Friday, December 14, 2012

Creation Station

I create at the intersection of art and healing.  

As a bodyworker and a interdisciplinary artist I intend to keep one foot in each world so that I can function as a bridge between them.  

I wish more artists saw themselves as healers and more healers saw themselves as artists.  

I believe that the need for each type of work pours out of the same well spring of inspiration when we are working to create the conditions for communing with something beautiful.  

I see the real experience of "art"as one that happens inside of us which is a realm that the healer knows intimately as well.  

A healing session can create the conditions for us to more deeply inhabit our bodies and art can remind us of the reasons we want to stay present in the world.  

It is through our bodies that we connect personally with our own inner muse which is the same force we tap into through our art making practices.

Onward to 2013!

The last 6 months have been a whirl wind for me.

Between graduating with an MFA degree and moving back to New Orleans my life has been a vortex of transition, change and the sprouting of seeds that are beginning to grow roots.

I am weeks away from becoming certified as a massage therapist in Louisiana which I am quite excited about as doing bodywork is one of thebrightest joys in my life.  While I have kept up a minimal practice throughout the years this part of my life has been on the back-burner as my focus has been set more on developing my artistic side.

One thing that came clear to me during my time in school was how deeply linked my artistic work is to my work as a healer.  I believe that for my artistic vision to reach the next level of unfolding I need to let my inner healer do her work in the world.  Getting to spend time assisting others to unwind what they hold in their bodies is a wonderful thrill.

During this time of transition I have finished two more river paintings.  One is of the rivers that flow out of Tibet (Yangtze River, Yellow River, Mekong River and Salween River) and the other is of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the Middle East.

I have many exciting goals on my 2013 artistic agenda:

-  Make a Sound Drone to compliment each of the river paintings.  My intention with this series is to create a contemplative atmosphere and these sound pieces are an integral piece to bringing this vision to life.

-  Expand my Beautiful Bodies series and explore ways to make other items from them.  I would like to begin selling these smaller art pieces at art markets around New Orleans and on

-  Begin work on the Valkyrie Tarot Deck that I am collaborating on.  This project has had to stay on hold until I finished school and I am so excited to begin this project.  Its gonna let me exercise my most esoteric brain and strengthen up my drawing skills.

- Commit to posting on this blog weekly and develop my presence on the social media landscape.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beautiful Bodies

I am excited to say that I am going to be showing some of my work at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans.
The Big Top Gallery is going to be doing a pop-up gallery and they asked to show my Mississippi River and some of my Beautiful Bodies pieces.

I haven't talked much about my Beautiful Bodies series though I have been sharing photographs on my Instagram feed (username: jenelleleighc).  They are a series of 6"x6" canvases that I paint black and onto which I put a skeleton in white making some kind of gesture with a bright red heart in her chest.  I include text next to her that describes the intention behind the gesture.  The text is also the title of each piece.

These pieces are very fun to do and reflect the beginning of my journey into becoming licensed in Louisiana to work as a massage therapist.  I became a massage therapist a decade ago at Health Choices Holistic Massage School in New Jersey.  My life has take so many twists and turns since then and my bodywork career has waited patiently on the sidelines for a while now.

To become licensed here I have to take a class through Blue Cliff College so that my hours match the state requirements and then take a qualifying exam (MBLEX) and an oral exam given by the LA state board of massage therapy.  All things considered I will be licensed and ready to work by 2013.

Which is why I am painting my way into skeleton country.  Its a great study trick for me as I know I learn things better when I draw them.

I also believe that the skeleton is a potent artistic symbol.  Its something we can al relate to and  project ourselves into to.  When I see them they make me feel a connection to my ancestry which I find to be very grounding and supportive of the struggle to bring my heart into the world.

Some examples (all done in acrylic paint):

Some examples:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

MFA thoughts follow-up

Hello internets,

I have some follow up thoughts to yesterdays post about my MFA experience.

I found the MFA in Creative Inquiry program challenged me to build the schematics for my own temple of art and then to try to inhabit that space as deeply as I can.  Having to balance a high artistic output with the demands of both school and life is a harrowing task.  The program's focus on seeing art making as a practice rather than a goal was very helpful in getting me to work more completely and complexly than I had before.  

Building a practice made me very aware of having to take control over how and when my creative energy unfurls.  This means even though I might get inspired to work while I am doing dishes, driving a car or being at work doesn't mean I can create just then.  Conversely, I could have all the time I want to set aside to be creative and still not have the desire to make anything. 

Navigating this took setting patterns to find ways to control the creative beast that drives my work.  When it wasn't time to work I ended up scribbling down a quick note about what my inspiration is saying to me and then realizing I had the power to tell my muse to come back later during the time I have committed to communing with it.  Then when I am sitting in my studio I have to make myself get passed my state of dissatisfied distraction and just get down to doing something related to my work even if is trivial or task oriented (aka less juicy than a full on creative blasting).  

