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.