Cause & Effects of the Conditioned Mind
8/09, 17 X 22"
Oil on masonite

(Click on image for larger view.)

This painting is about the conditioned mind. Here's the official definition of Conditioning from A process of changing behavior by rewarding or punishing a subject each time an action is performed until the subject associates the action with pleasure or distress.

The central character in this work is the boy on the bottom, who represents innocence. He is at that susceptible age in which he can easily be influenced by the outside world and be led down dark paths. He is being overwhelmed by all of the things around him. To name a few, he is in the vicinity of a man (to his right) taking drugs and filling his lifes' voids with sublimation, and to the right of that is a woman who represents sexual promiscuity. His parents are scolding him for the umpteenth time (upper right of him), and to his left he is being pushed to take drugs from the pharmaceutical companies. The books to his immediate left represent the failing institution of education, and the skewed view of history (if history is only written by the winners, how does one get a fair portrayal?).

Some of these themes are the causes of the conditioned mind: education, peers, family, and the country's current ideologies. Going beyond that, some of the results & effects are illustrated here as well, not only of the individual, but of the society as a whole. Included are (see if you can find them):

-patriotism & the destruction of others for the sake of "freedom"
-religious superiority & non-acceptance
-hate music
-gang violence (racial & ethnic slurs)
-self consciousness
-junk food and addiction to caffeine, chocolate, sugar & aspartame
-fast food consumption and its global consequences
-drug addiction
-corrupt media
-unhealthy addiction to sports & violence
-gas guzzling vehicles that exist simply for the sake of the ego
-political, corporate, & economic greed (George Washington has a double meaning: politicians are stealing away our liberties from our nation's founding fathers; and business men are fighting for the almighty dollar)
-and ultimately, at the very top, the conditioned fear of death

The inevitable outcome of these thoughts and actions leads to the destruction of our environment. Out beyond the caves is a glimpse of our future; The Empire State Building, and its base has been flooded hundreds of feet. With the man-made increase in global warming, all of the great cities along the coast will be flooded to the point when they are uninhabitable. These kinds of events will mark a new era in humanity.

The lessons of this tale, and the questions I invite the viewer to ponder are the following: Are all of your beliefs and actions throughout the day destructive or constructive? Are your thoughts based on reactive moments from your past, or are they from the neutral, authentic self in the present moment? How much of society's flaws are caused by irrational conditioned thoughts?

This painting took nearly 2 years to complete, and was a pleasure to work on. It was displayed at the ASA Artist's Ball in 2010, and in the High School of Art Design Alumni Art Show in 2012 at the Kenny Gallery.

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Arthur Erberber. Unauthorized
reproduction prohibited.
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