, (PressExposure) July 10, 2006 -- While in the process of establishing himself on the island of Maui in spiritual counseling and presenting workshops for healers, Russ Reinaâs whole life took a huge bounce.
Russ had built a 37 year career in the healing arts through such diverse avenues as being one of the first paramedics in the country, screenwriting (Healer, the opening night film of the 1994 Santa Barbara International Film Festival), working with a Lakota Medicine family in sacred healing ceremonies, and in performance arts, stand-up comedy and music.
He was printing out digital photographs that he had stored up over a course of about three months. The subject matter was a weekly drumming and fire-dancing circle on a secluded beach on Maui. The light sources for the images were sunset and fire. He would go there to re-charge his personal commitment to being a vehicle through which healing energy moves.
âMy printer and computer screwed up,â Russ says. âWhat came out were images that looked nothing like I thought I had shot, yet, each one affected me deeply.â Instead of throwing the hardware out the window, he chose to see if he could work with what showed up.
He explored the images, first alone and then with others. He was amazed at how no two people seemed to see the same thing in the images. Each person would come to his or her own interpretation of an image in a way that was meaningful to them in the moment. The images have a universal appeal. They are in primal colors and show a world and characters that we recognize, yet, as touched by fire, they appear otherworldly, therefore suggestive of deeper meanings for the individual.
âI realized they act like guideposts with no directions on them until you look. They are living metaphors.â Russ says. His role became clear, though not easy. âI had to figure out a way to offer these images to be used without interposing my own interpretations on them.â
âAn inspired book, for example," Russ says, "is basically one personâs still-small-voice being spoken through a megaphone. When the words are interpreted by the person who received them, or others in subsequent works, they become frozen and lose their personal pertinence to the moment. That makes it easy for individuals to cease their own personal exploration and accept someone elseâs experience over their own. Because these are images, they allow a different kind of intimate interaction.â
The images from http://thestoryofthis.net, as he named the series âpretty much showed up whole,â Russ explains. âI didnât create, design or manipulate them by PhotoShop or any other program. I donât even crop them.â
At the time he shot them, he had no idea how to capitalize on, let alone attain, the effects that appeared in final form. He has since learned to work with the inks and the printer to get the same effects. âThese images, however, are pure,â he says, âthere is very little, if any, of my conscious direction in them.â
Russ spent about nine months re-working his web sites ânot only to accommodate the images, but to re-define my relationship with the healing arts,â he says. âFor a while there,â he says, âI thought I was an artist. But, even at that, I was pushed to think out of the box. The images called on me to get them out there to be used. Of course, I deserve to derive income from them, but first, they needed to get to the people because my work is about healing first.â
In the interim, he had a number of gallery showings of images on canvas (Giclees) on Maui, while connecting with movers and shakers in the local art world. A Most Unusual Rejection Letter articulates both the challenges inherent in bringing forth this work as art and speaks of its value as a new vehicle for personal transformation.
âThe internet,â Russ says, âis the perfect venue for the utilization of these images because I can share my experience in the healing arts through text that provides viewers options for their further exploration. They are in control of what suggestions they take from my text. They can spend as much time with the images as they chooseâ¦even print them out to view for personal use.â
Russ pulled his Giclees from a few galleries on Maui where they were showing, turned his living room into a studio/gallery, and now works with them in counseling. âStill,â he says, âat best-- even in person-- Iâm just a facilitator in their relationship with the viewer.â
âWhen I work with other people with these images,â Russ concludes, âI feel like a giggling idiot because I get such a kick out of seeing how they pull unexpected interpretations out of what they see. And then, Iâm in awe at how they make their own connections. My only request is that they use what they learn about themselves for the good of others.â