The Peak Experience of Adriana’s Sculpture

Ariana Slutzky- Gate


The peak experience induces the recognition that your own powers
are far greater than you imagined them.

~Colin Wilson~

Every once in a while, I take a scenic drive along Oatka Trail. With the many twists, it is hard to absorb all its beauty in my effort to stay on the road. On my first drive, about halfway along the Trail, I noticed some statues peering out from the woods. The next time I drove by, they were still there. I never knew quite what to make of them until I read a newspaper story about Jack and Adriana Slutzky and their collection of outdoor sculptures. Intrigued, I promised myself to visit them. I never made it until last week. My only regret was that I didn’t go sooner.

Jack greeted Carol and me along with the museum group he had scheduled for a tour that day. He explained that his wife had created all the works we would visit. We could see a few through the trees and had no idea of the extensive collection which waited us.

We learned that Jack and Adriana are both artists and had both taught art. Now Adriana concentrates on sculpture and Jack writes books and paints when he is not excavating, pouring concrete and moving completed works on a scale which reminded me of Easter Island.

Most of Adriana’s works embody the experience, joy and challenges of being a woman. Some pieces remind me of Henri Moore and Pablo Picasso. All of them rise from her unique inspiration. She explores the world of relationships in her pieces, working from a feminine perspective, the one she knows best.

Jack morphed from tour guide into art professor, giving us glimpses into Adriana’s inspiration and symbolism. We first saw individual works. Further into the tour, installations consisted of more and more pieces. A waterfall, the woods Oatka Creek gave the sculptures a context in nature. During the tour, I found myself deepening from curiosity through meditation, to a sense of awe which stayed with me the rest of the day.

I recalled Abraham Maslow’s writings about peak experiences, “Transpersonal and ecstatic states, particularly ones tinged with euphoria, harmonization and interconnectedness.” This was definitely such an event for me, one I will always treasure. It helped me make sense of the world, and especially of the women who inhabit it along with us men. My visit left me with an understanding of the lives of those around me, defying expression in words. The images say it all.

The greatest joy I receive while working at an arts council is coming face to face with the creative spirit of the artists I meet. That day’s experience brought great joy by allowing me to touch Adriana’s spirit.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Do you recall any peak experiences in your life?

  • What did they mean to you?

  • How did they affect your view of yourself and others?

  • Are you ready for them to happen again?

  • In the presence of great art, let yourself feel it rather than just seeing or hearing it.

Sliding Otter News: Choosing Wisdom for our Survival

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.

~Immanuel Kant~

Vandas in Barbados

Vandas in Barbados

I just finished Michio Kaku’s book, Physics of the Future. I feared he might glorify technology to the exclusion of anything human. Near the end of his book, he predicts that technology might eventually take over most of our mundane tasks. What will remain for us to do? He concludes that our task will be to develop a sense of wisdom, often lost in our fascination with new gadgets.

He says, “Without wisdom and insight, we are left to drift aimlessly and without purpose, with an empty, hollow feeling after the novelty of unlimited information wears off.” I have been writing for ten years about commonsense wisdom. This has been the theme of most everything I have written.

I have enjoyed comments by my readers saying that my writing resonates with them and helps them focus on what is important in their lives. Still, I wonder whether my efforts and those of my readers will be flattened by the steamroller of technology and computers.

Then I realize that technology and computers are only tools. Infatuation or even worship of our tools does not give our lives a purpose. Our tools make it easier for us to do things, but what do we want and need to do?

Isaac Asimov said, “The saddest aspect of society now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” We can put men on the moon and probe distant galaxies but we can’t figure out how to stop killing each other with endless wars. It seems that things have become worse since Asimov’s observation.

Thinkers throughout the ages have tried to make sense of life and find a purpose for our existence. Religious and philosophical thinkers have pondered the meaning of life for many centuries. Yet we seem to still wander aimlessly as a society with no clear direction. It has been said that wisdom comes with age. Yet I have seen older people go to their graves still scratching their heads, wondering what it is all about.

Why is wisdom, so hard to come by and what must we do to find it? First we must shut our mouths and listen. None of us has the corner on wisdom or the final answer within ourselves. We must know each others’ struggles and dreams and find a way to forge ahead together. It sounds almost impossible, but could it be harder than sending people to the moon and back?

We could destroy ourselves with our technology and almost did in the age of nuclear weapons. We scoff at the effect of our “progress” on the environment on which we depend for survival. We could still slowly poison ourselves for the sake of short term financial gain. What if wisdom became our priority?We could join hands and lives in shared wisdom while exploring our future possibilities. What do you choose?

Life Lab Lessons

  • Close your mouth and listen to others around you.

  • What can they teach you about life?

  • Try to understand others.

  • Be patient with them.

  • Practice ways to compromise.