JACOB ROLFE is a Nova Scotia-based artist known for his illustrative prints depicting some of life’s more important issues including: literacy, the environment, organic farming, dreams… and cats. A new series presented for this exhibition at General Fine Craft explores the subjects of meditation and trans-personal consciousness, topics which intrigued him while travelling in New Zealand.
Jacob uses a multiple silkscreen technique to print colourful images on archival papers. His work is distinctive in its use of cartoon-style anthropomorphism, complex patterned backgrounds of inter-twining plants and organisms, poignant slogans and dream-like landscapes. Full of contrast and irony, they also have a charm and familiarity that can quickly draw the viewer into the world of the artist’s imagination.
Raised in Ottawa, Jacob is an actor as well as a screen-printer. He studied printmaking at The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (Halifax), politics at Trent University (Peterborough), and now lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia.
He spends his days between the east coast and Ontario, travelling to distant lands with a backpack when he can. His experiences and observations of the world are the inspiration for his work.This winter he will be studying meditation at Kopan Monastery in Nepal.
The Eye of Consciousness
“This collection of screen-prints is inspired by my experience studying meditation over the last half decade or so.
I used to think all the time. Indeed, I had always equated consciousness with thinking, assuming they were one and the same ie. to be conscious is to think.
While travelling in New Zealand in 2010, another traveler recommended a book called A Brief History of Everything by philosopher Ken Wilber. It literally blew my mind.
In it Wilber points out that the thinking mind (the stream of thoughts that is constantly flowing through our heads and which we tend to totally identify with) occurs within a wider field of awareness. Through meditation, one can break this total identification with the thinking mind. As one meditates (say, by focusing on the sensation of breathing) and ignores the mind, the mind eventually quiets down and becomes very still. By becoming aware of awareness (or conscious of consciousness) in this way, and resting in that observing awareness, thoughts are experienced as objects in awareness. These come and go, without one’s awareness becoming lost in them.
In the words of Wilber, “In front of you clouds parade by, your thoughts parade by, bodily sensations parade by, and you are none of them.”
In this series of prints, I have tried to capture the idea (or an impression of this open expanse of awareness) in part to help inspire and energize my own meditation practice, but also to convey the concept of consciousness without thought to others, and perhaps inspire them to investigate the nature of their own awareness. Enjoy the show!”