BellaSpark March-April 2010 : Page 18

Surrendering to the Mystery An interview with Artist Jerry Wennstrom J erry Wennstrom is an accomplished artist living on Whidbey Island in Washington State. He has produced a large and diverse body of work, but he has not taken the traditional path. In 1979 he destroyed all the art he had created, gave away everything he owned and began a new life. Rather than rely on security or planning, he chose to trust in an unseen order. He accepted whatever came into his life as if it were dealt from the hand of God. It was through his artistic inspirations and explorations into the mystery of creation that Wennstrom became intrigued with what he calls “a creative realm larger than that controlled by will, strategy and good intentions.” Those common human faculties and what it meant to be an artist seemed too limiting; he was compelled to leap into unknown realms. “I felt that if I were to fully givemyself to the formless allurement I was sensing, it would completely transform and inspire both my art and my life.” Wennstrom describes letting everything go as placing the totality of his life on an altar. Now he has a whole new body of artwork. It is as if his life and work became sanctified and returned in full measure. After making the initial leap and committing himself to the process of living in a moment-to-moment trust and awareness, he discovered that whether he felt terrified or exhilarated about his journey depended on where he focused his attention. When he embraced that which was being born out of the liberated spaces, he experienced life as inspiring and supportive. He learned to depend on a new invisible structure, one that grew stronger with unconditional trust in the salvation inherent in each challenge he faced. 18 BellaSpark Mar/Apr 2010 www.BellaSparkMagazine.com Jan Waterman He found that strategies and good intentions could not lead him to the realm of mystery and possibility that he wished to experience. “I learned that I could trust the existing perfection in each moment. Without interfering, I could move and act with the mystery. That surrender allowed reality to unfold in ways more significant and beautiful than I ever could have arranged for myself,” Wennstrom stated. surrender and find renewal in its luminous emptiness whenever it calls. That is the ultimate gift, and once it is given, it lives on like a promise.” Wennstrom’s approach to his artwork might best be described as a creative form of wandering. “I follow any shimmering allurement that presents itself. An object that I run across might spark an inspiration, or an intuition will form a poetic link with a thought. Often I get a whimsical idea or someone will give me an object that fits perfectly into place. A conversation or even a dream might draw me deeper into a creative project. Many things stir into the mix as a cohesive whole begins to emerge,” Wennstrom explained. How has Wennstrom’s art changed since his surrender? “My new art comes from a more conscious grace.My path as an artist seems guided in some mysterious way.” His surrender offers him the opportunity to choose conscious “being”over “single-pointed doing.” Jerry believes that if we focus on only one aspect of our lives and create an identity around that aspect, it becomes a false god, too small to accommodate all of who we are. Wennstrom’s new art represents more For Wennstrom, surrender and renewal — what could be perceived as death of our limited ideas of reality, and subsequent rebirth of awareness of the love and joy inherent in each and every moment — have become a rhythmic, cyclical dance. “The mere willingness to let physical reality go, blesses it and brings a higher order of reality into play. Once we have befriended the cyclical event of ‘death’by meeting its demands and fully traversing the territory it requires, we can of an expression of the fullness of being. He is free from viewing art or the process of art as identification or refuge. “There is a mystery that seems to come through the work that is larger than the false art-as- god,” Jerry stated. “This mystery never fails to surprise me.” He believes that his current sculptures express something essential about the life/death paradox that he spent a good part of his creative life exploring. “So often what we think of as death can, in reality, offer the gift of life,”he explains. “And the

