1. Breathe in through your base chakra to your solar (666) chakra.
2. Hold your breath as long as you can, comfortably, and focus on your 6th chakra/pineal gland. You should feel a bit of pressure on the 6th chakra.
3. Exhale, and repeat for as many rounds as is comfortable.
It's certainly not your average artist statement. But supernaturally inclined artist Joseph McVetty has always tended towards an outsider's point of view. "I believe my interest in the occult was born out of a curiosity in the narratives of cultural outsiders," McVetty explained to The Huffington Post. "I have always had a mysterious attraction to the worlds these groups built around secrets, rules and symbols as a way to exist outside of the mainstream."
McVetty creates delicate paintings on paper using latex paint, gauche and pencil, depicting seances, meditations and other unearthly rituals. Rendered with fine lines and colors so muted they threaten to fade from view, McVetty's subjects play with crystals, masks, energy fields and skulls in various permutations -- often donning only their underwear. The Portland, Oregon-based artist conjures an image of communal magic in the contemporary age, and like so many things in Portland, that magic is very much DIY.
The artist's interest in communal rituals stems from the mundane yet just as logically strange routines manifested throughout daily life. "The uniforms, rituals, nicknames and guidelines -- where does that urge come from?" McVetty asks. "And why are people so willing to join up? Some people join mainstream cults like the military and the police force that are certainly cruel in the end, I find those groups repellent. Other individuals find a group of yo-yo’s in matching sweats that are waiting for a comet to come scoop them up and I think, yeah, these are my people."
McVetty's canvases appear somewhere between the bewitched drawings of "witch woman" Cameron and the balaclava-clad strangers of Carrie Yury. Although there's a sense of darkness to the unknown rites taking place on the page, the ominous aftertaste is subdued by the incredible lightness of the artworks themselves.
"The reason I work with such a muted palette has to do with emotional tone," McVetty explained. "These are calm drawings. My intention is to be inviting, to create a space for the viewer to invest some time without being overwhelmed by the noise of color. The focus is always on the direct subject matter, you won’t see a background in this work. The focus of this work is the figure and interactions happening between these figures. For me the material world outside of their bodies is unimportant in the context of these drawings."
Although McVetty does see some parallels between art making and a more spiritual ritual, he views the two embodied experiences as entirely different. "The relationship between art and the supernatural for me stems from the notion of conjuring or making the unseen seen or the unheard heard. But that would be as far as it goes for me. I have found that art and art making is very far from supernatural in fact it is very workman-like. Any maker will tell you, you have to put in the work; bang away at those keys and write, pick up that guitar and practice. It’s long, boring, tedious work that requires focus, sacrifice and discipline, nothing supernatural there."
Although McVetty's whispered images primarily depict scenarios you'd find in a dream, a Stanley Kubrick film or a Marina Abramovic performance, he argues the spirit of such communal rites can extend to more everyday practices. "My work right now depicts communities working together in order to conjure up the supernatural. Because of my attraction to the occult tradition and folklore, I began use the existing imagery in order to invoke a sense of magic, and cosmic collaboration. The occurrences happening in my work are much more connected to the outside world than my own personal experience. A perfect example is the recent wave of civil resistance movements from Ferguson to Hong Kong. These sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches and rallies are exactly the kind of energy gathering rituals that I hope to invoke with my work."
"As far as my spiritual beliefs go," McVetty concluded, "I believe in Love, no god, but maybe Satan. My rituals at this point are purely domestic magic; hugs, kisses, making coffee, getting everyone to school, changing diapers, cleaning the house and making love." Breathe deep into your chakras and enjoy a sample of his work below.