“The artist as painter, sculptor, yes, but also healer and lover. The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” —James Baldwin
The Creator in each of us is so essential that when not expressed we become sick. Sadly, in our culture, the “calling” is buried, frozen, and even feared in many of us. No wonder there is so much dis-ease in our minds, bodies, and souls. I hear the lament from thousands who come to my workshops: “I stopped painting when my third grade teacher said, ‘Don’t you know that daisies aren’t blue?’” “My father would not pay for college if I studied art.” “I lost touch with my inspiration, and my paintings became stagnant when the gallery and the public wanted to buy the same look.” “I got so busy with life/survival, there was no time to paint (write, sing, make music).” Does this sound familiar?
From my perspective, the people we call “artists” are those in whom the calling has been so very deep, alive, and compelling that they could not refuse. Do or die (and many died). My broader understanding of those in whom the artist is alive includes all visionaries, inventors, and research scientists as well as painters, sculptors, photographers, dancers, musicians, actors, singers, and poets. Each of us has inclination in at least one of these modalities.
The essence of inspiration, genius, scientific discoveries, creative productions, mechanical and technical inventions are the same: call it spiritual grace. Active Source creators are and have always been the direct recipients of breakthrough knowledge, living on the cutting edge of the newest evolutionary information and images. Yes, there are art avatars who show up once in a century, but really we are all receivers of creative spiritual grace. Sadly, many of us turn off the switch.
Those whose artist-within is alive initiate evolutionary and revolutionary leaps. In my thinking, art makers are and have always been one and the same as medicine people, shamans, oracles, priests/priestesses, inspirational teachers, prophets, saints, psychics, wizards, provocateurs, and witches. These are people who keep the flame burning through the dark ages and at the same time entertain, inspire, uplift, and offer hope. (Please realize that the above description is of you; no need for grand scale or special training.)
The above sounds so noble, inspiring, alluring, and true, yet I see people constantly hold back. I hold back as well. What might be going on?
I taught art to children, all ages and socioeconomic groups in New York City and other locations for many years. I noticed that most children in our culture somewhere between age 7 to 11 stop creating from the source, at least in the arts. Even if they show special interest and/or promise by some imposed standard, they are often discouraged. (I’ll bet most destructive historical world leaders had a conflicted/repressed relationship with their creative expression.) Being an artist (allowing truth to come through you) has had a reputation fraught with challenge and financial struggle. You become either a rare star (often after your death) or barely get by. Our culture has restrictive standards of who an artist is and is not, enforced by chosen critics who are not practicing artists. Even the word “artist” suggests duality, implying there are those who are not artists. Art, like religion, has become an industry where validity and value is measured by authoritative critical acceptance and money.
Many recognized artists throughout time in our culture have paid a steep price for their calling, such as isolation, loneliness, rejection, ridicule, unrealistic expectations (the target of projections), even imprisonment and death. Being in the public eye, their contributions were always evaluated, and lauded or trashed. And when revered or put up on a pedestal for what is a natural Source-given phenomenon, the danger of ego inflation or feeling like an imposter surfaces. If the speculation that artists are prone to alcoholism, insanity, and suicide is true, is it any wonder?
While we yearn for reconnection with our true creative self, it is understandable that we also resist? Reasons addressed above are complicated and numerous. Painful early rejection of artist-self and/or unconscious fears of the perceived pain, rejection, and alienation that this authentic life will bring are just a few. And if what comes out of the paintbrush does not live up to our culturally imposed standards, we don’t even want to try. There is also the equal fear of bliss. Are we worthy? Many of us are more comfortable with pain than freedom. For too many it feels easier to go to our death repressed than dare open this Pandora’s box of shadows and passion. You can see why safe, authentic group support and trusting in the process is necessary to ferry ourselves and each other back to home port . . . fostering a saner world as well.
It becomes clear that our creative efforts come from the tender underbelly.
When these efforts are deemed unacceptable by prevailing patriarchal standards, our humanity becomes dangerously perverted. You have probably been awakened by the common nightmare of being chased by a monster. Is it possible that this pursuer who wakes us in fright is really the lost artist inside us, grown monstrous from being so long ignored and rejected? This desperate pursuer will do anything to get our attention, to wake us up (alert us) to the desperation of our rejected wild artist spirit—a blessing, although in the moment it may not feel so.
Again, I cannot overemphasize the absolute imperative that our individual and collective artist be reclaimed and healed. Fortunately, the seeds have been planted. Now is the time when we the people reclaim our birthright as artists, reclaim our direct connection to Source. The practice of creativity in the lives of more and more people will directly bring the mysteries and magic of life to more and more people. A ripple effect occurs which further opens hearts, heals the split, and reconnects people to the needs of our amazing planet earth.
Aviva Gold, MFA, MPS, CSW, ATR-BC, Art Medicine Woman has been facilitating inspired art for over 36 years and leads Painting from the Source workshops and teacher trainings in the US and internationally. PaintingFromTheSource.com