Occasionally I get asked why I include military spaceship designs as part of my speculative spaceship design work since I am a member of the Baha’i Faith, a religion that promotes world peace and appreciation of human diversity. I will begin to answer such heartfelt queries by noting that none of my spaceship designs are meant as literal prognostications of future hardware in space. Rather, they are meant to serve as personal spiritual symbols for parts of my own identity. As a 20th and 21st century individual, I have a number of contrasting and at times conflicting aspects to my personality and spirit. My use of military space vessels represent the spiritual warrior side of my personality and my exploratory spaceships represent the spiritual investigator side of my personality.
In most of my images, I am trying to convey some sense of awe, whether it be hope for the future represented by a futuristic building devoted to positive purposes, or wonder at the vastness of space via the image of an exploratory vessel on a deep space mission, or trembling at the power of divinity only minutely intimated by a giant warship.
When I use military hardware in my artwork, it is similar to how many religions, including the Baha’i Faith, employ military terminology to represent spiritual struggle. Thus, I am expressing my own spiritual struggle and striving. I am also expressing my personal sense of outrage at a world so far away from what I believe to be God’s vision for us. My space warships are personal icons for the protection of God that I hope hangs over me. I have been taken advantage of and knocked down many times in my life by people who had power over me. I deal with my strong emotions over such situations by creating artwork of strong ships defending what is right and good in our universe.
My artwork has never meant to symbolize American or Western military or political power over others. It is possible that there is some subconscious prejudice in my artwork, but it is never put there intentionally. Even though I consider myself a very practical person, allegory and symbols are very important to me while literal interpretations of things often seem limiting in my view. This is one reason why the Baha’i Faith holds such appeal to me since it suggests that the true meaning in the Scriptures of the Great World religions go beyond literal readings. It is my intent that my ship designs be seen more as personal allegories and symbols rather than literal representations of supposed future objects.
Thus, I stand behind my use of military symbols. They represent some harsh truths about who I really am as a person. I believe that such personal honesty with facing who and what I really am not only aids my own spiritual growth, but may serve as an example to others. I observe many religious and secular folks expressing lofty ideals and trying to act as if they truly were fully integrated beings. Yet often, they seem unaware of the true conditions of their own precious souls or the real contradictions between what they claim to believe and how they really behave. One of the purposes my art serves for me is to give me a safety valve where I can express some of my harsher emotions in a way that hopefully causes minimal harm and perhaps even inspires on occasion.
A closer look at the actual number of military based designs in my work shows that they are just one part, not the dominant portion, of my spaceship work. Most of the designs I show on this website are actually non-combant vessels serving exploratory, commercial, industrial, and medical functions. Focusing primarily on my military art misses the point of my work as a whole. To me, just because a vessel is armed does not make it military. I see most of my armed craft more as policing craft, keeping the peace rather than making war. The diversity of functions of my spacecraft symbolizes for me the diversity of people with differing personalities, skills, and ways of seeing the world.
I think that there will always be need for some sort of international police force, hopefully along the lines of an improved United Nations organization. Obviously, the world today is far from that idealistic type of peacekeeping force. But I am optimistic that we are taking slow strides in that direction. We have come far over the last century in how the use of military force is perceived by the masses of humanity. I can’t but help think that another century will bring further progress away from the “might makes right” mentality that Baha’u’llah, Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, spoke against in the late 19th century.
I hope my artwork touches those who take the time to study it. I consciously work to increase the amount of positive and visionary images in the corpus of my artwork and appreciate the comments I receive expressing strong concern about the subject matter of my work. I want any upbeat work I create to be real and sincere, expressing my actual spiritual growth as person and a artist, rather than conforming to anyone else’s expectations about what my work “should” be about. As an artist, I feel strongly compelled to follow where my heart leads me and to express those images that resonate most with my inner state. It is my prayer that I am in part guided in my art by the Divine. I have had so many wonderful dreams that I feel utterly unable to put into visual form.
Spaceships have been my personal spiritual symbols all my life. I never remember choosing to be attracted to spaceships, it is something that I always felt from a very young age. As I get older, I have increased the proportion of exploratory and other “peaceful” ship designs in my work and decreased the number of military focused vessels. It will be a momentous day indeed for me when I grow to the point where I no longer feel the need to depict such craft as part of my work.
I hope this explanation provides some understanding about my use of militaristic symbols in my spaceship art, how important my art is to me, and how my art expresses my strong feelings about myself and the world around me.