The Triumph of Life
Artwork & Writing by Ricky Schaede
This book was printed as an exhibition catalogue to accompany my recent solo exhibition in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada. Because I believe in the message of this work, I am making this writing available for free to everyone right here on my website. Please enjoy and share with your friends and family. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and view my work. Prints of many of these pieces are available at my online store. To inquire about purchasing an original, please use the contact page.
We are the legacy of a single cell.
Eons of time have sculpted exquisite forms from the raw clay of life, from the single cell to the complex organisms of today. It has been a dance of life and death, of evolution and experimentation, a dance which is responsible for every single living thing on Earth, including you and I.
Despite whatever struggles you may be faced with, or however grim the world may seem, you can always reflect on this. We all share this sacred history, and to live in the kingdom of life is our birthright. You are that same cell that fought its way from form to form, finally to become the thinking, breathing human.
You are a treasure as special as the first cell.
In the ages before we built cities and conquered nature, different laws ruled the kingdom of life.
Wilderness sprawled across the Earth, and species were free to live with only the threat of their natural predators and the environment. Biodiversity flourished. The Earth was a blue pearl of life in a vacuous cosmos.
Yet there was also a time before this. A time before plants and mammals, before reptiles and birds. The Earth was lifeless, and from this our earliest ancestors had to carve the beginnings of the kingdom of life. Remember our heritage, and that we are the legacy of a single cell. How immensely determined must the force of life be to have created all of this?
That very determination is inside of you. At this very moment.
You are human. You are the cosmos made aware of itself. You can create art and music, build temples and cities, and investigate the workings of reality with science. You have the capacity for love, compassion, and empathy. You are resilient, and adaptive. There are so many traits which make you amazing and unique, but perhaps the most impressive thing is that you exist at all.
Did we evolve here naturally, or were we created by a higher intelligence? Perhaps the earth was pollinated by a life bearing comet. Or perhaps the truth is even stranger, and some form of extraterrestrial life had a hand in the creation of mankind. I try to remain skeptical and, rather than question how we got here, question why we are here.
Throughout history, people have accomplished great things. Their determination to succeed, and passion for their goal, enabled them to achieve these feats. They know why they are (or were) here, took action, and left their mark on the world in one way or another.
Great empires have risen and fallen. A spectrum of artistic expression has been explored. The globe has been mapped and tens of thousands of species catalogued. Mankind truly has achieved greatness, but at what cost? What have we overlooked in our fevered ambition?
In this age of science and technology, we have come to a dire realization. There is only one Earth that we know of, one planet which holds the unique signature of life that supports our species. We have been playing the circle game without even knowing it, striving for progress and profit without considering the ramifications.
Greenhouse gases are warming the Earth at an alarming rate, so much so that within my lifetime, I have personally seen the effects in my local climate. Pollution is rendering our water undrinkable, the soil infertile. Nuclear waste has been spread through our atmosphere by war faring nations, and by the malfeasance of profit driven energy companies. The oceans have been fished dry, coral reefs are bleaching, and all great wild species are diminished and under the constant threat of human kind. I fear that I may witness the extinction of the elephants, of the great cats, of the bees who pollinate our flowers. We are playing a dangerous game.
As inhabitants of the Earth at this crucial time, we must be prepared for the uncomfortable ways the Earth will change as a result of our actions. The dying of the old will be followed the evolution of the new, as strange new species may be born from the toxic ecosystem. We as humans will need to devise new medicines and technologies to cope with an increasingly hostile environment, new diseases, and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Extreme temperatures and ecosystems will develop, forcing us to limit our time outdoors, changing the very face of our planet.
This is the price we will pay. And if we don’t change, it may come sooner than any of us expect.
This may leave us feeling hopeless about the future of humanity, but remember that first cell. We are life, and we will find a way. We must.
But what can we do now? How can you and I make an impact?
We hold so tightly onto our possessions and accomplishments. The house, the car, the heating and air conditioning, the lights we use to see at night, yet each of these objects are contributing to the warming of our planet. It may seem impossible to let go of them, but if we look at our own lives and determine what isn’t absolutely necessary, we can begin to carve away the elements which have a negative impact on the environment.
Doing this can be as easy as using less light at night, buying a reusable coffee mug and water bottle, avoiding plastics and processed foods. If you need to go somewhere in walking distance, try walking or biking instead of driving. See if you can arrange a car pool with your co-workers.
Respect the land. Don’t litter, and don’t allow waste to build up on your property. Buy food and other products locally, from environmentally responsible farmers and companies. Respect the watershed by being mindful of what you put in the sink or toilet, and be sure to dispose of hazardous waste properly.
By letting go of non necessities, being mindful in our day to day lives, and imparting these values on our children and friends, we not only reduce our negative impact on the earth, but make a positive one. We become liberated from the shackles which bind us to a cycle of environmental destruction. Each seed we plant has the potential to grow, and as we plant seeds which honour life, our garden will flourish.
It is my belief that, as humans, we have a vital purpose here on Earth. We are here to nurture and protect the Earth, to serve as her collective mind and act as guardians from whatever threats lurk in the vacuum of space. We must unite as one species, one life, and it all begins with you and what you contribute to our garden. Plant the right seeds, and they will feed humanity for generations to come. If you need motivation, remember the incredible beauty we all come from. There is no room for despair in the heart which reveres the immaculate beauty of life on Earth, only love.
Love for yourself is the first key to letting go of the old, and doing that is as simple as realizing that you are the immaculate beauty of life on Earth. That you are a treasure as special as the first cell.
When we as individuals have planted enough seeds, when enough people have been liberated from the cycle of environmental destruction, and technologies are devised to heal and protect the earth, this is The Triumph of Life.
