Issues Magazine Review
of The Inspired Heart: An Artist's Journey of Transformation (and the video In the Hands of Alchemy)
It is probably tempting for many to resort to psychology or judgment on reading Jerry Wennstrom's story in the press release: he realized he was becoming too attached to his identity as an artist, destroyed his works of art and gave away all he owned. For fifteen years he lived on practically nothing. His is an extraordinary journey, and on reading the book and viewing the video, you may find you are able to scrap the psychology and heartily crush your judgmental inclinations.
Jerry is not only an artist, he is a storyteller, and is as skilled with words as he is with paint and the material of his sculptures. His explanation for the decision to destroy his work is simple, profound, and strangely acceptable. If you were still to feel the urge to lament the destruction then remind yourself that those paintings were his to destroy as much as to create, as much a part of the artist as his own body and spirit. They were deeply beautiful, sometimes haunting, always essentially personal. Thanks to video and photographs, are they any more lost to us than the Old Masters jealously guarded in private collections or obscure museums? Jerry quotes Albert Einstein, "Matter never dies, it just changes form." For him, his destroyed art had become an empowering life force.
Jerry's story is one of faith and courage; he believes that we each arrive at a time in our lives when we choose how much faith and courage we are willing to give ourselves to.....do we choose the safe life or do we choose the Mystery? The book leads up to Jerry's leap of faith and continues full circle to his returning to the world and to art. It is a spiritual journey, a series of stories told effortlessly in which everything matters. His topics are various. Referring to sex, he talks about "carefully and reverently exploring the territory.....with innocent openness and trust in an attentive stage of diffuse awareness.....The only alternatives to this exploration are reckless, destructive behavior or adherence to religious and moral rules that promise safe, unlived lives." A choice which we may apply to aspects of our lives other than sex and art, both of which are pieces of the puzzle rather than the puzzle itself.
Many people will be greatly inspired by Jerry Wennstrom, and that inspiration may not lead to great leaps, but small steps of courage, faith and trust towards a truer self in a truer world.