January 3, 2017
Four decades ago when I lived in New York, green and ripe right out of college, the haven I called my own was housed in a cigar box. Home then was a one-room studio, a hotplate and a hand basin served as a kitchen.
Having spent my day filing invoices for a company on the Lower Eastside, I’d come home, flip open the lid of my cigar box and browse through the things that fuelled my creativity. Inside this box lay a collection of coloured pencils, a sketchbook, remnants of twigs, pressed flowers, cut-outs of Impressionist’s work, the bits and bops and keepsakes defining the archetype that continues to enrich my life’s story.
Consider me an Artist/Creator/Intellectual by archetype.
Call me a perpetual student whose curiosity about the world is boundless. Learning and creating my refuge; beauty and harmony reasons why I create. Creating, the act itself like air and water that restore me.
Years later, and having had many studios of my own, now settled in Ireland, I find this studio space exceptional.
I’ve always favoured working with images, so when I learned how to work a SLR 35mm camera, I no longer had to invent subject matter. With a living canvas of images before my eyes, I was capable of perceiving poetry within a frame.
Last year, during the month of May, I collaged my first card. Collaging my first card produced the same numinous affect I experienced through the lens of a camera. The difference being that this time the image was not just a poetic picture to be observed on a gallery wall.
My collaged card stood upright on my bureau leaning against the wall yet, I hadn’t a clue what it meant; least of all knew its name.
Though once finished, I fell in love with the image: Its mystery in black and white, of the child/angel steering a bicycle aimed at a seagull crossing the sea; images that spoke to me, had chosen me, their arrangement wed to wisdom.
Six months in Ireland and a hundred cards later, I muster enough courage and I ask what it represents. Contemplating the image, I use my voice, and write what it has to say: “I am your Artist/Creator. The Spirit that sets in motion your imagination and inspiration. I take flight like your soul. Experience the bounty; disregard the limitations others may want to impose.”
This card has been the love of my life ever since. It speaks to me from a state of being that knows the creative manifests in every act of life: Life synonymous with creativity, creativity as life; one existing because of the other and for one another.
As a professional artist, creating art is what I do. It is a talent that I’ve nurtured throughout this lifetime. It is an activity that I’ve trained in, and have had to practice, similar to how a cobbler apprentices to make shoes, and a potter practices on the wheel until the perfect vase is thrown.
The Artist/Creator is my state of being, is the nature of my archetype; it is how I see the world and the way the world reflects itself to me. Whether I chose it or it chose me, remains a mystery.
And what exactly is an archetype?
Caroline Myss, a medical intuitive and author, in her book, Archetypes, A Beginner’s Guide to Your Inner Net, describes the Artist/Creative Archetype as someone who can’t help being who she is, because, “The natural habitat of the Artist/Creative archetype is the imagination itself.”
Myss goes on to say how, “the quest for originality goes beyond desire; it is a passion, a craving and for those who are artists by profession, the driving force. Originality becomes the marker by which the Artist defines not only her work but also her identity and value as a person.”
The Artist/Creative Archetype is just one of many archetypal narratives we can choose to identify with. Universally understood, archetypes and the characteristics associated with each one has its primordial origins, defined and influenced by culture, tradition, society, myths; traits acquired from our tribes, our lineage and heritage; symbols, images, patterns of consciousness passed down from generation to generation; in other words stages of character development and behaviour we grow into and out of, as our life’s narrative sees fit.
For instance, whether we know it or not, each one of us experiences or has experienced the Warrior Archetype. This archetype exhibits great courage, persistence, tenacity; him or her unwilling, in the face of adversity, to give up.
Someone with a Warrior’s spirit might save dozens of lives fighting a war. Another person may exhibit their Warrior nature in a non-violent march for civil rights. There are those who express their inner Warrior by picketing a store, canvassing, or writing protest letters to their governor.
People raise money for a cause, bake cookies to sponsor a team, sing for their food, as well as volunteer time to support their favourite charity. Every one of these actions requiring a bit of the initiative, the fire that springs from the loins of the Warrior, who is a mover, a shaker, a true activist at heart.
Archetypes, and the ones who influence and impact our life stories, provide the lessons, supply the direction, and construct the podium from where we generate or degenerate.
In my case, whether the Artist/Creator chose me or I chose it, all I can say is creativity has been my tendency. This is how I respond to the world, to life. This is the form of expression that expresses the very best parts of me.
I acknowledge the existence of my archetypes, have made cards for their Light and Shadow sides, adding them to my Council Suit. Their energy and wisdom heard in the manner each voices its convictions; each message poignant and relevant, responding from a wisdom leagues beyond anything my little mind may conceive.
At times the energy from my Nurturer is what I need, or compassion from my Sage, or to think out-of-the-box and pull rabbits out-of-a-hat like a Magician. And sometimes the mix from various archetypes is what’s most beneficial. It all depends on the situation, and which archetype takes the lead as one yields to the other through change.
Whether awkwardly or clumsily collaged, compositionally correct, I have the freedom to choose and arrange my images however I see fit. To my knowledge this is the only type of creative process that is an actual DIY kit.
So in my studio I won’t be dumbing-down my art, or negating the part of me that I’ve imaged in my work. And I expect the same from you.
The only person who should care about what or how I paste my images on a card is me. If I’m happy with the arrangement, if the images speak to me, if something about their combination resonates in my heart and soul, who can make me wrong?