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In the Hands of Alchemy

In 1979, I destroyed all the art I had created, gave everything I owned away, and began a new life. I sensed an inner and outer world in perfect order. I sensed that I could become a willing participant in that order, and that it allowed for my individual expression and unique contribution. I know now that my participation was conditional on how well I learned to listen and to see the inherent patterns within the natural order I sensed. The return of a physical creative expression came later, after I learned what was required by the inner life. The new life that I gave myself to required unconditional trust and noninterference. I asked for nothing from any human being. I needed to know if there was a God and I risked my life to find that out. I know now that we risk far more when we attempt to create a life devoid of a personal relationship with our God.

Wennstrom in his Studio

I ate when I had food and I fasted when I did not. I accepted whatever came into my life. It was that simple. I was familiar with fasting; I had done it once a week since I was twenty years old. Now, eating became a miracle. At first, I had something of a small following as an artist, and people were still interested in what I did, so they gave to me. Soon it became apparent that I was not going back into art, and many of these people faded from my life. I had a close circle of friends of the spirit who understood what I had given myself to, to some extent. They had their doubts, and so did I. My life was just too much for our modern western mind to consider. Eventually I saw the ways in which the miracle carried my life. I could never have continued this strange and lonely journey if I had not seen that. My joy and my ability to help others were gifts of that miracle and were my only tools for disarming the fears that were inevitably projected onto me. Fielding the fears of others was probably the most difficult task of the new life. I had to confront the fears within myself first. I had to give to others unconditionally and expect nothing in return. This is a society where everything is not enough.

On the surface, I looked like what most of us put all of our energies into avoiding. I became nothing. I had chosen to make an intuitive and conscious leap into the void so I did not have the luxury of asking for sympathy when the journey became frightening or impossible. Even the least intelligent among us would have suggested that I get a job and feed myself. I knew that I did not have that choice. I knew that once I jumped into the vast and empty ocean I saw before me, there was no measure in between that could save me. I would swim or drown. In water up to my neck, no choices and no turning back would be possible. I knew this was real.

Sacred Marriage


“One of the magnificent things about Jerry is his profound and courageous innocence. He has created a friendship with a part of himself which is in love with the world, and his art displays that. Jerry is one of the few people I know who, in a very quiet way, has actually claimed his happiness in existence.” –  David Whyte, author, The Heart Aroused and Crossing the Unknown Sea:

In the cyclical rhythm of life, we eventually come up against a profound moment in which we must decide how much faith and courage we are willing to give ourselves to. Most often, in deciding this, we also establish how much courage we will live with for the rest of our lives. This crucial point usually comes to us at around the age of 30. The opportunities at that time are like no other.

Only the rare human being can leap into a deeper faith beyond that opportune stage in their life. Usually, if we have not done it under the best of circumstances, when the physical and spiritual winds are at our back, then we rarely find courage or reason enough to do it later in life. However, grace has no limits, and this is not written in stone. Only we know what we do with that moment once it arrives in our life, or where we may have set it to rest. Have we chosen the safe life, its foundation rooted in fear? Or have we chosen the Mystery, in which all may be lost or gained? We have only our inner knowing, and as an external indicator, the miracle, which informs us of the power of our choice. No one can judge, yet everyone intuits our choice by the ways in which it resembles their own.

In the Hands of Alchemy | Part 1 of 3

In the Hands of Alchemy: Art & Life of Jerry Wennstrom is directed by Phil Lucas (“Native Americans”) and Mark Sadan (Sesame Street). It includes Depung-Loseling Tibetan Monks blessing a tower that Jerry built.

In the Hands of Alchemy is a delightful film, an alchemical mixture in itself of inspiration, spirituality, art and the story of a remarkable human being.” – David Spangler

Heron Interactive Art Piece

About Jerry Wennstrom

Jerry Wennstrom has presented at the Birmingham Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, the EMP (Experience Music Project), Glen Arbor Art Association, the Old Firehouse Art Center, Other Side Arts, Pacifica Graduate Institute, UCS-NAROPA (Wisdom University), the Vancouver Public Library, Western New Mexico University, California Institute of the Arts and NYU. He has also done over 50 radio, TV and magazine interviews and art features.

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