The Artist Process
My artwork is created while exploring practices that
bring unconscious experiences into consciousness. The
artwork develops while exploring the C.G. Jungian practices,
of Dream Exploration, Active Imagination and Authentic Movement. The artwork emerges while exploring the
awareness practices of meditation and mindfulness, an
attention to the inner body of Body-Mind Centering, and
the spontaneity of Movement and Theater Improvisation,
C.G. Jung believed that the unconscious has two natural pathways for speaking to the conscious mind; one is by
dreams, the other is through Active Imagination. Dreams
create a language of images that express conflicts,
interactions and dynamics within one's inner life. Active Imagination is a method of introspection that invites the
people and creatures of the unconscious and collective unconscious to arise and make contact. The process is
one of listening deeply, and inviting the inner parts to
engage in dialogue.
These practices ask me to deeply reflect on what
matters in the world, and to me. The story paintings bring
visual form to the exploration of diversity, identity,
relationships, animal extinction, the environment and the unconscious realm. These paintings juxtapose people from various cultures and races, interacting with each other,
spiritual beings, and imaginary animal like creatures. The
images draw from a variety of cultural traditions,
mythologies and religious backgrounds. The images
surface from the personal experience of traveling, teaching
and working with diverse populations of people, as well
as my individual cultural background.
When I paint, I work intuitively, opening to the
unconscious through a deep listening. Some of the work
arises as I concentrate on bringing a quality of attention on
some impressive but unintelligible dream image. Such as
the dream image of a Native American Indian woman that
opens a door with apprehension, to a room full of imaginary animal spirits as in the painting Visions. A sequence of
dream images, may ask to take visual form, for instance
when I journeyed to Nevada, where I dreamed of a Native American Shaman working with her eagle familiar, to Conjure
a ritual where animals slowly take form, and come back from extinction.
Active Imagination as an artistic process is one of leaving
the external world behind, as figures ask to come into consciousness and be known. A recurrent visitor is the
dragon as protector, as in Dragon Protector, as creative
muse in Jamaican Splendor and as a flying witness in
Cradled in the Turbulence. The dragon is a mythical beast
found in Asian cultures, and in European folk traditions
related to the Balkans and Druid mythologies. Some of the mixed-media artwork emerges from the materials, watching
the watercolors flow into each other, opening access to the
flow of the imagination.
Some of the work emerges during an Authentic
Movement session no longer in image or dream but now
in my body, allowing the movement to happen, as my
psyche and body draw or paint between movement experiences. Authentic Movement was developed by
Mary Stark Whitehouse, a dancer and psychotherapist who applied Jung's method of Active Imagination to movement.
Inner parts speak, move, and ask to be seen in a painting.
During an Authentic Movement session a woman in a burka
appeared. She took visual form in the painting Cloaked
where a woman in a colorful burka is surrounded by human
and animal spirits giving her courage and support.
The artwork can be fantastical, verging on the surreal,
where creatures interact with sorcerers, angels, devas or
nature spirits in imaginary environments. Devas, and Nature Spirits can be found in Hindu, and Buddhist cultures,
depicted in paintings such as Rising Spirit, or Water Spirit. Angels can appear in the artwork as well, such as in
Swooping Down where an Asian angel surprises a hybrid
turtle and owl creature, as she descends.
Some of the work arises after exploring theater or
movement improvisation scores, where figures appear, converse, and play with other improvisers. After a group movement and theater improvisation score, a painting took form, where there is a journey past an alien, a transparent
horse like creature, traveling past a Native American spirit guardian, and a dragon spirit guardian in conflict, before
Entering the Void.
The images in the paintings are juxtaposed, sometimes whimsical and playful, calm and meditative, or full of
struggle. The paintings unfold, each piece strange, unique, slowly forming, with a playful logic that unifies, and yet
seems authentic. Each piece circles the veils between reality
and imaginary worlds, asking is this a dream, a memory, a
body sensation, a magical story, or a glimpse at something
other. The aim to is offer the viewer new perspectives, and
a creative understanding of cultural differences, or to
ponder a new possibility for existence. My intention as an
artist is to invite the viewer to be curious, to move into a
space of their own imagination, and speculate about what
the artwork inspires in them.
The abstract painting are sourced from internal
experiences as well. Some of the abstract paintings develop during a Body- Mind Centering exploration of my inner body systems. Visualizing my full body, fluid filled internal organs,
as in the painting Inner World. Entering a cellular breathing
body state and experiencing the spaciousness of cellular consciousness, where space and a thin fascial web surround
the cells, and then creating Floating Cells. Some of the
abstract work is created after mediation practice where a
calm, peaceful presence is embodied, and then takes visual
form as in Reflection.
Once down on paper I can now see the unconscious or collective unconscious made conscious and reflect upon it.
I do not always know the meaning, and each new viewing allows further interpretation. A single piece can have a
weaving of references: personal, collective, global, memory, dreams, rituals, body impressions, landscapes- past, present moment and future. As I work on a piece I usually begin to
have a name or a story about the work. This bringing the unconscious into consciousness keeps me engaged in the
piece. Quite often references overlap leading to multiple associations. This multiple meaning making, flows through
the creative process, and applies when the work hangs on
"Witnessing the Turbulence" was painted while practicing Active Imagination in an Authentic Movement session. Floods of emotion circle the quiet mind. Fear is embraced by earth's comforting abode. Young dragon mind, vivid and explosive cascades into view. The winged observer looks down from the heavens to witness.