A few years ago, Zach O’Brien never thought he would be interested in art, much less spending ten hours or more a day bent over a table drawing geometrical shapes and patterns of nature to create intricate works of art. Yet today, he finds himself toiling for hours creating a form of subliminal art known as Sacred Geometry.
O’Brien views his artwork as a spiritual journey to enlightenment. He feels the call, a divine purpose, to return to the natural and the spiritual. His art is a personal journey to better understand the world around us and the universal symbols that shape our reality. He feels inspired to share knowledge and to experience and contribute to the global consciousness through his work. “I want there to be harmony between people in the world. You can feel the discord in everybody these days,” he says.
He sees his work as bridging the gap that divides our culture. “When they see it, people feel what it means, but they can’t describe it,” he says. “They can’t tell you why they have the feeling. They just feel it.” Just like listening to music that elicits emotion. It’s actually a combination of tones that elicits the emotion O’Brien informs. “It’s not just because it sounds good, but it’s really a combination of frequencies that realigns your cellular structure and elicits emotion.” Certain geometrical figures do the same thing. We have a natural attraction to the patterns, symbols, and shapes that fill our everyday life.
Sacred Geometry and Symmetry
Sacred Geometry involves the use of sacred universal patterns used in the design of everything in our reality, most often seen in sacred architecture and sacred art. The basic belief is that geometry and mathematical ratios, harmonics and proportion are also found in music, light, and cosmology.
With its roots in the study of nature and the mathematical principles found in the creation of the universe, sacred geometry, sometimes referred to as the “golden ratio”, ascribes symbolic and sacred meanings to certain geometric shapes and proportions.
The designs used in the construction of religious structures—churches, temples, mosques, religious monuments, altars, and tabernacles—are considered sacred and are foundational to the building of sacred structures. Many forms observed in nature can be related to geometry as well. For example, honeybees construct hexagonal cells to hold their honey. Simple equations can describe the spiral growth patterns of animal horns and mollusk shells. The study of geometry in nature goes back as far as 287BC when a Greek student of Aristotle noted plants with flat leaves have them in a series. Even Leonardo Da Vinci noted the spiral arrangement of leaf patterns.
Symmetry is found in all living things. Animals have mirror symmetry as do plants and some flowers. The snowflake is a good example of symmetry found in non-living things, which is the same symmetry as a regular hexagon. Even a splash of water has radial symmetry.
Both sacred geometry and symmetry are commonly found in architecture, both new and old. The architectural elements we use today come from early renaissance architecture found in the construction of the gothic cathedrals, churches, altars, and buildings—many designs replicated from Roman architecture. It is even found in the artwork of the renaissance.
Many of the sacred geometry principles of the human body and of ancient architecture were compiled into the Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. The latter drawing was itself based on the much older writings of the Roman architect Vitruvius. Many artists and architects have fashioned their works around this proportion. For example, the Parthenon in Athens and Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Mona Lisa are commonly cited examples of the ratio.
The Egyptians are thought to have used it to guide the construction of the Pyramids. The architecture of ancient Athens is thought to have been based on it. Fictional Harvard symbolist Robert Langdon tried to unravel its mysteries in the novel The Da Vinci Code. “It” is the golden ratio, a geometric proportion that has been theorized to be the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye and has been the root of countless mysteries over the centuries.
A Cohesion of Forces
O’Brien had never created artwork until three years ago. He had no idea he could do anything like this. He tells the story of how it all began unexpectedly while sitting in a living room at a friend’s house in Atlanta. “The only way I can describe it is—it was like a vision,” he says. He began to see what was something like ripples reverberating off the floor. “Sort of like the earth breathing. It felt alive.” He had a sudden urge to create something using this design. He says it felt like he had no choice but to draw it.
One he started drawing, he began to see the geometrical shapes in everything. “They jumped out at me,” he says. It’s the way he views things now, the brain’s way of making sense of things in the universe.
The artist cannot explain the experience. He has no formal training in art and has never experimented with creativity until now. He says both he and his sister are artistic and can only guess that it comes from his father’s side of the family. While his mother has a creative mind, his father, a contractor, had more artistic abilities. He could sketch, and used drawing in his work. “He had the visualization skills for creating art,” he claims. “I think I get that from him. He knew how to manifest an idea and bring it to reality.” And he did this by building houses.
