Work samples

  • Medicina (2023)

    “Medicina, ”mixed media, 16"x16" (2023). This piece was formed out of the profound reverence I hold for natural medicines and indigenous medicine and wisdom traditions throughout the world. This piece contains a number of healing and ceremonial plants that exist in various areas of Central and South America, and which have been used traditionally and ceremonially for a variety of purposes.

  • Within This Infinite Moment (2021)
    "Within This Infinite Moment," mixed media, 16"x16" (2021). This piece encompasses a year's exploration into mindfulness. Engaging in regular mindfulness practices that ground me into the present has helped me attune to my own now and appreciate each moment, even the challenging ones, as an opportunity to deepen my connection with myself and the world around me.
  • Her Greatest Gift (2020)
    “Her Greatest Gift,” mixed media, 12”x12” (2020). Earth herself offered the inspiration for this piece. When we examine the balance we see in nature, we find that it is based in the act of both giving and receiving, of finding mutual benefit in reciprocity. In the context of COVID-19, humans can draw on inspiration from natural patterns: rather than withholding support and acting solely out of self-interest, the best path to survival is to support one another and work together to create solutions.
  • Gatekeeper (2020)
    “Gatekeeper,” mixed media, 12”x12” (2020). The inspiration for this piece came from my reflections on the sacred role of wisdom keepers through the ages. These wisdom keepers, often solitary but singular individuals in the community, serve as the essential conduit through which certain specialized knowledge is stored and accessed for the benefit of all.

About Summer

Baltimore City, Howard County

Artist Biography

Summer Blake (she/her) is a self-taught artist living and creating in Baltimore. Her creative journey began with the simple act of mindless doodling, but when she discovered a compass and protractor, her life changed forever. Her love for symmetry, repetitive patterns, and vivid colors all stand out as distinctive markers of her work. However, the one constant throughout all her work is its contemplative nature. Summer's work is an exploration into… more

Seminal Works

This collection of works contains a triad of standalone pieces designed to facilitate unique portals of contemplation for the viewer, and is thematically arranged in the following order:

1. Life;
2. The Infinite; and
3. Death.


Medicina (2023)
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 16"x16"

"Medicina" was formed out of the profound reverence I hold for the earth and indigenous medicine practices and wisdom traditions throughout the world. This piece contains a number of healing and ceremonial plants that are native to various areas of Central and South America, and which have been used traditionally and ceremonially for a variety of purposes.

Unlike many Western medicines, which treat only symptoms without seeking to identify the root cause of pain, these medicines offer a pathway into learning about ourselves and healing the underlying wounds that have given rise to our sickness. The more we give our time to growing our awareness of the interdependent nature of all life, the more we experience healing and restoration both on an individual and collective level.

Plants include sananga, tobacco, bobinsana, and ayahuma. Located at the center is the giant monkey frog, or kambo frog.


Within This Infinite Moment (2021)
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 16"x16"

"Within This Infinite Moment" encompasses a year's exploration into mindfulness. Engaging in regular mindfulness practices that ground me into the present has helped me attune to my own now and appreciate each moment, even the challenging ones, as an opportunity to deepen my connection with myself and the world around me. These practices have given rise to insights which I have endeavored to communicate through this piece.

The rising phoenix communicates that we are both dying and being reborn in each moment. The water flowing from the outstretched hands alludes to opening to a state of flow rather than operating from a state of resistance: if we open to letting go of what no longer serves, and to receiving whatever life has to offer, we move more smoothly through its currents. As the ouroboros swallows its tail, so too does each moment recede into the event horizon of what is to come.

Each moment births new selves, new ways of being. And each moment is endlessly complex, endlessly vibrant, endlessly captivating.

Each moment is infinite, yet the only moment we ever have is now.


Night Mother (2022)
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 11"x14"

So often we recognize beauty in the creation and the proliferation of life, but death and decay are equally of value. In order to be reborn, we must allow old parts of ourselves to die; they form the wealth of fertile soil which is generative of life and birth. “Night Mother” is a shrine and invocation to the act of dying, both literally and metaphorically, honoring its sacred role in life.

This piece features a multitude of plant and fungal life, from amanita muscaria (toxic or mind-altering in small doses) to common nightshade (poisonous) to the ayahuasca vine (also known as the “Vine of Souls”) as powerful embodiments of the liminal states that surround and pervade death and birth. The cowled figure at center is pale and silent, unmoving in the stillness of death, yet crowned with the fiery feathers of the phoenix - standing on the threshold of her own becoming. The message is to let go of our fear of change. Through this, we open to our greatest potential and surrender to an ineffable intimacy with our deepest selves.

