The art I’d made over the previous three decades had served many purposes, all perfectly viable for the time of life in which they were created. I’d gotten my university art degree, made a living from my paintings, pleased critics and won awards, expressed my creative urges and enjoyed myself. What I hadn’t done was to intentionally combine my creative, art-making process with what I considered to be the most important work of my life: the search for self-knowledge, with the hopeful purpose of finding more contentment for myself and bringing change to our needy world, no matter how small.
Previously, I’d used reading, writing, yoga, prayer, meditation, attending group gatherings (like church, for instance) and sharing with trusted friends to explore my inner landscape. I’d considered the process to be successful, and an ever-expanding endeavor. This time I would take my search through the vehicle of painting. I would have eagerly jumped on the concept if it weren’t for the cynical ghosts of my training in art academia who I imagined would mercilessly criticize my intentions for being an unhip, unintelligent hippy endeavor—like something done at workshop for “finding yourself.” But I stalwartly tabled this distraction, leaving the professors in my head behind, and vowed to include it in my investigations. From that moment I knew I had a vast reservoir of subject matter to draw from, always available. Even the darkest stuff in my mind was up for grabs.
Beginning this series felt a lot like going into a confessional and revealing my deepest secrets. Only instead of baring my soul to a priest, I was exposing myself to the general public! The only thing that tempted me to go forward into this domain of vulnerability was something I’ve always found irresistible—curiosity. I wanted to see for myself the fantastic menagerie that might emerge from making my innards into paintings, and I wanted to see others’ reactions to them, horrified or not. The intensity of communication might lead to a monumental connection, especially if viewers personally identified with my mind-states.
I’ve no doubt that other people will relate to some of my states of mind. Because of our individual uniqueness, it’s not likely that any one person would relate to all of them. But in my connections with many people through selling and teaching art for the past 30 years, I’ve found that not one of my foibles, shortcomings, or desirable traits is exclusively a Dori thing. When I’ve disclosed these things, time and time again bonds are forged with others who relate to my humanness. I’m convinced that our disconnectedness from others begins with our secrets. We stay hidden because we are broken, and we don’t get fixed by staying hid.
The painting above refers to battling with professors in my head.