“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between them, there are doors.” ― William Blake

Art and Liminal Experience

Liminal Space Painting with Purple Acrylic and Collage Elements
Liminal Painting
Painting of Liminal Space using Found Objects, Collage and Acrylic Paints

I watch pigments drip, float, and slide across my canvas. I see many shades of color. I see blues and purples mixing and sloshing. I see white bursting. There are so many possibilities. I know that, in the space outside this space, there is another reality. There, time moves, people are doing, and things are happening.  I hover here instead. Nothing important is happening here at all. Sand is being poured into paint and then scraped onto white linen. Fabric is cut, arranged, and adhered to a 2-D plane. Found objects are thumbed, stroked, and then carefully considered as the next choice. In all of this, I sometimes have a sudden urge to stop and re-enter “reality.” I suddenly feel strange and uncomfortable: as though I have lost touch with real life. 

I feel a surge of strange and unexpected hope......

I battle the urge to leave, and I win. Eventually, I find closure, and I am done creating for the day. I give myself time to leave the world I’ve been floating in, above, and through. Slowly, I cap my paints, wash my brushes, and cross the threshold back to now. Upon re-entry, I look at what I’ve made, and I’m pleased that I lingered for so long in the “In-Between.” Fleetingly, I have captured something I can’t even articulate. In a liminal space, I created on a flat plane, grabbed a piece of a moment in time, and got it to stay. I feel a surge of strange and unexpected hope.

Art, Liminality, and Hope

Thoughts on Creating in Liminal Space

It is disquieting to wait. Sometimes, we want to get to the next thing, but we find ourselves delayed for a minute or two. Other times, we are long-stuck facing an undertaking. Moments might leave us held in place for reasons we don’t understand. Things seem off—something is not quite right while we wait. We might notice and odd quality of light, a strange smell, or still silence when we linger in some sort of passage from one place to the next. Places that come to mind are empty hospital rooms, the home of a deceased person, an airport, stairwell, or elevator: all liminal physical spaces. Empty houses are liminal spaces that I find most unsettling. I can almost feel that life is missing. I’m cold, the space feels lonely, and I want to leave. I want to open windows, let light in, play music, and invite people inside: anything to make the place move from stillness to life. I want to transform it before the space is ready to be transformed.

Drifting in a Liminal Space

There are physical liminial spaces all around us. We also have spiritual and emotional liminal spaces. You can be affected by certain spaces while others may not influence you at all. In my experience, there is some kind of trigger that pulls the individual into the in-between. Certain songs stop me in my tracks and stir my spirit. No matter what I’m doing, I stop everything, close my eyes, and take it in. Five or ten minutes passes, though it seems like an hour, but in a good way. When I transition back to the moment at hand, I am restored. Certain smells wake up my emotions. Lilac brings me to a standstill. I breathe in and out deeply, pausing for a time to take in the scent. What was chaotic all around me is suddenly calm. I am drifting in a liminal space that heals and brings respite.

I don’t know how other people experience liminality. This is not a popular topic, and we all have trouble verbalizing liminal experiences. I do know that some people don’t connect liminal places with positive experience as I often do. The artist in me finds refuge in the echo of an empty space or in the strange and disquieting cessation of time. Painting serves as my portal into these spaces……

Painting serves as my portal into these spaces....

I am suddenly not where I was five minutes ago, and I am not where I’ll be when I put my paintbrushes down. I am lost somewhere, and I do my best to seize and describe this “Somewhere” in my paintings. Even if you believe you lack all talent and skill, it does not matter. You can still seize these moments as I seize them. Find a creative channel that can quiet the disquieting “In-Betweens”: a channel that will offer you clarity in both the fleeting and unyielding moments anchored in time. Creative expression offers you calming, quieting, and soothing in the otherwise unsettling liminal spaces where we all find ourselves in waiting.

Liminality and Encouragement for You

www.LiminalSpaceArt.com is here to encourage you to find a creative channel for better embracing your “In-Betweens.” May you better understand creative expression’s unexpected gifts as you wait inside life’s in-between places and spaces. May you discover how art can be your great companion as you look towards “What’s Next” for you. Trust how liminality and creative expression are your partners. See how they can lead you to a new day that brings the transformation that we all so deeply desire at Liminal Space Art.

Time and Space, 2019