Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Art I Like - Influences and Inspirations - Tara Donovan - A Cloud of Cups

Donovan, Tara.  Untitled.  2003.  Styrofoam Cups, Hot Glue.  Ace Gallery, Los Angeles.  

Tara Donavan's work inspires me because she has an interesting sense of articulation through pattern.  She takes one constructed material item (i.e., straws, plastic cups, scotch tape) and uses a proliferation of the item to create a pattern and then bends the pattern to create a new landscape that takes the material into a new dimension.  

I read an article onTara Donovan where the reviewer refers to her pieces as “sacred machinery” because her forms evoke the idea of the infinite.  I appreciate how in her work the material becomes secondary to the pattern that it creates.   

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (a longish catch-up post)

As amazing a journey my MFA program was at CIIS, it has been as amazing a journey untangling myself from the deep process experience I went through.

What I mean can be most clearly seen through the product of this journey;
my body of work Rivers. They went from rivers, to altars and are now coming back to rivers again.

When I went to CIIS it was through the Women's Spirituality Dept for a MA in philosophy. Alongside this program I signed up for the Certification in Sound Healing that was also offered through the school. I found that they were very complimentary programs to take at once. WS was walking me through the roots of embodied spirituality and SH was giving me a basketful of practical tools and perspectives to express this wisdom with. Both programs were centered around opening your voice, connecting to your heart and grounding your energy.

When the MFA program showed up at my school (it jumped over from another school that had to shut its doors) I reached out for the opportunity to claim my artist side as I was realizing that is where my passion would be best contained. I had been balancing between mystic and healer and found my voice to be coming out in colors.

I had been an abstract painter for a long while and used the chance of this MFA to push my work into devotional paintings of rivers using their maps as a framework for my creativity. It was an idea that was dancing in the back of my mind for a while and after a few stops and starts it became clear that this river metaphor was going to be the center of my work.

I wanted to keep the themes of embodiment and sound healing prominent in whatever my work was because it seemed so clear at the time that the spiritual philosophy behind these two ideas was something that was very important for me to express. So I took my paintings of river and turned them into altars using text on the sides of the canvas, a shelf of found objects and a sound drone to create a sense of sacred space.

And it worked. Or it was at least in the beginning stages of working. I love the altar and drone idea and had a beautiful time contemplating and allowing them both to come into creation. It was what I needed at the time to really feel myself growing as a artist and a person. It helped me to build a bridge between my multiple personalities of artist/healer/mystic/woman/musician/person where I felt like I could share all those pieces at once.

But now I have decided to take the altars off of the rivers and let their waters flow a little more free. Moving into post-grad school life has been a time of practical building and extreme patience. I moved to New Orleans with the intention of working towards getting my massage certification moved here. This required me to take an anatomy class to get 5 more hours in training to meet state standards, take an exam, pass a few background checks and send lots of money to the state.

It took longer then I expected but is finally over and I may start renting space at a yoga studio soon...more info to come!!!

Art wise I decided to lay low and see what happened naturally.

I finished two more river paintings during my transitioning phase into New Orleans and then decided that I will not do any new Rivers until 2014 as I needed space to figure out what to do with them. (I haven't share pix of the two new paintings....but I will soon).

I was able to get a few of my rivers in a group show at the Big Top Gallery which was a wonderful event to be part of. They also let me into their pop-up gallery in the Voodoo Music Fest which happens here around Halloween. There I sold some of these little skeleton with hearts paintings that I had started to do during my anatomy class to keep my hands busy.

This experience gave me the confidence to make them the center of my work once I was able to start selling my art in the French Quarter on Pirates Alley right after Mardi Gras ended. They have been a good hit with the touristing public. My friends and family have also been giving them alot of love as well. :)

Ive kept trying to write about the River altars but its been a struggle for me to explain what is going on it them. Then I realized that going forward I want them simply be rivers as they already represent a layered spiritual discussion without me having to build altars around them. That energy can be better applied to my writing, healing practice and the eventual workshops that I will run.

So that is where I am at right now.

Im also working out how to blog. For a minute I was going to write every weekday but I know that that is above my commitment level. But I do believe I can pull off 3 days a week of sharing my insides with the outside.

The themes I will be focusing on are:

Art I Like - Influences and Inspirations -
River Research - Maps, Charts, Imagery and Reflections -
My Practice - Self Reflections and Other Musings -
Holistic Health - Tips, Tricks and Practices -
Sound Healing - Chants, Tones and Vocal Meditations -

Looking forward to writing more.

Id love to hear if any of you have had any major shifts in your life/work lately.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

River Research - Maps, Charts, Imagery and Reflections - Rivers and Mountains

Thursdays I will be posting some kind of information about rivers.

To start I will simply share this victorian info-graphic that I find inspirational what compares the length of the rivers and height of the mountains of the world.  So beautiful.

