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The Art Of Balance by Casey Soma Published by Thortify

Manifesting the imagination

I have always had a powerful imagination, Creativity for me is how I get by. I make stuff up for a living, because art helps me to live. Imagine you’re walking around in the world, on a bus, or a train, going somewhere, or going nowhere in particular. Everything is white, neither good or bad, and then, you’ll hear something, see something, a phrase, an image, a sound, this will jump out at you, as bold as an object doused with bright red paint, a single moment which bursts out from the nondescript everyday and instills it’s self deep inside as the nucleus for the idea which can they be nurtured into something truly beautiful. This is how I describe inspiration. Mad Truth began in a youth center where I learned that my creativity could be honed, and crafted, in the same way we learn a language to better understand and communicate with the world around us. This is where my practice began. I’m inspired by everything because I’m interested in everything. Specifically I like the soul, if something contains within it the essential essence of a person, a place in time, or somehow encapsulates an authentic feeling. I’m interested in the power of art for the real world impact it can have on our lives. The way a song can move you to tears, or a movie can change your life, these are powerful energies that are often maligned for more ‘tangible’ materialistic pursuits. I am inspired by the origins of graffiti art, in the early seventies, the bronx was on fire, the pressure on these young people, living in deprived conditions with little to no hope was immense. They would sneak through barbed wire fences under the cover of darkness into the railroad, where they would use stolen spray paint cans, brown because it looked red under the luminous glow of yellow street lights. They would carve their names in paint onto the sides of train cars, those cars would then set off on their journey, brandished with the names of these young artists - because their name was all they had, it’s all they knew. These names, in bubble letter form, would travel, far beyond New york, out into america and graffiti, hip-hop culture, would go on to become the zeitgeist in music, branding, visual arts and more for over forty years. From such a small and simple idea, the world and culture could be altered, thereby changing the lives of millions of people across the world.

I am a multimedia artist, working in film, music, poetry, visual arts, graphic design, music, sound art, and photography. Often I will try to find new and innovative ways to combine these mediums in a way where they compliment each other, in the same way that my film study taught me that music, combined with image, can form the language of cinema. Poetry combined with visual art can literally give a voice to a piece of artwork as if it is speaking to the audience of its own accord. I take ideas from all these disciplines, to inform and develop my practice. Music then, is the key foundational element, the sound of my guitar, washed out, reverberating endlessly in melodic and sometimes dissonant patterns has served as the backdrop for all of Mad Truth’s work. From this starting point, I can begin to layer the image, creating a sense of depth and kaleidoscopic emotion.

For my visual and video art pieces, I manipulate light through glass, using the glass pieces as a filter through which the light can take on new shapes, colours and dimensions, these rays of light will then be captured on camera and manipulated digitally until it looks like an abstract painting you might see in an art gallery. This piece (MIND) was made in this way, and has become almost iconoclastic in the Mad Truth canon, because of the deep blues, connoting the ocean, a hopeful open blue sky, and the deep peace and tranquility which I crave in my own life, and aim to express for others in my work. This piece inspires contemplation, stillness and reflection.

The key idea of my work is that through creativity and authentic expression, removed from ego or self consciousness, we can access aspects of our psychology and our lives that are inaccessible through normal means. Everything I do is improvisational, I don’t plan really, everything I do is very much in the moment, and a direct expression of that. Meditation, spirituality and mindfulness play an integral role in my life, these pursuits are reflected in my work. I strive for a sense of open clarity, like looking up at a clear cloudless sky. This summer I had the opportunity to speak to a very wise zen master - I always have an ulterior motive and so I was subtly (not so subtly) nudging him from hundreds of miles away over the phone, to bestow upon me some wisdom that would somehow put all the pieces into place and give me some solid ground to walk on. We spoke about creativity, I had heard this Tom Waits quote where he goes ‘Creativity is like fishing’ I.e you wait and you wait and you wait, and then you’ll pull an idea up out of the water, that if you’re lucky will go on to become something really special. The monk told me, creativity is not like fishing, creativity is like a waterfall, you just put your hand out, and inspiration can wash over you, cleansing your mind, body and soul.

My advice to somebody who has creative aspirations is to just start. The first step of a marathon is always the hardest, once you make the first mark on a canvas, or take the first shot of a short film, the spirit (of yourself) will work through you - let your intuition be the guiding force, trust yourself. Don’t worry about family or friends, an audience, the general public, all that can come later, sit with the brush, the shot, the chord sequence. Let the sound or the image speak to you in a language only you can hear. Let it take you by the hand, and enter into a playful, loving relationship with your own expression. There is a myth of the tortured artist, you don’t need to be a Van Gogh or a Kurt Cobain, an Amy Winehouse or a Rothko. Great art does not come from pain, but an honest communication, an empathy with yourself and with the world. Pain. Joy. Elation. Devastation. As long as it’s how you really feel at this moment. It’s hard being human, this planet we live on is crazy and sometimes senseless. But there is always a sense of wonder even in a gray and overcast sky. Tell your truth. For yourself, never compromise who you are.

I’ve had a very hard year, and I am slowly, quite trepidatiously moving from excessive care of others (as an empath this is like my bread and butter) to a place of increasing self care, that can see me grounded in my physical, emotional and spiritual lives. You can’t care for others, show them love, without first showing yourself love first. This is an attitude that I have long neglected, opting instead for endless hard work, and unwavering ambition. I will move out of where I currently live, my new home will be a temple and a sanctuary. Where I can begin to foster these ideas for self care and the betterment of myself and others through creative action. Right now, my spiritual life is the key component to my wellbeing, as I am not particularly healthy and have more stress in my world than I would like. Each day I meditate, I chant, and I count my mala - the mantra which rings so sweetly in my heart, I sing each morning - ‘Sri Ram, Jai Jai Ram. Sri Ram, Jai Jai Ram’ meaning victory to lord Rama. Or - ‘may the good prevail.

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