Anti-Psychorationalist Art Movement Poster

Rebellion against the Beast

The Devouring of the Heart-Tree










My final project for my Core Studio and Core Seminar class consisted of collaborating with other students in professor-determined groups based on our similar interests towards the creation of a fictional art movement with certain themes and specifications in mind, and pieces associated with these themes that would be shown in a makeshift showcase on the last day of class as well as in student-made catalogs. My group decided on creating a fictional art movement based solely on the spiritual, artistic, philosophical, and poetic side of psychology as a field of study, doing away with the clinical and septic scientific aspects of the field through our common belief of art as a valid form of therapy for people. As part of our new art movement (which we called Anti-Psychorationalism), we professed the belief of the importance of the psychiatrist in actually empathetically connecting to his or her clients for who they are (human beings) as opposed to detaching themselves from them and seeing them as a collection of parts and as a host of psychiatric problems. According to the parameters of our art movement assignments, each student in our group was tasked with creating 2-3 pieces in whatever medium we wished to use (hand drawn or spiritual), and were limited to use only 3 colors (black and two other colors) for the pieces when they would be printed out for Core Seminar’s final catalog assignment. We were also told to decide on the dimensions for the pieces of our project. Our group chose to use very specific shades of blue and red on Illustrator and Photoshop (Blue: 0015e1, Red: ad0000) that were bright or intense in nature. As for the dimensions of our pieces, over the weeks we eventually decided on scaling our pieces to 6 x 9 size (although I printed out my individual pieces above in 8.5 x 11 glossy paper). As every artist movement needs an artist statement, I fulfilled my group’s role in writing our art movement’s artist statement, which I will be posting below as a pdf. We as a group ended up using only the first paragraph of the statement, but the full one will give you a better idea of what we Anti-Psychorationalists were going for with our art:

Anti-Psychorationalism Full Artist Statement

Right before the day my group was supposed to present our artist catalog and our individual pieces for our showcase, I quickly wrote my own personal artist statement (which I copied below from the original Google Docs document it came from) describing the purpose, themes, and elements of my art that allowed it to align with the values of the Anti-Psychorationalists. Due to my interest in psychology, I am thinking of minoring or majoring in psychology starting next semester, and studying Jungian theory, since my pieces for this project were themselves inspired by illustrations drawn by Carl Jung in his Red Book. 

My Personal Artist Statement:

Taking inspiration from the works of Carl Jung, specifically the gorgeous illustrations in his Red Book, my diptych done digitally on Adobe Illustrator seeks to express two both personal and universal concepts: our collective psychological need for freedom through our rebellious spirit, and the gradual degeneracy or corruption of humanity’s collective heart by the external oppressive forces of society, as well as the subtler more persuasive internal demons that harbor the depths of our subconscious.

In “Rebellion Against the Beast”, humanity’s desire for freedom (and my own personal struggles for liberation from a traditionally conservative, repressed environment) is expressed archetypically by the rise and descent of a phoenix like creature surrounded by a mandala–a Buddhist and Hindu symbol representing the universe as well as a person’s search for psychological self-unity and meaning. The phoenix is whole and united while the archetypical “beast” at the bottom of the piece is outside the mandala and thus representative of chaos, disorder, disunity, and apathetic misery— the state of society as it stands today within and without us. Both creatures are about to do battle, with the phoenix attempting to free the peoples of the world still trapped within the maw of chaos, the belly of the “beast” which evokes a subversion of the Biblical narrative of Jonah and the whale.

In “The Devouring of the Heart-Tree”, our collective oppression by our own materialistic desires and increasingly selfish ways of thinking is made manifest through our own collective cannibalization of the heart. Taking inspiration primarily from the Nordic mythological-archetypal “world-tree” Yggdrasil and the legends surrounding it, the human heart is re-envisioned as a tree, whose aortic, arterial, and ventricular “roots” are being swallowed and devoured by demonic and evil entities from all sides, alluding to the image of the serpentine Nidhogg mentioned in the Norse Prose Edda. The motif of the archetypical sun cross symbol replaces the previous piece’s mandala, the former icon representing Earth in modern astronomy as well as the cycle of birth, life, and death. Each of the arms of the sun cross is obscured by both branching red spirits seeking entrance into the heart, and black serpentine creatures that fill the negative space with red eyes lunging out from the four diagonal corners of the piece. The destruction of the heart informs the destruction of the world around us.

On each corner of the piece outside the sun cross, four blue benevolent spirits trying to flee from the scene of chaos are shackled and chained by malevolent red spirits attempting to annihilate the blue sun cross. Accompanying the armies of blue benevolent warriors are butterfly-like creatures that represent the human psyche or the soul. All of the blue entities are crying out of sadness. By contrast, the red malevolent warriors are accompanied by spiky draconian almost wyvern like creatures that serve as distortions and aberrant versions of their original blue counterparts. All the red entities are filled with anger and hatred. Under this context, “The Devouring of the Heart-Tree” depicts peoples’ gradual  collective self-destruction by their own hatred and anger at the world and at themselves. Beyond the Nordic symbolism and the sun cross motif, the meaning of the galactic spiral is extremely significant in regards to this piece. Scattered within the sun cross and around the tree-like red spirits are spiraling apple-like fruits hanging from their boughs, which represent the Biblical fruit of temptation that first brought humanity into a spiral of despair and disaster. The blue spiral in the lower half of the heart at the center of the cross is actually a spiral galaxy, representing the vast cosmic expanse present within the human heart, which is directly being threatened from the outside. The black spirals present on the foreheads and bodies of the red entities represent spirals of corruption and anger, while the clear transparent spirals present on the wings of the blue butterflies represent spirals of enlightenment and wisdom.

Both “Rebellion Against the Beast” and “The Devouring of the Heart-Tree” emphasize as a common motif the duality between freedom and oppressive constraint, order vs. chaos, and good vs. evil. Both art pieces also contain both Biblical allusions as well as Buddhist and Hindu elements, uniting the religious differences between the doctrines of the West and the East (yet another dual concept). With both pieces, I seek to express a personal, mystical, quasi-religious, artistic, and almost mythopoeic view of the human psyche and the human heart as opposed to one that is rigorously scientific according to the principles of Anti-Psychorationalism.

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