Image borrowed from BibliOdyssey

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sound Healing - Chants, Tones and Vocal Meditations - Open into Ah

Wednesday is my Sound Healing offering day.

I made a recording of myself chanting "Ah" for 20 minutes.

This tone clears out our inner cobwebs, opens the voice and connects the heart to the cosmos.
Its like a sonic cup of coffee and is a great way to start your day.

Click here to listen to the audio

Feel free to let your voice sink into my tone or allow yourself to enjoy a harmony or do some improvisation.  When the recording is over sit quietly for a minute and feel the beautiful energy you have build around and inside your body.

Sound Healing is not about making the right sound...its about making your sound.

Let me know about your experience in sounding in the comment box below.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Holistic Health - Tips, Tricks and Practices - Epsom Salt Baths

Image borrowed from

Today I am going to write about taking a detoxifying bath.

As a healer, artists and general sensitive being I find that it is extra important to maintain practices that clear my energy field and offer nurturing experiences to my body.

Hot baths are one of the self care techniques I use regularly as it helps me to stay centered on so many levels.
The baths help to
-  ground my energy
-  soften my skin
-  are deeply relaxing
-  relieves pain and muscle cramps
-  can also help to prevent migraines 

The main ingredient I use in my baths is Epsom Salts.
This inexpensive product can be found in the beauty aisle of almost any grocery store.

The scientific name for Epsom Salts is Magnesium Sulfate which means that they are a great source of Magnesium for your body.  Soaking in a hot tub full of Epsom Salts lets it get easily absorbed through your skin.

Magnesium helps to
-  increase calcium, for strong bones
-  increase serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical
-  decrease the effects of adrenaline to balance stress levels
-  relieves pain and muscle cramps
-  improves nervous system function
-  improves the bodies ability to use insulin
-  eliminates toxins from the body

Add about 2 cups to a bath of hot water along with your favorite relaxing aromatherapy oils and soak for at least 10 minutes up to 40 minutes.  You can also add 1 cup of Baking Soda to the mix to give your skin a real luxurious treat.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Artistic Review - Influences and Inspirations. - Indigenous Australian Art

Tjutjuna, Harry.  Wangka Tjukurpa (Spiderman).  2007. 
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas. 
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, AU. 

The artwork of the traditional people of Australia look like what resonance feels like to me.  I was able to spend a semester in Australia while I was an undergrad and I saw a lot of this work in person.  The colors and lines of their art work had a visceral effect within my body as I felt like I was resonating with the designs on the canvas.   This work informs my articulation in that I am very drawn to the way that so much story comes across through the space of  colors, lines and dots.   

Thursday, April 4, 2013


This link will take you to an article by Orion Magazine (an environmental rag) about the artist Basia Iriland.  She takes blocks of ice, carves them into books, adds local seeds and lets them melt into rivers.

This dialogue raises awareness about the need to develop relationship with our local water systems and plant life to create a sustainable ecosystem where we all can thrive.

I find her work to be ethereal, sublime and necessary.

A video:

Books of Ice, by Basia Irland from Orion Magazine on Vimeo.

A quote:

"Let us, all of us, do the work of seeds—learning again how to bend toward the light, how to put down roots, how to live as a member of a community of living things. Let us do the work of books, imagining into existence new, better ways to live, seeking always what is lasting and beautiful. Let us do the work of rivers, gathering the Earth’s wisdom and carrying it like sunlight into the future. Let the power of our conviction and the new corrosiveness of our sorrow carve hard truths in the rocks."

(Thanks to Kris Brandenbruger for the link)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Repainting and Printing

I've been using my studio time for the last few days to reprint my Mississippi River painting.  I realized that I needed a way to calculate how much to charge for them for when I offer them up for sale.

When I started doing them during my MFA program I was able to create without time limits and any consideration for selling my work.  My goal was to create bigger and deeper than I had before.  I did and my rivers flowed beautifully from my brush onto the canvas and turned into altars when I added a shelf with found objects.  The altars were part of a discussion I was striving to have at the time about the sacred and embodied quality of making art that I am drawn to.

But now I want my rivers to stand on their own so the altars are being removed.  I realized that the energy that the altars held can be expressed in the form of meditation events.

The challenge of bringing my work into a professional space has asked me to put a market value on my work.  Which I realized I had no idea how to do this.  It's been easier to gauge a price for my Beautiful Bodies because their creation has been pretty straightforward.  But the rivers poured out of a long and winding journey which I don't know how to quantify.

So I decided to recreate one.  It's been really great to journey back into this creative space.  It opened up all kinds of memories and feelings from my 3 year California experience.

The Mississippi River was the first one I created so it seemed like the right one to repaint.  It took about 20 hours total to recreate which feels about right.  This puts the price for the paintings at about $700 in my mind.  I also on the verge of making prints of a few of my river paintings so that I can have those available for people who would be interested in a cheaper option.

It feels real good to be letting my rivers flow out into the world.

Mississippi River, 2010
(photos by Glen Graves)