Mankind living in harmony with nature, one another, and most importantly, oneself. When wildlife is allowed to reclaim the land, and we develop new ways to live which accommodate the health and freedom of ecosystems. When the wing of humanity stretches beyond the earth, as we seed new planets with our unique signature of life and interact with the pantheon of other life forms in the Universe. This is our potential future . . . the future I would like to help create. Will you join me?
If not for a childhood saturated in my imagination, I would not be the artist or person I am today, and this work would not exist. I am eternally grateful for my parents, my brother, and the rest of my family, who made the space for me to be myself in this incredible world, and to my Dad for introducing me to the joy of creating art.
Thank you to my painting teacher Philip Rubinov Jacobson, for opening the flood gate of technique and allowing my imagination to be unleashed, and to all other teachers and colleagues along the way, who inspire and teach me in unique ways. Thank you to my friend and mentor Emilia Perri, for always reminding me to let it flow, for selling me my first set of art supplies in high school, and believing in me as an artist and kids art instructor. Thank you to my students, collectors, and fans for your energy and spirit, and to my close friends who are always there for me. A special thank you to Andrew McArthur for his help crystallizing the environmental message of this book, to Dave Joseph and Heather Scott for helping me with the writing, and to Sara May for her amazing videography, photography, and for being such an on the ball collaborator. I would also like to thank Shawn Koroscil, Marilyn Field, Wayne Baguley, and Jacklyn Hancock for coming together and creating Club Art Orangeville, the spark which ignited my pursuit of a career in art.
I also thank the creative spirit, and the imagination, for allowing me to voyage to beautiful and terrifying places and bring back images to share with others. Thanks to the cosmos for existing, to the Sun for holding our solar system together, and to the Earth, for being our beautiful, living home.
And thanks especially to you, for finding and opening this book.
Ways to Reduce your Impact on the Environment
– Shop locally for produce and food products. Avoid packaging and use reusable bags.
– Turn off the lights when they are not in use. This goes for any device which uses energy.
– Take shorter showers.
– Switch your light bulbs to be energy efficient.
– Be sensitive to the indigenous wildlife in your yard. Rather than think of them as weeds, create space for them to be.
– Plant more native species.
– Compost and recycle.
– Buy a reusable coffee cup.
– Buy a reusable water bottle.
– Walk or bike to work if you can, or arrange a carpool.
– Avoid unnecessary travel or transportation.
– Avoid unnecessary spending on products of any kind.
– Move your money from the big bank to a credit union that doesn’t invest in big oil or other environmentally malicious corporations.
– Eat less meat.
– Make more food yourself, in order to avoid take out plastic and food waste.
– Try to impart environmental values at home and in the workplace.
– Source environmentally friendly clothing, buy second hand.
– Don’t litter, or allow waste to build up in your yard or house.
– Be sensitive to hazardous waste and make sure to dispose of responsibly.
– Advocate for the environment in local and provincial government. Be an active citizen, review your environmental rights, and keep local businesses in check if you notice them abusing the environment.
The Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights
In Ontario we are very lucky to have an Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR). The bill gives Ontario residents the right to know about and comment on decisions that may effect the environment, and the right to ask for policy reviews, and investigations of wrongdoing to our natural environment. In addition to the EBR, there is an Environmental Registry which contains public notices about environmental matters being proposed by all government ministries covered by the EBR. Most importantly, it allows you to give input and participate on important decisions that effect your local environment. To learn more about the EBR, and to create an account on the Environmental Registry, visit www.ebrs.on.gov.ca
Conservation Areas in Ontario
There are more than 290 conservation areas in Ontario, managed by 36 Conservation Authorities. Your local conservation area and authority rely on volunteers to protect and conserve the local environment. You can visit www.conservationontario.ca and find a directory of Ontario Conservation Authorities. Find your local authority and visit their website to learn about volunteer opportunities.
About Ricky Schaede
Born in Brampton, Ontario, on September 24th 1993, Ricky has lived through creative expression since he could walk and talk. With an artist for a father, he was introduced to painting at an early age and explored art during the early years of his childhood. In high school he bought paints and canvases of his own and began to paint again, at a deeper, more intimate level than before. A trip to Guatemala for the month of December 2012, where he participated in 7 Sacred Fire Ceremonies at the Mayan ruins throughout the country, changed him as a person and lit a fire within. Upon returning home, he erupted with paintings and, in the years since, has produced over 100 works of art with no signs of slowing down.
Since discovering his passion for painting, Ricky has won multiple awards and sold pieces to collectors in Ontario and Quebec. He is also co-founder of Club Art (www.ClubArtOrangeville.com), a charity youth arts project whose mandate is to create a safe, inspiring space for youth to experience and exhibit art of all forms. Through his efforts with Club Art, he positively impacts his community and uses art as a tool for healing and transformation, both by providing artistic instruction and support, and by acting as a role model for local youth. Additionally, Ricky takes pride in teaching kids art classes at Maggiolly Art Supplies in Orangeville, since 2014.
In 2015 and 2016, Ricky traveled to Austria to study the Mische Technique with Philip Rubinov Jacobson and Mantra Cora, an early renaissance technique considered to be a sacred treasure, infusing paintings with ‘an inner light’. Since, he has been creating this new body of work for the Triumph of Life, and has joined the Canadian Society for Art of the Imagination, participating in their exhibit in Montreal in October 2015, and in Manhattan, NY, at ONE Art Space, in April 2017.
Ricky’s plans for the future are to never stop making art and striving to be the best that he can be. He will always be in the pursuit of the creation of meaningful images to share with society, and to make a positive impact on his community by sharing the joy of art. To see more work, learn more, or join Ricky’s mailing list for news and updates, visit his website, www.RickySchaede.com.