Joseph McVetty must think it’s Halloween every day. His subtle pencil drawings are littered with groups of scantily clad people carrying out strange ceremonies and rituals. He sketches masked girls sitting on top of a circle of mushrooms, assisting a floating diamond deity. We see gatherings of people holding skulls above their heads in formation, trying to harness their collective power. There are also Shamans wearing skulls who seem to be about to begin some sort of exorcism or are absorbing energy from the people wearing skulls circling them. No matter the scenario, McVetty’s work is rooted in new-age spiritualism, occult ritual, and psychedelic culture.
Living in Portland, Oregon, McVetty’s work draws on his own experiences with rituals of being in the woods on the east coast. He talks of the powerful effect nature has on him:
I remember going to the Bagby Hot Springs with my wife soon after we relocated here and having a really magical experience. The very existence of these hot springs is a lovely idea to me, but being out in that old growth forest with all of the accompanying sights and smells was overwhelming. Then to come upon a group of strangers, naked, getting high, filling up those old log tubs and laying in that steaming water blew my mind. (Source)
He says even though his work is connected to these personal stories and memories, his drawings also are concerned with events from the wider world:
A perfect example is the recent wave of civil resistance movements central to the successes of the Arab Spring. These sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches and rallies are exactly the kind of energy gathering rituals that inspire me. (Source)