At this point over 98 amazing women have gone through my Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program. I love them ALL so dearly and, like the proud creative mama that I am, want to show off their incredible wisdom, power and creative genius to the world. So I’ve created this series where once a month I will be showcasing them so that you can see what they’re up to and be inspired by their unique creative journeys.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative journey?
Art making and creativity have always been a part of my life and I give credit to an upbringing amongst artists and activists who encouraged me and rooted a belief and respect of its vital influence on both the individual and the collective. Alongside my career as a clinical social worker, facilitator and mediator, I am a community artist and deeply value the expressive arts creative process in helping me take risks, pushing the boundaries of what I think is possible. I have witnessed the stories of separation, isolation, hardship, helplessness and systemic oppression be transformed into self-awareness, protest, collaboration, thoughtfulness and action in myself and others in the context of therapy, the studio and the streets. I lead community murals, applying elements of self-expression to a beautification the community and artists alike take pride in. I teach screen printing for the purpose of political poster making, giving voice to people’s expression of resistance and finding relief in the art making process amidst the stress of movement work. In the photo I chose to share with you, I am wearing a t-shirt I made to express the rally cry of the Stonewall riots that was one of the many events that sparked the gay liberation movement fifty years ago. For most of my creative journey, I have focused on visual arts, however in recent years I have pushed this comfort zone to learn how to sing and practice drama therapy. Calling in my creativity is needed more than ever as I am called upon to be courageous and take a stand against injustice in these political times.
What initially drew you to the intuitive painting process?
I was drawn into the intuitive painting process by an officemate who encouraged me to attend a workshop in a time when I was experiencing what I fondly call a “creativity dehydration”. Parched and tired, I signed up for a week long retreat at Mountain Home Ranch in Sonoma County and whoa, I will never forget the experience of how being given permission to paint 24/7 for 6 days rendered me so joyful – it was a well that deeply quenched my thirst and revived my life.
How has intuitive painting been a transformative influence in your art and your life?
Intuitive painting has truly transformed my relationship to my creativity and has given me access to the phrase, “I love to paint!” And I truly do. For nearly 15 years, I have practiced intuitive painting to meditate, examine problems, incite curiosity, engender joy, dislodge tragedy, and engage an inner resilience to engage in the work I do in the world. I am a childhood trauma survivor and one of the greatest injuries was the disconnection from my intuition. The trust I have in myself and access to joy is consistently restored through the intuitive painting process.
What inspired you to take the Wild Heart Expressive Arts teacher training program?
The experience at my first retreat lit the fire under me to take the plunge into learning more about and practicing intuitive painting. As the first student of the Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training program, my engagement was initially about being a facilitator and became an experience of mentorship and collaboration. Chris has been a brilliant influence in my life and taught me how to hold space for all dimensions of people’s experience with utmost skill, compassion and radical acceptance. My work with intuitive painting persists through the Creative Juices Studio as assistant at retreats and teaching a monthly workshop where I invite people to learn intuitive painting and call in their creativity.
Now that you’re out there doing this work tell us about your experience as an intuitive painting teacher and facilitator?
I am inspired by the intuitive painting process and how people respond to the act of painting as a way to access their voice. One of the most compelling reasons I continue to teach is because I believe creativity is an act of resistance against all forms of oppression and is an antidote to trauma. It disrupts the message that creativity belongs only to the artist when in fact creativity belongs to all of us – it is a human right. While we fight the inner critic when we create, we also resist the external world who devalues creativity every time we pick up the brush. I am moved by people’s courage and determination as they push into what it means to be free – it is always powerful. Another reason I teach is because I love the element of painting in community as part of this practice. It is beautiful to witness and hold space for easing isolation in a creative and cooperative environment.
My greatest challenge as a facilitator is keeping up with my own arts practice – as much as a value it, it gets pushed to the margins and given over to the excuse of “I don’t have enough time.”
What advice would you give to someone who is contemplating this expressive arts/intuitive painting path?
I encourage anyone contemplating intuitive and expressive arts training to move toward it because no matter your direction in life, it will invigorate your connection to your creativity. Shoot, at the end of the day, I am a happier person because I paint – this could likely be your experience.
Working at the intersection of creativity, healing and equity, I am living into the question, “are equitable relationships possible?” and explore this question with couples, families and groups. Central to this work is an attention toward developing and utilizing an analysis of power as a core element of relationship and movement building. Currently engaged in racial justice and queer liberation movement work, I also offer anti-racism and equity coaching and curriculum development. Growing up in communities centered around radical mindset, I carry forward a social justice lens and the adage: “the personal is political”, weaving together diverse and creative practices helpful to navigating the complexities of human behavior and interrupting cycles of trauma and oppression. I extend an invitation to the Wild Heart teacher training community to be in thought partnership with me about how expressive arts and our intuitive painting practice can impact the change you want to see in the world.
To learn more about me: http://www.soulstudios.org/