The role of death in life, 4 by JW Harrington

“Religious faith does indeed serve to assuage concerns about death.  Strong faith in God is associated with emotional well-being and low death anxiety.  Additionally, after a reminder of their mortality, people report being more religious and having a stronger belief in God.” 

-- Sheldon Solomon et al. (2015).  The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life, pp. 87-8

The role of death in life, 3 by JW Harrington

“Once children understand that they, as well as their mothers and fathers, are perpetually vulnerable and ultimately finite, they shift from their parents to their culture as their primary source of psychological equanimity.  Deities and social authorities and institutions now appear to be more stable and enduring than our all-too-mortal and therefore all-too-vulnerable parents, grandparents, and pets.”

-- Sheldon Solomon et al. (2015).  The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life, p. 28

The role of death in life, 2 by JW Harrington

“We humans all manage the problem of knowing we are mortal by calling on two basic psychological resources.  First, we need to sustain faith in our cultural worldview, which imbues our sense of reality with order, meaning, and permanence…. Since we’re constantly on the brink of realizing that our existence is precarious, we cling to our culture’s governmental, educational, and religious institutions and rituals that buttress our view of human life as uniquely significant and eternal.

“The paths to literal and symbolic immortality laid out by our worldviews require us to feel that we are valuable members of our cultures.  Hence, the second vital resource for managing terror is a feeling of personal significance,  commonly known as self-esteem.”

-- Sheldon Solomon et al. (2015).  The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life, p. 9

Painting news by JW Harrington

As I’ve admittedly procrastinated in composing an update on my painting, things to share have piled up.  But I haven’t procrastinated in painting!

My primary current series is titled The Impossibility of Knowing.  The works share an attempt to capture a moment (for those that are representational) or a set of shapes, and to indicate the passing of the moment or the absence of those shapes, usually by an outline of a mirrored image of the subject.  Each is on a muted background, usually graduated from light to dark.  Here’s one example, The Impossibility of Knowing (16).    Each of these is acrylic paint on a 16”x 24” canvas.

This summer, I’m also fascinated by creating an illusion of depth within a composition.  Here’s an example, in which I challenged myself to maintain a distinction in the apparent distance from the viewer to the various features, and to provide enough detail to hold the viewer’s interest.  

I’ve not abandoned my abiding interest in visual abstraction.  Here’s one of my favorite paintings, Reach (40”x 30”).

One major development has been joining the cooperative gallery Collective Visions.  It’s at 331 Pacific Avenue in Bremerton, WA.  What attracted me to the gallery is the quality of the artists, the diversity of the work, and the space being large enough for each member to have an area for display.  We rotate our exhibits at the beginning of each month, so there’s always something new, and always some works by each of us.  For those of you in or near Seattle, it’s two blocks from the ferry terminal.  Bremerton’s worth a visit:  there’s been a lot of redevelopment on the waterfront, and of course, the ferry trip is magnificent.   For those of us in or near Tacoma, it’s only a 25-minute drive beyond the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

I’ve also been accepted into the art-rental program of Ryan James Fine Arts, a commercial gallery in Kirkland, WA.  They currently have four of my pieces, for rental to commercial or individual clients.

This month (August), 13 of my small works are on display at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters at 2201 Sixth Avenue in Tacoma (standing at the east end of the Sixth Avenue collection of shops and restaurants).  These include the entire Faces of Evil series, which didn’t scare away the shop owner, and bring quizzical looks from the café’s patrons.

As always, I invite you to visit my website,, to see what new things I’ve completed!