For years, Jesse Michael Newman has created artwork in solitude, immersing himself during extended sabbaticals of a year or longer. His artistic process uses a synthesis of painting, photography and computer-generated imagery to work fluidly on massive digital canvases. Revolutionary for the fine art world, this technique is inadvertently breaking technological barriers in the realm of visual effects from which it emerged.
REBIRTH of GAEA is an epic visual tapestry delicately interweaving reflections on spirituality and the human experience.
Birth and innocence, suffering and empathy, fear and wonder... through the millennia, countless allegorical interpretations of these universal experiences have been illuminated through the world’s religions, wisdom traditions and mythologies. Newman chose the narratives of the ancient Greeks as the visual vehicle from which to base his imagery, synthesizing those ancient narratives with his personal experiences into a carefully-crafted, coherent whole.
Ultimately, Rebirth of Gaea is a visual love letter to his daughter Emma, whose passion for Greek Mythology and the Environment was the spark that ignited this project. What began as a few-week exploration became an all-encompassing, life-altering creative undertaking spanning the better part of a decade.
Gazing into the distant heavens, Gaea delicately wraps her arms around the moon, longing for her husband Oranos, God of the Sky. Demeter sits at the edge of the moon, pondering the cycles of life and death.
The heavens take the form of a chariot of horses, racing across the sky, pulling the Sun.
From death comes life. Despite this innate awareness, witnessing the never-ending cycles of rebirth saddens Gaea, whose tears pour into streams from which animals nourish themselves.
Beyond the dark, misty shore which marks the farthest edge of the cosmos, the walls of the great pit of Tartaros rise up to meet Earth and Sky. The head of Tartaros is a skull of embers, and the veins of his heart can be seen through his ripped-open chest.
The dominant image of Gaea features Newman’s daughter bursting from the ground. Representing all life on Earth, one of her legs is made of plants and the other of animals. When they merge, flowers burst forth with dragonfly and butterfly wings adorning her torso. The diadem she is crowned with was created in honor of Gaea by an artist in Ancient Greece.
Attempting to escape the prophecy that he would be dethroned by his own son, Cronos swallowed each child as it was born. Upon realizing that his wife Rhea had hidden his youngest child, Zeus, Cronos began scouring the Earth.
Gaea bursts out of Chaos, the vacant and infinite space which existed previous to the creation of the world.
The first spark of existence.
As Cronos scours the landscape for his newborn son Zeus, dancing forest nymphs -- called Curetes -- bang their swords and shields together to drown out the infant cries.
Eros, the primordial God of Love, was one of the fundamental causes in the formation of the world, inasmuch as he was the uniting power of love, bringing order and harmony to the conflicting elements of which Chaos consisted. Swift as the whirlwinds of the tempest, here he pauses, entranced by the radiant Gaea.
Gaea, Goddess of Earth, is reclining as a river and falling into a meditative state. As the Eternal Mother floats between thoughts of the parent-child relationship and inherent innocence, these ideas are made manifest by animals who, ultimately, return to worshipping Her. Gaea’s only distraction is a solitary butterfly, flittering without direction.
The birth of the universe, portrayed as a nebulaic embryo and featuring the artist’s daughter. With her eyes closed and fingers strumming an air lyre, she can also be interpreted as embodying Terpsichore, the muse of dance.
the epic visual tapestry delicately interweaving reflections on spirituality and the human experience
MOTHER & CHILD emerged after reflecting on the imminent birth of my son and the beautiful connection he seemed to share with his mother in utero. To illustrate this connection, I wanted him to be floating in the fetal position, reaching out to touch his mother's hand. The clouds in the photo were taken on the day he was born. The "C" of Child mimics the baby in the womb of the ampersand.
This 1995 SELF-PORTRAIT was a reaction to the chaos in my life at the time as I experienced death, divorce and fatherhood in rapid succession. It is one of my first digital explorations.