Transcendent Journeys eZine
When Tatiana Chaika was a child in Southwestern Sibera, her parents thought she should learn piano. In two years, she had eight teachers, and a ton of frustration. So when she came to American many years later and someone suggested she attend a Native American flute class, it took her seven months to finally decide she wanted to go. “If I would come to a class and it would take me a few months or weeks to make a sound correctly, I would never continue to do that,” she says. But it didn’t take her a few months. “The first time I came, people said, “You are a player, thank you!” And thus began her long love affair with the Native American flute.
“I’m trying to show people the way with flute to express themselves, because it’s a very easy instrument. It brings you into connection with Mother Earth.” She does not teach like the eight piano teachers of her youth. “It’s about communication and openness. In Russia they have a very strict pattern of teaching. You should do only what the teacher asks you to do, and not more. It’s kind of hard, especially for children, but everyone has a child inside. As soon as you help people to come back and remember they are children, everything comes out effortlessly.”
It may be even easier for Tatiana because of a special connection she seems to have to Native American culture. This diminutive, thin Russian woman with the warm smile has, at times been mistaken for a Native American by bona fide Native Americans, even when she’s not playing flute. And something about the way she plays seems to hearken to some sort of past life as a Native American.
“My third class—before they start and before they close, everyone comes to the microphone, and they play a small piece of their own music. When I came in circle to play my own music, the teacher stopped to give commands to everyone. When it was my turn, I think, “oh my god, I’ve done something wrong,” and he look at me and say “Are you Russian?” I say “Yes”. “And you never played a flute?” “Yes.” “And you never heard it before?” “No.” “HOW CAN YOU PLAY LIKE A NATIVE AMERICAN!” “I DON’T KNOW?!”
Tatiana’s spiritual education has been light years away from her life in Russia, so much so that when she went back to visit after five years in American, she found herself even unsure how to speak Russian. While she says Russians have become more comfortable exploring their spirituality in the twenty or so years since the fall of Soviet Union, they still have a different mentality. She also learned so much of her English in her spiritual life, through yoga and meditation, that it’s just a different kind of language than those in Russia are used to. Plus, Russians have a different attitude towards lifelong learning.
“In Russia, if you see someone around 45 years old, and you say, “You can learn, you can study”, they say, “Oh my God, I am already done for this life, what are you talking about?” she says. When she was near 50, a healer told Tatiana she’d live until 95, which made her reconsider a few things. “What am I going to do for the next half of life? In the next few months, I start to use rollerblades, I start to play flute, I start to study many many different things—now I want to learn to ride a horse, so many different things I wish to do.” Including continuing to teach flute.
“My flute was gifted to me by my teacher. When he bought the flute for me, I did not know what kind of flute, where to buy it, what kind of quality, and he said, “I will bring you flute.” Next time I came to class, he started to play a flute, and I just recognized this voice, and he finished and he said, “This flute is yours, it’s free for you if you will teach somebody else to play flute,” I said, “I cannot take it because I cannot promise that I will teach someone.” He said, you don’t promise, you just take it.” Till now, I’ve taught more than 40 people.” She will continue to teach in her quest to open others up to the voice they might have lost, and help them share it with the world.
The poetry in Mandragora drives deep into the humus heart of experience – spellwork, praise, story, song. From the breathless brevity of haiku through the humming rhythm of the long meditation the thread of hidden history runs, telling in mosaic the story of the occultist, the witch, the worshiper, the scholar and the celebrant. This is a work of many voices from a rich diversity of practice, each burning the wick to illuminate a piece of the Great Work. Some voices will be familiar to those readers of the first anthology, some will be new, and all are testament to a continuing dedication to the sublime and challenging work of poetic and artistic craft in our communities.
A chthonic and deeply rooted work, Mandragora is a companion volume to Scarlet Imprint's poetry anthology, Datura, and comprises nine extensive essays and the works of 48 poets. Come to LFAC's launch of Mandragora on June 2nd!
by Arianna Dawnhawk
Even at the ends of the earth, you are here, great gods.- Adapted from P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
Here the land ends
and air is the horizon of water.
The lake is center and circumference
of my city, my home.
Red library walls reach high above me:
Seshat’s fortress, watching the Loop
where Hermes’ trains move forever -
Today I roam for Wepwawet
to glimpse the city through His eyes
catching motion, carrying myself forward
as the paths open before me.
Home and heart are here,
in the space of partnership.
Hearth of memory and love,
my choice and Will.
My Lords and Ladies, I keep your shrines
and I am never alone.
Great gods, you have come to the shore of the lake,
you are known in my city,
you are known on my breath.
by Jennifer Lawrence
No prancing point-winged pastel pixies, we!
But warriors of the land, both wild and free!
With sword and spear, we fight at Volund’s side,
And with bright Freyr’s forces we shall ride.
There is no jotun, ettin, wyrm, or troll
That comes away from battle with us whole;
Of our halls’ hospitality, skalds sing;
Our mead is fit for hero, Aes, or king.
Across the farthest borders we can see
Our foes as endless as the ocean’s tide
And ready as the spider’s jaws, we bide
To scythe them all away for Hela’s fee.
Our fighters number as the blades of grass:
And while we stand, no foe shall ever pass.
Jennifer Lawrence is an obsessive gardener, herbalist, poet, walker through woods, animist, collector of animal relics, and a multi-trad pagan polytheist (Greek recon/Irish recon/heathen) with a relatively recent interest in shamanistic and cunning-folk practices.