Once school is over real life floods back in with all its challenges   Im away from the supportive network of school which was so validating as I had a group of people witnessing my process.  It made being aware of what I was working on so much richer and realer.  This boost of shared awareness made it much easier to descrive to others what I am doing and trying to do.  

But being a M.other F.***ing A.rtist means that I have developed a deeper level of commitment and engagement with my art making practice so that now it is the thing that sustains me as I have to now put in the energy to figure out how to surf the real world and walk forward into the future of my creative process.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

MFA Reflections

The MFA department at CIIS asked me to reflect on my experiences in the Creative Inquiry department and I am reposting my responses here.


-- What were the most important lessons you took away from your
experience at CIIS?

What I have taken away with me is an ability to have a vision and share it with others. The MFA degree program helped me to turn my creative output into poetry by teaching me how to creatively engage a community, work from my core and be fearlessly creative.

While at CIIS I also completed the Certification for Sound Healing.  This profound journey opened me up to a bigger understanding of what both sound and healing can be.  It gave practical tools to open my voice and engaging in deep healing in a beautiful way.  It also pushed my understanding of the way that the tools of artistic expression can support a healing experience.

--What were the challenges? What were the victories? 

When I committed to the MFA Creative Inquiry degree program the biggest struggle I faced was working out my identity as an artist in relation to my identities as a healer, teacher, lover, traveler, friend and sparkle fairy being.  Trying to define myself as something as ephemeral as "artist" felt like I was suddenly not able to see myself clearly at all.

What helped me to tease out who I was as an artist was spending two years putting all my energy into making art.  Having the supportive community of the MFA department around me to challenge me to constantly articulate what was at the core of my creative process helped me to hear myself clearly and take seriously what I was expressing.

My biggest victory then would be being able to know and state who I am as an artist.

--What are you doing now?

Now I have moved to New Orleans which is where I was living before coming to CIIS.  I feel like I have been able to come back to this city as the artist I wished I was when I first moved down here in 2007.  I have met so many interesting artists and have been able to support other people's projects as a way to explore the creative scene in this city.  Ive also been able to show some pieces in a group show of new local talent at the Big Top Gallery.

The MFA program helped me to know how to give my work the time and space it needs to develop.  To support myself I am perusing work as a holistic bodyworker.  I realized that my healing work feeds the ground of my creative spirit so I am excited to be able to reawaken the healer aspect of myself again.

--Has your experience at CIIS prepared you for the "real" world? If
so, how? If not, what would like to have gotten from the program to
better prepare you?

The MFA program helped me to clarify what I am doing as an artist and what kind of resources and space I need for my art making practice to thrive while I also balance the demands of the rest of my life.

The offering of the first year of the program was to examine what I need to set up an ideal creative situation.  Looking into who my influences were, what supports my process and what sort of other outlets I need to keep my creative juices flowing helped me to ground my awareness of myself as an artist and the sort of work I want to do.

In the second year I felt that my energy was put towards examining how I bring my art into the world.  I did a lot less art this year and was fortunate I had been given the advice to get as much work done as I could over the summer break.  When school started up again I found myself in classes that asked me to consider how I can use my artistic skills in the realm of teaching, community arts and generally being an artist in the world.  This helped me to set myself up to be ready to leave the nurturing school environment and being my real journey as an artist.

This program helped me to put down the touchstones of my core as an artist and I now I have the rest of my life to work on unravelling the fullness of my vision.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Step By Step, Day By Day

Now that I have graduated from my MFA program I have been taking time to think about what is next for me as an artist.  

For a while I thought about investing my energy into starting up selling prints and chasing money around with my art.  But that passed and I am settling into a new rhythm of creating for the purposes of exploring my creations.  

Its not that I don't want to make money from my art.  Sure that would be lovely.  But when I think about putting all my force behind the visual aspect of my work it begins to feel hollow for me.  Cause I am not just a visual artist.  What I realized during the course of my studies is that I am an interdisciplinary installation artist.  My paintings are the basic framework of my vision but there is more dimensions I need to explore.  

Ideally I want to create a contemplative sound piece (or drone) to go along with each painting.  I would want them all to be displayed in a space where the viewer can have time to sit inside some kind of sonic chamber (or put on headphones) and experience how their body reacts to the blend of color, object, story and space that I have weaved around them.  

It is gonna take time for me to work out how to pull that off.  My plan is to continue to read and explore and examine and work for the next few months.  It feels great to really know that Ill be working as an artist for the rest of my life, so I have lots of time to work out how to manifest my vision clearly.  

Alongside that I am getting back into the realm of healing arts again.  I have to take a class and pass an exam before I can work in Louisiana.  Once I do I am excited to get to work as a healer again.  I love bodies so much and as my art work is calling me to engage all of our subtle senses it will help my process very much to be channeling mass amounts of healing energy.  

