top of page


Oil and mixed media paintings



A caterpillar spins its cocoon around itself, like a camper in a mummy bag, but unlike the camper, it then breaks down into a jelly.  The caterpillar does not somehow change caterpillar legs for butterfly wings, but rather goes through a middle formation stage.   It is more like a lego construction becoming something else only after returning to the pile of unconnected pieces on the floor.  Without microscopes the organism looks first like a caterpillar, then a blob of goo and then a butterfly.  “…new adult organs develop from undifferentiated nests of cells called, imaginal discs, which reconstruct the entire adult…” (Subramoniam, 2003, p. 132).


Through the lens of developmental psychology, Robert Kegan states, “The universally recognized anxiety between nine and twenty-one months, I understand, as that distress which attends every qualitative decentration – which from the point of view of the developing organism amounts to the loss of its very organization” (Kegan, 1982, p. 82).  In the transition between stages of human psychological development there is a disequilibrium, the feeling that what I could rely on in the past is no longer there.  It is the dark of the cocoon, perhaps related to the dark night of the soul written about by St. John of the Cross (Anderson & Reese, 1999). 

I begin my painting in an undifferentiation process, something like the breaking down of the body of the caterpillar into goo.  By using blind contour, drawings of the edges of plants, trees, flowers, brushes, and junk in the studio are turned into organic lines and shapes.   From these “imaginal discs” pregnant with resonances in the world, begins to grow a new composition, a new creature.  These paintings are journeys of self discovery, of exploration of physical, psychological and social life spaces. 

The real work of my painting process happens in the chaotic dark of a canvas full of undifferentiated organic and geometric lines.  It is the dark of the unconscious, of silence, of the unknown, unverbalized experience which is the subject.   In this silence, forms emerge, meanings, and surprises, revelations of things that were under the surface and yet had never been illuminated. 

 ~Joel Klepac -2011


Anderson, K. R., & Reese, R. D. (1999). Spiritual Mentoring: A Guide for Seeking and Giving Spiritual Direction. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press.

Kegan, R. (1982). The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Subramoniam, T. (2003). Developmental Biology. New Delhi, India: Narosa.

bottom of page