“I am always interested in the findings that make us one in the eyes of God.”
- CEPHAS AGBEMENU
In our initial actions as human beings, we announced our arrival in the cosmos all at once by creating virtual replicas of our experience that we could hold in our hands and witness upon the walls of caves. This uncanny ability to virtually recreate the worlds of our experience – physical, emotional, mental, philosophical, spiritual – is what is most mysterious and enchanting about being human. The human condition – the entire history of humanity – is our collective heritage and the world of art is its universal expression.
It is as if the aesthetic urge is our very reason for being. We are, after all, the cosmos itself, looking back on itself, from within. The aesthetic illusions we create are replications of the essential shock of separation and expressions of our deepest urge toward re-unification with the entire universe.
Occasionally, in my creative life, I experience a shock of recognition upon encountering a fellow artist with whose life and work I sense a particular resonance. When this occurs, the aesthetic connections between us run far deeper than mere appearances.
This year, I am pleased to be involved in ongoing projects with Cephas Yao Agbemenu, an artist from Kenya, Africa and a Fulbright Scholar. Several of these projects are coming to fruition next week, when Cephas will be in residence at Reading Area Community College.
Since the day we met, Cephas and I have been engaged in discussions regarding the spiritual dimension of art. I proposed this investigation during our initial meeting and it has flowered into a wide-ranging discourse on the universal aspects of human experience and how they are expressed in the lives of artists and the cultural manifestations of mankind.
It is always revivifying to be in the presence of an interdisciplinary artist and scholar. Cephas’ work and words are constant reminders of the singular heritage of the human family, our African origins in the mists of pre-history, the parallels underlying the symbolism of word and image in all cultures, and the myriad correspondences within aesthetic experience.
The unity of life and the universality of consciousness have always been the basis of spiritualism, myth, magic, and ritual. And now, with the most recent breakthroughs in scientific research, we find ourselves on the threshold of discovering the elementary components of fractal, quantum, and holographic patterning which lie at the basis of biological life and consciousness.
What is most remarkable, perhaps, is that the history of art – from the staccato beats of aboriginal dream-time pictures to the fractal algorithms animating contemporary CGI – continually reminds us of these correspondences as if they are the secret code underlying all awareness.
The relationships are everywhere apparent for those with eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to feel, and minds to comprehend. Beneath the veil of appearance lies the unity of our deepest experience. There is a pattern to our lives that animates, coordinates, and finds expression in the common rhythms of world culture. Our art resonates in unison with the entire cosmos and so do we.
Cephas Agbemenu will present a free lecture in the Miller Center of Reading Area Community College, on Wednesday, March 3, at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Professor Agbemenu’s residency is the result of a joint request for a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence for the spring 2010 semester by RACC and Montgomery County Community College.
First image: Cephas Agbemenu.
Second image: “The Ancestor” by Cephas Agbemenu, Kisii soapstone, 1995, collection of the artist.