For many of us who have left behind systems of belief, the longing for a faith beyond self persists. For Trueson, the journey from growing up in the Unification Church has left a trail of religious-themed paintings and provocative performances that both pay homage to and refute the traditions of his upbringing. Most recently, his performance ‘Absolute Obedience’ engaged viewers with the idea of examining what we have been fed, and extends permission to ‘enjoy what you like, and leave the rest’.
The lack of belief in something - like religion, does not equate with a denial of usefulness. “Art can be like a prayer”, says Trueson. “What I’ve missed that I had when I was religious are certain spiritual practices that help guide me emotionally to be in a certain state and handle the world…Certain things cause anxiety and can be hard to shake…Sometimes it takes a fantastic or mystical belief to overcome for some people because just taking on the world is too much.”
When asked what practices he is implementing right now, Trueson referenced ‘Disruptive Force’ - another recent performance in which he repeatedly recites a 150-word quote by Martha Graham while being increasingly and violently mettled with by a masked representation of this incarnate energy.
“The disruptive force, the channel, that life force energy, vitality quickening - is spiritual in a way. I’ve been trying to treat it almost like a religion. I am going to pursue whatever that energy is as if it is the source of life or god…The focus is just making art and not worrying about whether it is good, not worrying about whether I like it, and knowing that I’ll never be satisfied, but just riding the wave of energy that pulls me to keep making stuff. That quote has become a manifesto, says Trueson.
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
― Martha Graham
“That's a window," Trueson says, pointing to a frame on his living room wall, filled with colorful synthetic fur and coiled pipe cleaners extending into the room. To exercise the practice of honoring this unseen force with creation, Trueson has been fashioning figurines from materials such as pom-pom balls and pipe cleaners - an ode to the universal child-like creativity that he aims to channel. These pieces fall into what Trueson has deemed the ‘Disruptive Force Universe’ - a continuation of the ideas evoked in his original performance.
Trueson is undoubtedly a talented artist, and the material work of his own hands is just one avenue of impact he has on the art community. Through his Salón events, he has created a platform for everyday artists to showcase some form of creative expression to a group of peers and continuously advocates for others to stay inspired.
“The best art that you're going to be able to make will require a level of excitement and passion for the work...Your best chance at making your best [art] is going to be the stuff you’re inspired by,” says Trueson.
In an age where many of us have a wounded sense of belief, practicing the feeling of believing can be a vital tool. We may have been taught that belief equals truth, rather than understanding that the power of this practice lies in the belief itself. Keep the channel open. Praying regardless of knowing who we are praying to; trusting that what we feel inspired by is what we were meant to do.
“You can be in dark depression about the state of the universe, but it's much more entertaining if you can still be there and ridiculous at the same time,” says Trueson as he sits in his endlessly colorful living room, chooses a Werther's Original from the always replenished bowl, and pops it into his mouth.
For videos of Trueson’s recent performances and to keep up with his work, follow him on Instagram @truesonart and at truesonart.com.