I am taking a class through Blue Cliff College and I am thrilled to be part of their school.  It seems like a really supportive atmosphere to learn in and even though I only need one anatomy class I am excited to be part of their community.  And taking an anatomy class will be a fun and necessary refresher in the technicalities of how our system is structured.  

AND it will feed my art work as I have started painting skeletons as a side project.  The idea to work with skeletons has been floating around my mind since at least last January.  I feel it as a grounding of the connection to my ancestral energy that I have been growing more and more connected to.  I call them my Beautiful Bodies series.  Each skeleton shows me a different way to show off its heart.  Detail images below.  

Thats all for today.

May your body feel beautiful from the inside out.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thoughts on this whole "Goddess" thing


Goddess spirituality assumes the position of building a relationship with a living cosmos…one that is alive and aware and interactive…and that thought, I think, is the one that TERRIFIES people.  Cause it means we ain't in control and I believe brings up a fear that a living chaos would be something that could consume us all.  But I see that as very minimizing to what having a relationship with the can be. 

That fear is what, I think, keeps us from creating a world where we feel our own feelings and consider them as part of the structural basis of living life.  We are taught to see ourselves as mental spirits who are shackled to a body which is a total drain with its needs and sufferings.  When we open to our feelings we discover a whole new way of relating to the world that is intimately tied in a web of relationships.  Instead of using the signposts of feelings as guides to coming into balance we shut them off and run away into our caves and look down at the world in fear.  

We grow up in a culture (assuming that western culture = christian culture) that says if you have feelings you will be punished and separated from your community...with the understanding that any ancestors that you had that had feelings were also erased.  That is SO debilitating.  If I have learned nothing else its that having a connection to your ancestry is the most psychologically grounding thing there is.  With it we are part of a cosmological network that reaches far beyond the limits of space and time.  With out it we are dust in the wind.  

As a deity the Goddess is immanent (present) as opposed to transcendent (far away) like the patriarchal God.  When you say the word Goddess your body can feel her presence.  If you're open to it you can perceive a warm and nurturing substance holding your whole being with love.  She holds all the complexity as perfect and opens us to see the world as it is.  From there we can work from a place of grounded wisdom.

Since we meet the Goddess in our body this is why, I believe, that sexuality is so tied to this conversation.  Sex opens up all our senses and feelings and super powers and its the same energy that we use to open up spirituality.  I find the term "yoni" to be a beautiful concept because it reinforces the sacredness that is inherent in the act of using our bodies to connect with each other and/or deity/goddess/earth.

We are at the beginning of a long conversation that our collective is having.  It involves digging through our past, grieving the wounds, finding common ground, building relationship and so much supportiveness.  This perspective is so new in the cosmic sense of things as the forces in "power" have tried to keep the Goddess suppressed for so long....but she is waking up again through our awareness of her.  That we can sit here and talk about it is amazing and so necessary.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Circus, Circus, Circus shots

Here are some images of me and my work at the Circus, Circus, Circus show opening at the Big Top Gallery in New Orleans

Here you can see my paintings Alchemy (Nile River) and Flow (Mississippi River).

Also here is Permaculture (Amazon River)

Tara and I at the opening.

(all photos taken with Instagram by the lovely Kate Adair)

NOLA bound

Hello Internet,

If you didn't already know I have moved back to New Orleans to resettle and begin my life as artist in the world.  I had lived here from 2007-2009 before I went to CA to be in school.  I missed this city very much while I was away and am so grateful to be able to come back.

After a little while of going through the transitioning process I am really feeling grounded again.  I have kept up a great reading schedule and have been working on my art.

The Big Top gallery accepted three of my rivers (Mississippi, Nile and Amazon) for a group show of new artists in the city.  They will be on display all of September with lots of great events happening all the time in their space.

That's all for now...more to come!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Reception for Jenelle's MFA show

Gratitude for everyone who was able to attend!   

You all light up my life. 

Thanks also to the CIIS Minna Street Gallery for hosting the event.

(photos by Lauren, Keith and Marybeth Campion)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Body, My Voice, My Power: Burlesque, the Antidote

I am quoted in the article "My Body, My Voice, My Power: Burlesque, the Antidote" by my friend Janna Zinzi...

(Read the whole article here)

This speaks directly to some insight given to me by artist and sound healer, Jenelle Campion, and helped me understand why I thrive when working within a group of artists:
“When a community comes together to participate in an art making process, say to create a mural or a dance ritual, they are spending time together creating focus on the issues that are most important to that group of people, be that civil rights or communion with spirit.  Not only can this produce beautiful things but it also solidifies a community’s identity and social network which can only serve to strengthen bonds between people and expand its voice in the world.”
Campion, who recently released her album, “How To Heal A Broken Heart,” says that:
“…art making facilitates us being at home with ourselves which is what I believe is a primary step towards healing and self empowerment.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012