“Exploring the Inner Landscape”

Recent Work by Anna-Marie Babington


This show represents a cross section of my recent work investigating the idea of embodiment.  By combining Eastern philosophies pertaining to meditation and notions of the subtle body with classical Western representations of the female form and research in neuroplasticity, I delve into the paradox of fragility and strength intrinsic to our human bodies, as well as the notion of self-healing through bodily awareness and intuition. This sheds light on the larger inquiry, “What does it mean to be embodied?”

Quiet Minds is a series of small works portraying faces in meditation engaging with the idea of neuroplasticity, or the changes that occur within the brain into adulthood.  Recent studies provide evidence that stilling the mind through meditation techniques can alter neural networks within our brains. These faces belong to individuals who have turned their attention inward. “Softening” the muscles of the face, according to typical meditation instruction, leaves the visage with an expression of vulnerability without fear—tranquility, openness, ease, profound peace.  This quality of expression captivates me as a painter since painting effectively works in the opposite direction: starting with the physical paint, the artist attempts to evoke an expression through lines, color, and value.

Subtle Bodies is a series in which I stray from anatomical precision to explore the energetic anatomy of the human body. My original template for the female forms featured hails from classical Roman sculptures. Painting these hard, marble structures in watercolor allows me to soften and become spontaneous in my brushstrokes, taking cues from the flow of the water and following my own intuition of how to gesticulate each form. This method hinders an attachment to any particular outcome, instead aiming for a synergy between the uncontrolled movement of water and my response. This “intuitive” approach corresponds with the notion of subtle body wisdom with a nod to the fact that our bodies are roughly 60% water.

Body Geography is the next permutation of this idea of “water bodies” and combines theoretical notions of “exploring the inner landscape” with the subtle body imagery. These small works are playful but genuine: the paintings themselves are intended as visual puns, but the conceptual scaffolding behind the physical work stems directly from research in subtle body awareness and neuroscience. I wanted to instill levity in my work as a reminder that the relationship with the inner world can be joyful and illuminating (albeit challenging) much in the same way that travel and external exploration is. And it is essential to cultivate this relationship.

“[A]nybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around — you’re traveling in order to be moved.” –Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere

“The true voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

–Marcel Proust

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom