Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Artistic Inspiration: Witchery

Touch with
--my personal definition

Witchy <3 2012="" 6="" acrylic="" canvas="" on="" td="" x="">

My "witchy" practices include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, prayer, seasonal and moon rituals, chanting and singing, cultivating gratitude, eating nourishing foods, maintaining psychic protection, spending time in nature, communing with and learning about my ancestry, moments of rest and reflection, cleansing emotional blocks, setting clear boundaries and goals, learning from teachers and elders, serving my community, listening to my inner wisdom, making art, random acts of generosity and celebrating my joys and successes.

Growing up I was lucky enough to volunteer at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire which was owned and operated by the family of one of the teachers at my high school.  This allowed for a small clan of my classmates to spend our summer playing in this mystical world created by a community alternatively minded folks.  While I was raised Catholic it never inspired me the way that stories of mystics and goddess mythology had done as I had started reading books about wicca and other European magical traditions while I was in middle school.  This led me to read more and more about the different types of shamanism and magic, attend a variety of workshops and rituals and to take on a few trainings in energy healing and the craft of ritual work with various teachers.

Witch riding a Unicorn and Magic comes from my heart
each 8" x 12", acrylic on canvas, 2014

Jumping 2009 I left New Orleans to live in Oakland California and attend a graduate school in San Francisco called the California Institute of Integral Studies.  I was enrolled in a masters degree program in Women's Spirituality for which I was very excited.  I had originally been drawn to the school's Somatic Psychology department but had changed my course of study at the open house I attended because I discovered that this department existed.  Ive been reading books about submerged histories, pagan spirituality and radical politics all my life and to be sitting in a room with the women who authored many of those book was thrilling.  The first thing we did in the open house meeting was pass around a deck of tarot cards.  Soon afterwards I filled out my application and was accepted to start in the fall.

Throughout my studies that first semester I was shown a visionary way of viewing the role of women and in the world.  We talked about the global existence and destruction of a women's ritual culture which practiced an earth based and embodied spirituality and how that related to modern and indigenous spiritual cultures.  It was through this course of study that I learned about the work of Marija Gimbutas, a Lithuanian American archeologist who is known for her research on neolithic cultures of "Old Europe", whose work opened me up to a visual language encoded on ancient goddess statues.  Dots, lines, dashes and squiggles told the story of cosmological renewal and regeneration.  Read more about her work here and the backlash to her work here.

Follow your star, 8" x 12", acrylic on canvas, 2014

For my artist side this information was an electric current of energy which sparked my ambition to explore my own expressions of connection to the world through an abstracted visual style.  This urge would be part of what propelled me to step away from the Women's Spirituality department in favor of CIIS's Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Inquiry.  I developed my thesis project, Rivers, as a way to use the infrastructure of a map of a river to pour my own stream of creative textures onto a canvas to which I then added text and a shelf of found object to turn the paintings into art altars.  Looking back now I can see that my project was a practice in discovering my own artistic language to express and demonstrate my spiritual connection to the earth and my own creativity.

Jenelle Leigh Campion's MFA show at the CIIS Minna Gallery 2012 Photo: Glen Graves

Prayerful, acrylic on canvas, 6" x 8" oval, 2015

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