never-ending struggles.
In the end, Jacob does what we all must do. He confronts his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that are hurting him and faces God. Jacob wrestled with God all night. It was an exhausting struggle that left him crippled. It was only after he came to grips with God and ceased his struggling, realizing that he could not go on without Him, that he received God’s blessing (Genesis 32:29). Our lives are never meant to be easy. This is especially true when we take it upon ourselves to wrestle with God and His will for our lives.
Jacob’s wrestling with God reminds us of this truth: though we may fight God and His will for us, in truth, God is so very good. We may well struggle with Him through the loneliness of night, but by daybreak His blessing will come. God does not want to leave us with our trials, our fears, our battles in life. What we come to learn in our conflicts of life is that God proffers us a corresponding divine gift. It is through Him that we can receive the power of conversion and transformation, the gift of not only surrender, but freedom, and the gifts of endurance, faith, and courage.
It’s about expressing my feelings and sharing my God given creativity for people to enjoy and connect with. As I engage, I am changed. Every mark I make is a reaction to the previous, as are my conversations. There’s a rhythm. A story. A conversation. An exploration of how a mark can evolve through a series of unexpected layers and transitions in each brush stroke. Watching these marks stray from the destined route brings a foreign sense of comfort as I lose control of what I originally had planned.
As I paint, it reminds me of how God sees potential in us and pursues it. This path always provides a new beauty as the elements of nature take over and create something far more unique than I could have interpreted. The pigments of paint write, speak, dance, laugh and play together in their own creation. Each layer another conversation added. The details on each painting cannot be rushed; I patiently wait for layers to dry. It’s a gentle reminder of how God’s timing and love works in my own life. He waits patiently, even at times studying me as his canvas until the next layer is ready to pour. With such intention and purpose, He author and creator of my story. Never allowing the splattering of paint or mixing of colors or harsh scribbles to be anything less than perfect. The more I surrender to that and give up trying to control where the paint will run or how it will dry, the more beautiful and at peace each painting speaks.
The process of creation is a vulnerable one, and true vulnerability allows authentic creation. As do relationships. This is what it’s about. It is the gateway to meaningful conversations and empathetic connections with others. I hope these canvas walls can speak, comfort, and move in ways I often cant express through words.
The circle is a universal symbol with extensive meaning. It represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, God. "God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." - Hermes Trismegistus