  • Medicina

    “Medicina” was formed out of the profound reverence I hold for natural medicines and indigenous medicine and wisdom traditions throughout the world. This piece contains a number of healing and ceremonial plants that exist in various areas of Central and South America, and which have been used traditionally and ceremonially for a variety of purposes.

  • Medicina (detail)

    Featured plants include sananga, tobacco, bobinsana, and ayahuma. At the center of the piece is the giant monkey frog, or kambo frog.

  • Within This Infinite Moment
    "Within This Infinite Moment" encompasses a year's exploration into mindfulness. Engaging in regular mindfulness practices that ground me into the present has helped me attune to my own now and appreciate each moment, even the challenging ones, as an opportunity to deepen my connection with myself and the world around me. These practices have given rise to insights which I have endeavored to communicate through this piece.
  • Within This Infinite Moment (detail)
    "Within This Infinite Moment" encompasses a year's exploration into mindfulness. Engaging in regular mindfulness practices that ground me into the present has helped me attune to my own now and appreciate each moment, even the challenging ones, as an opportunity to deepen my connection with myself and the world around me. These practices have given rise to insights which I have endeavored to communicate through this piece.
  • Night Mother

    So often, we perceive beauty in creation and the proliferation of life, but death and decay are equally of value. In order to be reborn, we must allow the old parts of ourselves to die; they form the wealth of fertile soil which generates life and birth. “Night Mother” is a shrine and invocation to the act of dying, honoring its sacred role in life.

  • Night Mother (detail)

    This piece features a multitude of plant and fungal life, from amanita muscaria (toxic or mind-altering in small doses) to common nightshade (poisonous) to the ayahuasca vine (also known as the “Vine of Souls”) as sacred vessels of the liminal states that surround and pervade death and birth. The message, as always, is to trust our becoming by opening to a greater intimacy with ourselves and this very moment within which we dwell.

Individual as Collective

The works of art featured in this series each contain an individual (or pair of individuals) who serves as the focal point. The intention, however, is not to isolate this central figure but rather to emphasize their connection to the surrounding microcosm, creating a dialogue of reciprocity and communication wherein each element reinforces and informs the others. The resulting narrative is one of union, with each part flowing into and forming the greater whole.
 

Her Greatest Gift (2020)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12"x12"

Gatekeeper (2020)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12"x12"

Alchemista (2020)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12"x12"

Green Medicine (2020)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12"x12"

Yab Yum (2019)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 13"x17"

  • Her Greatest Gift
    Earth's greatest gift lies in the interconnectedness of the web of all her living beings. When we closely examine the balance in nature, we see that each organism participates in both giving and receiving, fundamentally acting in reciprocity. This is contrary to the current human paradigm, which is premised upon a delusion of separateness. Rather than acting solely out of self-interest, the best path to survival is to support one another and work together to create solutions.
  • Her Greatest Gift (detail)
    Earth's greatest gift lies in the interconnectedness of the web of all her living beings. When we closely examine the balance in nature, we see that each organism participates in both giving and receiving, fundamentally acting in reciprocity. This is contrary to the current human paradigm, which is premised upon a delusion of separateness. Rather than acting solely out of self-interest, the best path to survival is to support one another and work together to create solutions.
  • Gatekeeper
    The inspiration for this piece came from my reflections on the sacred role of wisdom keepers through the ages. These wisdom keepers, often solitary but singular individuals in the community, serve as the essential conduit through which certain specialized knowledge is stored and accessed for the benefit of all.
  • Gatekeeper (detail)
    The inspiration for this piece came from my reflections on the sacred role of wisdom keepers through the ages. These wisdom keepers, often solitary but singular individuals in the community, serve as the essential conduit through which certain specialized knowledge is stored and accessed for the benefit of all.
  • Alchemista
    This piece illustrates the process of spiritual alchemy, in which an individual undergoes a process of transformation through intense self-examination. Each part of this process is sacred. Examining the ugliest parts of ourselves, accepting them with love, and releasing what no longer serves us, is incredibly difficult, but vital to our growth process. "Alchemista" captures the ineffable beauty of personal transformation – even the parts that we find difficult to love.
  • Alchemista (detail)
    This piece illustrates the process of spiritual alchemy, in which an individual undergoes a process of transformation through intense self-examination. Each part of this process is sacred. Examining the ugliest parts of ourselves, accepting them with love, and releasing what no longer serves us, is incredibly difficult, but vital to our growth process. "Alchemista" captures the ineffable beauty of personal transformation – even the parts that we find difficult to love.
  • Green Medicine
    Depicting Guanyin, the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion, "Green Medicine" embodies inner peace. Dwelling at center, Guanyin gazes serenely at the viewer; the cup before her is overflowing with water. All things appear to be in motion, yet all is still. This piece encourages us to keep our hearts open to life instead of resisting its flow. In this way, we come into alignment with the universe and its profoundly beautiful rhythms and patterns.
  • Green Medicine (detail)
    Depicting Guanyin, the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion, "Green Medicine" embodies inner peace. Dwelling at center, Guanyin gazes serenely at the viewer; the cup before her is overflowing with water. All things appear to be in motion, yet all is still. This piece encourages us to keep our hearts open to life instead of resisting its flow. In this way, we come into alignment with the universe and its profoundly beautiful rhythms and patterns.
  • Yab Yum
    In Tibetan Buddhism, the symbolic "yab-yum" pose depicting union between the masculine and the feminine represents an overcoming of the illusion of separation which is believed to be the root cause of suffering. In a world where many individuals are still compelled to fit their complex identities into a rigid gender binary, or restrict their overall self-expression to stay within narrow boundaries of what is acceptable and what isn't, this piece seeks to convey the bliss we experience when we fully accept and integrate all aspects of ourselves.
  • Yab Yum (detail)
    In Tibetan Buddhism, the symbolic "yab-yum" pose depicting union between the masculine and the feminine represents an overcoming of the illusion of separation which is believed to be the root cause of suffering. In a world where many individuals are still compelled to fit their complex identities into a rigid gender binary, or restrict their overall self-expression to stay within narrow boundaries of what is acceptable and what isn't, this piece seeks to convey the bliss we experience when we fully accept and integrate all aspects of ourselves.

