Called a “multimedia mythologist” by writer Mark Blickley, Jeanne Wilkinson mines her history as an abstract painter and draws upon imagery from innumerable sources in a form of digital alchemy, creating complex photographic collages and projected animations that merge fantasy and reality. Some of her work documents the continuing vision quests of the Painted People, a Paleo-Postmodern migratory clan that trek across the face of an earth that reacts to their presence by becoming more alive, more beautiful, and more revelatory of its underlying forces. Cities turn into strange night places where streets become fluid streams, skies morph into oceans and webs of life, buildings harbor and dissolve into fantastic life-forms. Continuously growing in numbers, the clan traverses a realm that reflects premonition, apocalyptic environmental change and natural magic. In their world, time is fluid; it might meander like a slow river and pools in swirling eddies; or twist back on itself in the blink of an eye- like a temporal Mobius strip.
The People have strong ties to an earth that existed long ago, one that lived by its own processes, rhythms and beauties and was not limited by human priorities. People in the modern world think of the Paleolithic era as one where crude savages battled against the brutalities of nature, yet the cave paintings that we have discovered, and keep discovering, tell a very different story. They tell of people who returned to the same places over and over again to connect with the past and dream of the future. They tell of people who understood their kinship with creatures, people who were entranced by the movements and spirits of animals that roamed according to their own needs and rhythms. The lyrical lines on these inner-world rocks tell of people living within the earth’s embrace; sometimes harsh and sometimes kind – a cyclical world marked by seasons and solstices and in accordance with earth’s laws, not humanity’s.
The Paleolithic world is gone forever, obliterated by agriculture, by fences, by the Industrial Revolution, by the apparent “success” of humans in dictating terms to the earth. In our postmodern world we are forced to begin to reassess what these successes will mean down the line. In this regard, the Painted People seem to be harbingers of a future when the earth will reassert itself, a future where we may have to continually survive against the brutalities of nature as it shakes off human distortions and hubris like fleas off a dog.