Shawn Thornton on his work:
Painting, for me, is largely an attempt to decrypt the mechanisms of illness through a disciplined medium. I feel, on some deep internal level, that through my painting practice I’m engaged in a psychic process to illuminate the intricate vessels and cogs of an insidious physic current that stems, in part, from having had a serious illness, and all the subtle and profound ways I was altered by this experience. All throughout my early adulthood, I struggled from the mental and physical effects of a slow growing tumor in my brain, the symptoms of which were repeatedly misdiagnosed by my doctors as purely psychological in origin, and it ultimately took over half a decade to get a proper diagnosis and treatment to shrink the tumor. I suffered immeasurably during this period from having repeatedly undergone a host of treatments meant to treat the symptoms of mental illness, and paradoxically, from a mental illness that ultimately could not be contained. The tumor was in the very center of my brain, in a small, mysterious organ at the top of the spinal column, the pineal gland. I didn’t have any prior reason to consider the actual material existence of the pineal before this. As for its spiritually ominous and physically precarious location at epicenter of my being, my ability to conceptualize these facts seemed utterly unreal, ethereal, like nothing short of a sordid space exploration, as it had been making its presence known to me for so long and now there were surgeons probing into my head – into my consciousness. As I further researched my illness directly after being released from the hospital, and after having had undergone emergency brain surgery a few days earlier, I quickly became very quizzical by what I was finding. What had been developing in my art, half unconsciously, over the previous several years in which I had been very ill and labored to keep painting, all of a sudden became very clear. Elements in the paintings seemed to correlate directly to the pineal gland and to many of its mystical and biological functions that have puzzled humankind for centuries. All throughout the history of human sciences, religions, and philosophies, of different civilizations and cultures all over the world, people have contemplated and researched the pineal because of its mysterious location at the center of our brain. For me, most notable, was its purposed role in the production of endogenous DMT in humans, and its proximity in our brains to the Ajna chakra, or third eye. I also found it intriguing that the pineal gland regulates biorhythms in humans through the production of the hormone melatonin. This brought to mind images of medical charts; of archetypal schematics and universal symbols.