Collective as Individual

The works of art featured in this series depict dynamic processes which transcend boundaries, space, and/or time. Each piece contains many small parts which flow together to create an encompassing narrative or theme. However, to each viewer, that story is different. Employing familiar mythological figures, geographies, natural cycles, and archetypal symbols, the intention is not to tell the viewer a particular story, but rather to emphasize that to experience art is to experience one’s own story.

One who is like water (2021)
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12"x12"

Higher Self (2020)
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 16"x16"

Transcendence (2019)
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 16"x16"

Her Glorious Design (2020)
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12"x12"

The Hidden One (2018)
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 10"x10"

  • One who is like water
    This piece relates to the peace we can achieve when we exist in a state of surrender rather than one of resistance. If we close ourselves off from life by trying to avoid the things we fear, we shut ourselves off from possibility and opportunity. When we open to the flow, when we open to trusting it, life opens like a flower. Water is a recurrent motif in this mandala, emphasizing water's innate ability to move and transform throughout the ecosystem.
  • One who is like water (detail)
    This piece relates to the peace we can achieve when we exist in a state of surrender rather than one of resistance. If we close ourselves off from life by trying to avoid the things we fear, we shut ourselves off from possibility and opportunity. When we open to the flow, when we open to trusting it, life opens like a flower. Water is a recurrent motif in this mandala, emphasizing water's innate ability to move and transform throughout the ecosystem.
  • Higher Self

    “Higher Self” is about moving through a very difficult time in life without knowing who we will become at the end of whatever we are going through. In this piece, an older woman gazes compassionately down at a young woman who is outstretching her arms as if to dive. This represents a mature self looking back on a time of incredible growth and healing, at a younger self who was so afraid and so uncertain of her value. The message is to trust in what is to come, and to remember how deeply we are loved.

  • Higher Self (detail)

    “Higher Self” is about moving through a very difficult time in life without knowing who we will become at the end of whatever we are going through. In this piece, an older woman gazes compassionately down at a young woman who is outstretching her arms as if to dive. This represents a mature self looking back on a time of incredible growth and healing, at a younger self who was so afraid and so uncertain of her value. The message is to trust in what is to come, and to remember how deeply we are loved.

