Holy Fire magnet by Paul B. Rucker
2"x3.25" magnet with beveled edges
My image portrays an encounter with a psychopomp (“guide of souls”) in a dark plenum bedewed with points of spirit light, a bardo . (In Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the spiritual plane between life and death is called a “bardo”, an “intermediate state.”)
The Otherworld’s spirit guide appears in an unexpected guise: a blue man glowing with rainbow flames. Yet the portal, or outward-viewing mirror, that he holds reveals an ecstatic skull face alive with flowers and luminous leaves in a sky of day. This guide of souls across the rupture of life to death may be a daemonic, godly or angelic being according to inner perception— perhaps the hoop he holds is a halo, held at an angle new and strange.
What if the cessation of being is not “the end”, but only the release of spiritual energy from specific form? Day-in-night, life in death, intersecting, intertwined in both the inner and the outer bardo realms— what appears next? Where will we go? What lies beyond?
Paul B. Rucker has been making art from personal visions of the spirit world from a very early age, seeking in visual language to render metaphors, and ecstasies. Theatre, myth and ritual influence this search.
He paints in acrylic and other water-based media, as well as pen, pencil, and mixed media assemblages, combining various materials with hand-painted bones. Rucker also performs face and body painting on subjects photographed in selected environments; the resulting images are further elaborated with digital painting techniques. In addition, he has created theatrical backdrops, murals, collage, sign painting, mask-making in clay and paper-mache, silk painting and costuming.
His approach foregrounds the ennobled body– usually but not always, that of the human being– as a vehicle for archetypal revelation; the body in an extended connection with sacred Nature. His worldview is that of a modern Pagan: “making art is how I think in ‘Pagan’.”
His work has been exhibited in the Twin Cities, Tuscaloosa, AL, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Chicago; and has been seen online and in print through many venues in the USA, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
Rucker has curated and founded several Pagan-oriented arts events in the Twin Cities area, ranging from the Crossroads Festival in the 1990s to the Third Offering Gallery at the annual Paganicon convention in St. Louis Park. He is a core member of the Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists (MCPA), founded in 2014.