Born and raised in Hahira, O’Brien holds two degrees from Valdosta State University, a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a B.S. in General Studies. In addition, he has minors in African American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Philosophy. His philosophy background explains his interest in Sacred Geometry and his ability to understand the nature of his work and the philosophy behind it.
“The Ascension Project”
O’Brien has been building a collection of artwork entitled “The Ascension Project.” It is not the ascension typically associated with religious beliefs. This work is founded on the belief called The Ascension, a belief held by the new age spiritualist. It literally means “to rise” and discard everything you’ve known. He says his collection is about the realization of what life is about—”to be in the moment—to be grateful.”
Currently, the works in his collection are entitled Creative Chaos, The Thumbprint of God, Universal Hands, the United States of Hysterica, Hand and Seek, KalEYEdoscope, Union of the Masculine and Feminine, Egypt Burning and Aztec Sunrise. And one untitled piece that he is working on now, a mix of the Christian cross and the Vetruvian Man.
His piece Creative Chaos took him about 300 hours to create. He says, “This piece is an outward expression of how I feel inwardly.”
“The pieces are a serenade of my life,” he says. “It’s the different moods of my life, an artistic syntax, so to speak.” His first piece, drawn in pencil, was rudimentary and simple, nothing like the pieces he creates today. As his life becomes more complex, so does the artwork. “The entire canvas fills up because my life fills up,” he explains. From a distance, O’Brien’s work looks like one big piece that is connected by lines. When studied closely, the viewer finds the lines never touch. “This is symbolic of how from space, the world looks like one big piece, but as one gets closer, the millions of people inhabiting the earth come into view. We are separate, but one.”
A common thread that runs through all of the artwork is O’Brien’s use of line art, complex lines, and starbursts. He often uses the “all seeing eye”, the Eye of Providence, which is commonly thought to represent the eye of God watching over humanity. O’Brien believes it is symbolic of humankind seeing the true nature of ourselves. In keeping with the psychologist and philosopher Carl Jung, “You must be your shadow self,” The Ascension Project is about looking at our dualistic nature. “The work has forced me to face the music about myself and my own duality,” he says.
The pieces contain subliminal messages—words and phrases are incorporated into the art. Some are very obvious and others are worked into artwork. All the pieces are uniquely signed by the artist, his name worked into the intricate lines of the artwork.
The Creative Process
All the work is done free hand with a pen and ink—no rulers. Nothing is computer generated or designed with creative software. “I measure the paper to determine the exact center. I start at that point and work in a radius.” Three out of the eight pieces in his collection started out with an vague idea of what he wanted to create, but most of the time, O’Brien has no idea what the outcome will be once the pen hits the paper. “I don’t know what I am going to draw. The work just evolves naturally,” he says. “It’s like something takes over and guides me as I work.” Collectively, he devoted 350 to 400 hours to his piece Hand and Seek before it was completed.
Like any artist, O’Brien has work habits and things he does to encourage the creative process. “I typically work alone and shut out all distractions,” he says. “My mood when working is highly introspective, contemplative, and misanthropic.” The nature of the work is isolating—demanding extreme concentration. He sometimes listens to classical music or podcasts to drown out the world while he works.
When asked where he gets his inspiration, O’Brien is quick with a response. “It’s straight from my subconscious.” He describes an overwhelming urge to create and sometimes it completely takes over his life. He starts working on a piece and can’t stop. “I get into a zone, often working ten to twelve hours,” he says. He once worked on the piece Creative Chaos for sixteen hours straight.
O’Brien has big dreams for his artwork and hopes to hold a show soon when he feels he has enough work. Due to the complexity of his artwork, creating a body of work big enough for a show takes a long time. For now, he showcases his work whenever he gets the opportunity, most recently at an event in Hahira over the holidays.
O’Brien says this whole artistic experience has changed him in ways he could have never imagined. He says, “This process has taken everything I used to be and turned it upside down. It is opening me up in ways I didn’t think possible.”
Zach O’Brien’s “The Ascension Project” can be viewed here.
To find out more about his work and details on pricing, you may contact him a 229-507-7248.
Recently, O’Brien appeared with his work on The Roy Kirkland Show. This segment can be viewed here.