  • Transcendence
    In the face of great suffering, it is easy to see only the suffering and miss the bigger picture. Yet beyond every obstacle lies the potential to learn important lessons about life and move beyond our current state. "Transcendence" is an allusion to our ability to rise beyond a fear-based narrative where we are convinced that we cannot escape our present state of being. By trusting ourselves, and trusting life, we have the ability to transform our paradigm into one of empowerment, and achieve our greatest potential.
  • Transcendence (detail)
    In the face of great suffering, it is easy to see only the suffering and miss the bigger picture. Yet beyond every obstacle lies the potential to learn important lessons about life and move beyond our current state. "Transcendence" is an allusion to our ability to rise beyond a fear-based narrative where we are convinced that we cannot escape our present state of being. By trusting ourselves, and trusting life, we have the ability to transform our paradigm into one of empowerment, and achieve our greatest potential.
  • Her Glorious Design
    This piece came into being just as the world was reacting to the spread of the pandemic in late March of 2020. Humanity was collectively reacting to COVID-19 with fear, panic, and disbelief. Connecting all continents through myriad blood-vessel-like networks, “Her Glorious Design” alludes to the shared, albeit disparate, experience of all of humanity during these difficult times. The central eye, radiating outward to form an undivided mandala, represents a hidden wisdom or awareness: that even in times of great suffering, there is the opportunity to grow together through our struggles, rather than become divided by them.
  • Her Glorious Design (detail)
    This piece came into being just as the world was reacting to the spread of the pandemic in late March of 2020. Humanity was collectively reacting to COVID-19 with fear, panic, and disbelief. Connecting all continents through myriad blood-vessel-like networks, “Her Glorious Design” alludes to the shared, albeit disparate, experience of all of humanity during these difficult times. The central eye, radiating outward to form an undivided mandala, represents a hidden wisdom or awareness: that even in times of great suffering, there is the opportunity to grow together through our struggles, rather than become divided by them.
  • The Hidden One
    "The Hidden One" contains an array of Ancient Egyptian gods centered around a central goddess, Amaunet, whose name translates to "the female hidden one." Although hidden, Amaunet's role as equivocator between life and death is powerful indeed and a reminder of the many subtle, unseen influences that weave together to shape our lives.
  • The Hidden One (detail)
    "The Hidden One" contains an array of Ancient Egyptian gods centered around a central goddess, Amaunet, whose name translates to "the female hidden one." Although hidden, Amaunet's role as equivocator between life and death is powerful indeed and a reminder of the many subtle, unseen influences that weave together to shape our lives.

Abstractions

The works of art featured in these series speak indirectly, leveraging the power of pattern, color, subtle symbol and simple form to communicate their messages.


Twin Reflections on Infinity (2023)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9"x9"

Thousand-Petal Lotus Brain (2019)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 10"x13"

Remembering (2019)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 12"x12"

Sunflower (2017)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9"x9"

The Journey Within (2018)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 9"x9"

  • Twin Reflections on Infinity

    If you’ve ever fought with yourself, you may be familiar with the experience of inner conflict. "Twin Reflections on Infinity" recognizes the validity of humanity's inner struggles, while also offering the possibility of reconciliation. The two fishes symbolize our dual or contradictory nature, while the lotus in the center symbolizes the intrinsic unity of our entire being. When we accept rather than judge, the unloved parts of us begin to heal, and we reclaim our capacity for wholeness.

  • Twin Reflections on Infinity (detail)

    If you’ve ever fought with yourself, you may be familiar with the experience of inner conflict. "Twin Reflections on Infinity" recognizes the validity of humanity's inner struggles, while also offering the possibility of reconciliation. The two fishes symbolize our dual or contradictory nature, while the lotus in the center symbolizes the intrinsic unity of our entire being. When we accept rather than judge, the unloved parts of us begin to heal, and we reclaim our capacity for wholeness.

  • Thousand-Petal Lotus Brain
    This piece was created spontaneously. Rather than trying to engineer the structure of the piece from start to finish, the form emerged organically from moment to moment as I simply allowed the piece to take the direction it wanted to. "Thousand-Petal" is a study into the bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind. Surrendering to the creative urge gives us the opportunity to explore and bear witness to the mysterious depths of our subconscious.
  • Thousand-Petal Lotus Brain (detail)
    This piece was created spontaneously. Rather than trying to engineer the structure of the piece from start to finish, the form emerged organically from moment to moment as I simply allowed the piece to take the direction it wanted to. "Thousand-Petal" is a study into the bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind. Surrendering to the creative urge gives us the opportunity to explore and bear witness to the mysterious depths of our subconscious.
  • Remembering
    Always coming up against my own expectations of who I ought and ought not to be, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself. In the midst of an intense inner conflict, I experienced the sudden and profound realization that my greatest gift to the world is the act of simply being myself. That realization culminated visually in the creation of "Remembering."
  • Remembering (detail)
    Always coming up against my own expectations of who I ought and ought not to be, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself. In the midst of an intense inner conflict, I experienced the sudden and profound realization that my greatest gift to the world is the act of simply being myself. That realization culminated visually in the creation of "Remembering."
  • Sunflower
    This piece came into being through a meditation on a sunflower. Prevalent throughout my meditation was a feeling of empathy with the sunflower's abiding love for the sun. Although rooted to the earth, it raises itself ever higher, growing as tall as it can to be closer to the sun's warmth and radiance. "Sunflower" is representative of how love can be the impetus for extraordinary growth. It also reminds us that perceived physical limitations can serve as the means to unique forms of self-expression.
  • Sunflower (detail)
    This piece came into being through a meditation on a sunflower. Prevalent throughout my meditation was a feeling of empathy with the sunflower's abiding love for the sun. Although rooted to the earth, it raises itself ever higher, growing as tall as it can to be closer to the sun's warmth and radiance. "Sunflower" is representative of how love can be the impetus for extraordinary growth. It also reminds us that perceived physical limitations can serve as the means to unique forms of self-expression.
  • The Journey Within
    "The Journey Within," with its multitudes of layers and labyrinths, alludes to the endless journey toward self-discovery. There is always another layer; there is always something hidden. Perhaps the greatest source of curiosity is how deep we really go.
  • The Journey Within (detail)
    "The Journey Within," with its multitudes of layers and labyrinths, alludes to the endless journey toward self-discovery. There is always another layer; there is always something hidden. Perhaps the greatest source of curiosity is how deep we really go.

