Ayahuasca-inspired art at Gamut Gallery

Ramses Alarcon-Sanchez has been inquisitive about the unknown since his first drag of marijuana when he was 16. He was curious about how it made him feel. Then he discovered books like The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda, which led him to ancient medicines like ayahuasca and peyote.

Gamut Gallery
free; exhibit finale party $10

His first ceremony with ayahuasca, a powerful hallucinogen many believe has medicinal properties, was about four years ago. He was nervous, because he had no idea what was going to happen. The experience turned into a very intense journey, one where he lost control over where his mind went and what he saw.

The drug brought about deep revelations about his mother. He envisioned her energy as a sparkling white light, which then transformed into a big ball. And then, she was gone into the cosmos. Her loss was something he felt. He came to a startling realization.

“One day she will die,” he says. “I had never thought about my mom dying before like that.”

After that experience, he told his mother that he loved her, and thanked her for everything she had done for him. While he says everyone's experience with medicines such as ayahuasca is different, he believes they can provide answers to questions that ultimately make them better people. Since he's been participating in these ceremonies — the last being 10 months ago — he's felt an improvement in how he feels about himself. 

The journeys he's taken has inspired him as an artist, too. For "Ineffable," an exhibition opening this weekend at Gamut Gallery, he decided to bring 11 photographers, each with their own unique style, together. With each piece, Alarcon-Sanchez then manipulated the work to create something entirely new. He used materials such as ink, acrylic, and spray paint, etching directly on the photographs. He had no idea what the outcome was going to be, but that was all part of the experience.

At Saturday's show, he's open to any and all kinds of reactions. 

“Whatever happens, I'm gonna be good with it,” he says.