"The Sacred Mirrors are a journey through our physical, socio-political, and spiritual anatomy." - Alex Grey
The internal architecture of the human skeleton, viscera, blood vessels, nerves, the subtle energetic system of the body--all are fodder for the trippy visions of artist Alex Grey. "My life is committed to making artwork that wakes people up to the miracle of Life", the artist once said, and a group a friends and supporters sought to make a sacred space of contemplation dedicated to the Sacred Mirrors series and Grey's other works--the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM).
Although Grey felt a natural setting to be the ideal location of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, CoSM resides in NYC where life-sized and super-sized portraits and sculptures convey Grey's unique perspective on consciousness and the web of life.
A documentary set inside the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, the CoSM DVD gives viewers a tour of the "multi-dimensional perspective painted visions of common human experiences" such as birth, death, kissing, copulating, and praying. Sculptures such as World Soul--a bronze sculpture depicting a multi-faced winged guardian atop a globe--are also included in the DVD.
The soft-spoken Grey barely touches on media and method, rather addressing the larger spiritual and socio-political themes represented in his work. It would seem that hallucinogenic drugs have inspired a large portion of his work. For example, he says that a "high-dose LSD experience" inspired Theologue--a painting where Grey attempted to capture the essence of how humanity creates this elaborate illusion known as "reality".
Indeed, Grey credits his wife, Allyson, with inspiring the Sacred Mirror series. When first describing how he met his wife--and some of his artistic visions--Grey shares: "I met my wife while tripping on LSD...and we continued to sacramentally ingest the hallucinogenic host to learn from these experiences. On one of these adventures, while lying in bed listening to music, I became a ball of light..."
For some reason, Allyson isn't interviewed in this 80 minute DVD, although one of her fantastic geometric paintings was on display (I can't be sure, but I *believe* it was Jewel Net of Indra--I don't recall them saying the name on the DVD, but I think it's the same painting shown in the book Transfigurations). In my opinion, it was one of the most arresting images show in this documentary!
In the CoSM DVD, Alex Grey comes across as a thoughtful and compassionate man with his head screwed on straight. Frankly, I was surprised, especially after viewing some of the dark, gruesome, and disturbing (to me) images found in his earlier work and depicted in the book Transfiguration (not to mention his frequent use and praise of DMT, pot, and LSD.)
While the documentarian put a lot of hard work into this DVD (as evidenced in the extras), I was disappointed that Grey didn't share much on the media he used with the various Sacred Mirrors paintings. (However, I looked up the paintings in Transfigurations and found mention of this kind of minutia.) For example, I found out from Transfigurations that the head of the bronze sculpture World Soul was filled with "sacred substances" (i.e. drugs), religious symbols, prayers, Native American maize, hair snippets and other items before it was sealed and consecrated. None of this was mentioned in the DVD for some reason.
The CoSM DVD is a gentle introduction to the X-ray visions, philosophy, and transcendent art of Alex Grey. If you're already a fan--and have books like Transfiguration--you may not find much new here (other than Grey's soft-spoken demeanor). If you have the Sacred Mirrors Cards but would like to know more on Grey's method and perspectives, you'll likely enjoy the CoSM DVD and perhaps even Transfigurations.
You can visit CoSM online at [...] for more information.
Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)