Surrendering to the Mystery: An interview with Artist Jerry Wennstrom

Jan Waterman

An interview with Artist Jerry Wennstrom<br /> <br /> Jerry Wennstrom is an accomplished artist living on Whidbey Island in Washington State. He has produced a large and diverse body of work, but he has not taken the traditional path. <br /> <br /> In 1979 he destroyed all the art he had created, gave away everything he owned and began a new life. Rather than rely on security or planning, he chose to trust in an unseen order. He accepted whatever came into his life as if it were dealt from the hand of God. <br /> <br /> It was through his artistic inspirations and explorations into the mystery of creation that Wennstrom became intrigued with what he calls “a creative realm larger than that controlled by will, strategy and good intentions.” Those common human faculties and what it meant to be an artist seemed too limiting; he was compelled to leap into unknown realms. <br /> <br /> “I felt that if I were to fully give myself to the formless allurement I was sensing, it would completely transform and inspire both my art and my life.” Wennstrom describes letting everything go as placing the totality of his life on an altar. <br /> <br /> Now he has a whole new body of artwork. It is as if his life and work became sanctified and returned in full measure. After making the initial leap and committing himself to the process of living in a moment-to-moment trust and awareness, he discovered that whether he felt terrified or exhilarated about his journey depended on where he focused his attention. When he embraced that which was being born out of the liberated spaces, he experienced life as inspiring and supportive. <br /> <br /> He learned to depend on a new invisible structure, one that grew stronger with unconditional trust in the salvation inherent in each challenge he faced. He found that strategies and good intentions could not lead him to the realm of mystery and possibility that he wished to experience. “I learned that I could trust the existing perfection in each moment. <br /> <br /> Without interfering, I could move and act with the mystery. That surrender allowed reality to unfold in ways more significant and beautiful than I ever could have arranged for myself,” Wennstrom stated. <br /> <br /> For Wennstrom, surrender and renewal — what could be perceived as death of our limited ideas of reality, and subsequent rebirth of awareness of the love and joy inherent in each and every moment — have become a rhythmic, cyclical dance. <br /> <br /> “The mere willingness to let physical reality go, blesses it and brings a higher order of reality into play. Once we have befriended the cyclical event of ‘death’ by meeting its demands and fully traversing the territory it requires, we can Surrendering to the Mystery An interview with Artist Jerry Wennstrom Jan Waterman surrender and find renewal in its luminous emptiness whenever it calls. <br /> <br /> That is the ultimate gift, and once it is given, it lives on like a promise.” Wennstrom’s approach to his artwork might best be described as a creative form of wandering. “I follow any shimmering allurement that presents itself. <br /> <br /> An object that I run across might spark an inspiration, or an intuition will form a poetic link with a thought. Often I get a whimsical idea or someone will give me an object that fits perfectly into place. <br /> <br /> A conversation or even a dream might draw me deeper into a creative project. Many things stir into the mix as a cohesive whole begins to emerge,” Wennstrom explained. How has Wennstrom’s art changed since his surrender? “My new art comes from a more conscious grace. My path as an artist seems guided in some mysterious way.” <br /> <br /> His surrender offers him the opportunity to choose conscious “being” over “single-pointed doing.” Jerry believes that if we focus on only one aspect of our lives and create an identity around that aspect, it becomes a false god, too small to accommodate all of who we are. <br /> <br /> Wennstrom’s new art represents more of an expression of the fullness of being. He is free from viewing art or the process of art as identification or refuge. “There is a mystery that seems to come through the work that is larger than the false art-asgod,” Jerry stated. “This mystery never fails to surprise me.”<br /> <br /> He believes that his current sculptures express something essential about the life/death paradox that he spent a good part of his creative life exploring. “So often what we think of as death can, in reality, offer the gift of life,” he explains. <br /> <br /> “And the Thing we willfully chase after, believing it will give us life, may lead to the death of our original dream and leave us unfulfilled.” <br /> <br /> Many of us fear that becoming more spiritual and taking our spiritual dimension seriously will require us to do exactly what Wennstrom did: leave our lives as we know them and go into the unknown without any props, safety nets or plans. <br /> <br /> Although he believes that surrender is a requirement in the natural cycles of our lives, he is confident that whatever circumstances we create in our lives will teach us about surrender. <br /> <br /> While challenges and opportunities to overcome fears are an important part of the process, there is no need to fear the depths of our spiritual journey. <br /> <br /> In truth, the journey leads us out of fear. What does Wennstrom miss now that he is living a more conventional life? “I don’t miss anything,” he declared. “My life is held and supported by the same invisible structure that held it from the beginning.” <br /> <br /> Wennstrom feels at home with the spirit of his journey. He is continually surprised by the way it plays out in his life. “Life invites us to discover what truly is and what is truly of value,” he stated.<br /> <br /> Jan Waterman is a writer, teacher and learner who is passionate about life and discovering what is true. She hopes that what she writes will open people to considering new thoughts and ideas about their spiritual selves. Waterman@frii.com<br />

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