Ajani Russell

Mariah Carey Spelled Backwards (2019)

We enter the office deep in the labyrinth of the mind. A chair has been knocked to the ground. The leader of Program and Control is nowhere to be found. There is evidence of a struggle but nothing to further determine the cause of its disappearance. Was there a kidnapping? Was it an inside job? The vessel begins to malfunction. It is spewing nonsensical rhetoric. Operational fuels begin to leak seep from every crevice. The vessel has been freed from its mind control consciousness. It is now able to take back its birthright...


From birth we are injected by society with various opinions, moral concepts, and ideals through all forms of media. The feeling in your gut, the little voice in the back of your mind grows quiet. We become silenced by a demanding voice that is not our own. It is not we who are making the decisions - it is them. Our native tongues are cut from our mouths, and we are stripped of our individual abilities and forced to assimilate. Slowly our power to think for ourselves and make decisions seeps out of us. We rely on resources outside of ourselves to find the answers. Our minds grow sleepy. Learning to reclaim the colonized spaces in our minds begins with realizing how much mind space has been taken.

Communication begins with a sensation that is felt in the heart as a core truth that you really believe in. From the heart, the sensation transforms into a thought that allows it to travel to the brain where it develops into a feeling that can be shared verbally with another person who must digest the words and translate them into their own internal language. This internal communication is a lost language - somewhere between thought and feeling that must be shared.

Mariah Carey Spelled Backwards is an exploration of communication and relationships that link the mind, the heart and the body. The role language plays in these interrelationships is presented through a metaphysical viewfinder.

The title is deliberately misleading. It is intended to pose a question, trigger a mental process, promote personal interpretation and provoke thoughtful commentary on how we are taught to learn and understand. The viewer is encouraged to search within, rather than look to an external source for an answer. Learning to favor and trust our instincts rather than any outside influence is not something we are taught to do by the educational system.

Each piece shows a different state of mind or stage along the process. Some pieces have mutations that represent mutations of the soul that comes from lack of introspection. When consciousness is present, inner thoughts are unified with outward expression: inside reflects the outside. I use my practice as a vehicle for communicating ideas about the relationship between the subconscious and reality, and how intimately familiar emotions - attached to colors and compositional behavior - are evoked, unifying the mind and subconscious in spiritual reorganization.