The Chakra Series

This seven-piece series symbolically navigates the metaphysical journey from a limited state of awareness, in which the individual is only focused on themself, to an expanded state of compassionate awareness, in which one attains a state of harmony and oneness with all.

My interest in learning more about the chakra system served as the initial impetus for the series. In a number of mystical traditions throughout the world, the chakras represent energy centers which are situated vertically along the spine and located within the subtle body.

Each chakra relates to a different level or state of awareness. When energy moves unhindered all the way upwards through the chakras, a person can attain higher states of consciousness, ultimately resulting in an experience of being in perfect union with all of existence. On the other hand, experiences of pain cause us to contract. The energy within the chakras stagnate and become trapped, furthering the illusion of otherness and separation from the rest of the world. Exploration of the symbolism of each chakra served as a basis for self-examination and yielded unique visual renditions of the seven-chakra system.

Root Chakra (2016)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5"x5"

Sacral Chakra (2016)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5"x5"

Solar Plexus Chakra (2016)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5"x5"

Heart Chakra (2016)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5"x5"

Throat Chakra (2017)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5"x5"

Third Eye Chakra (2017)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5"x5"

Crown Chakra (2017)
Pen on watercolor paper with black glitter backing, 5"x5"
  • Root Chakra
    The root chakra relates to physical survival and safety. The “rootedness” of the chakra refers both to its energetic position as the bottommost of the traditional seven-chakra system and also our connection to Earth. It represents the unconscious mind. This chakra serves as the foundation of our personality, as the mind, intellect, and consciousness originate in this chakra.
  • Sacral Chakra
    The sacral chakra pertains to the second stage in the evolution of our consciousness. As energy moves upwards through this chakra, if there is no blockage, it provides for purification, development of the conscious mind, and growth. Within this chakra resides the potential to ascend to joy, self-confidence, and boundless energy, as it is located in the womb-space where new life is created.
  • Solar Plexus Chakra
    The solar plexus chakra is located at the bellybutton and is connected to the element of fire. This is where vitality resides and where we draw strength to regain or integrate our overall health. It is magnetic, energetically powerful, and provides for balance and inner strength where it is needed.
  • Heart Chakra
    The heart chakra symbolizes our boundless capacity for love. It is located at the emotional center of the body, the heart. Here, we can alternately be overwhelmed by our emotions -- hate, jealousy, despair, desire -- or become transformed through a deep pull toward compassion, unity, forgiveness, and peace.
  • Throat Chakra
    The throat chakra corresponds to our ability to communicate, and so is appropriately located at the source of our physical voice. Symbolically, visuddha relates to creative expression, and to freedom of pure expression in general. If blocked, one may experience difficulty speaking up for oneself or telling the truth. If we have repressed or shut away certain experiences, and so dimmed our ability to live fully, this chakra is where we may find the means to release what we have been holding on to.
  • Third Eye Chakra
    The third eye chakra is positioned just above the eyes in the center of the forehead. This is the site of clarity and wisdom. As the eye of wisdom or knowledge, it is representative of the seat of one’s higher Self, connected on both sides to the human/individual and divine/unity.
  • Crown Chakra
    The crown chakra is pure light -- it contains all colors, is all things, in perfect unity. This is the site of liberation from samsara (the cycle of rebirth and death) and where the mind resides at last in peace. Here, ignorance fades away as full awakening blossoms into completion.