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. John Muir, 1913
My garden is in full bloom. A full month ahead of time. Thanks in no small part to a March that was like summer. The sensual smelling Lilacs are already fading. Magnificent magnolias arrived and made it through the chill of April. Irises will bloom in the next day or two. The sleeping time of winter has passed into the green freshness of spring.
Most mornings, on my way to work, I take a moment to walk around at that sleepy predawn hour of 5 AM. The lonely light of the street lamp casts itself upon the endless variety of shapes and textures. I am still. I breath deeply. I look for the daily changes. I am amazed at the way the garden shapes itself. Plants growing where I never planted them. New plants rising. I soak it in. Smile. I head off with a warm feeling on my heart.
Much of the “modern” world has found ways to seal itself away from the natural world. Yet, even within the sealed homes and businesses humans find ways to bring nature inside. Flowers, photographs, rocks and plants (many of them actually alive). I would like to invite you to a Storytelling event I call, Hey, You, Wake Up and Smell the Roses!
Stories of different nations will help us explore humankind's relationship to the flora world. There is a rich tradition in world culture as to how plants came to be, are used to aid us, cautionary tales to ponder, to bring us peace. I will select stories from Native American, European, African and Asian countries to highlight our relationship to the Green World. There will be a few surprises and a laugh or two along the way. In the end, I hope we will all have a deeper appreciation of of the gift just outside our doors.
Come to Mark's storytelling performance "Hey, You, Wake Up and Smell the Roses!" Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 3 PM.
Mark Kater is a storyteller, who shares the humor he finds in life through the stories he tells. He studied storytelling at Emerson College Sussex, England and began his professional storytelling career in 1996. Mark is the resident storyteller at the North Park Village Nature Center in Chicago. There he leads storytelling walk-abouts through the 46 acre preserve and coordinates other storytelling activities, including an after-school storytelling program for children, summer camps, festivals and annual Tellabration event (13th year).
Mark received his BFA in dance from the University of Illinois in 1980, and studied movement therapy at Columbia College, Chicago. He performed his own modern dance choreography in Chicago at Moming and Links Hall. Mark taught and performed dance in Chicago schools with Creative Learning, Math On The Move, and GAIA Environmental Theater. Mark taught exercise at various health clubs and for many years was the Aerobics Director at Lakeshore Athletic Club in Chicago, where he piloted Lakeshore’s program during the early years of the Aerobics craze. After 24 years, Mark still teaches yoga, muscle conditioning and personal training at Lakeshore. Mark is happy to see one of his dreams manifested in the development, with his wife Sharon, of Harmony Yoga Reiki Center.
Judy Demchuk is a Chicago area artist who has been involved with LFAC since the Emergence of the Divine Feminine exhibit. She’s one of the organizers of the current Bridge to Eden exhibit. LFAC regulars may be familiar with her silk paintings and printed and painted scarves. Liz Baudler is the editor of Transcendent Journeys. This interview was conducted both in person and over email.
Liz Baudler: I’m going to start off with an obvious question: how did you get into art?
Judy Demchuk: I always loved making things as a kid, and both my parents were creative. My mom was a professional seamstress, and wanted to be a fashion designer. So she introduced me to fabrics and textures. My dad was a forklift mechanic who was always good at putting things together, but he was also a very gifted photographer. And he was a harmonica player, he played by ear. I always liked drawing, [but] when I went to college that wasn’t my first choice. I was afraid because I was thinking, “how am I going to make a living as an artist?”
So I went into computer science and I hated it. I worked in the field for about three and a half years, and I was good at it, but I just couldn’t do it. I took baby steps. I went back to school for graphic design, got a degree, and I didn’t get a job in graphic design, though I came close. I went on an interview and I got to see their portfolio, and there was this tree. They said, “oh, we hire out illustrators to draw the tree”, and just in a flash I was thinking, “I want to draw the tree, I don’t want to hire someone else to draw it!” A few days later I got a call from Commerce Publishing for a computer illustrator position. I wasn’t exactly qualified, because in graphic design, I mostly worked with photography, but I went on the interview anyway, and everything went smoothly, and they gave me an offer.
That took me closer to art, because then I took classes to improve my drawing and painting skills for the job. I was doing computer art there, and it still wasn’t the working with my hands that I loved. I went to a workshop in Park Ridge, and there was a studio there for silk painting. That was a medium that I really loved, and I created scarves for a little boutique there. Then, I got laid off at Commerce, and that’s how I ended up as a full-time artist.
LB: What is about the process of art-making, especially silk-painting, that you like so much apart from the physicality?
JD: I think that it’s just fulfilling, it’s almost meditative. I get lost in it. It’s mixing the color, it’s studying. Right now I’m working on a commission for a portrait, so I’m studying the face, and I’m always learning. I guess I love that part of it too. It never stops. It’s like, how can I make this next piece better? With each piece I do, I’m always progressing. Not that all the pieces are great. Sometimes I do pieces that are just OK, but it’s that process to get to a really great thing that helps.
I love figure drawing, I love portraits, but I love both because sometimes, when I’m working on a portrait, it’s analytical in a way. I’m studying the structure and trying to get the personality, whereas when I’m working with silkscreen, it’s a little freer. I was just creating some wraps for a gallery, working with color and texture, so it was a lot looser, more the feel. I needed to do something freer before I could get into something more analytical like a portrait.
LB: You seem like you have both an analytical side to you, having worked in computer science, but also that more artistic side.
JD: Sometimes you have an idea and you need just a little bit of the analytical. Like I wanted to do a painting of Chicago architecture, but I want the background to be a little flowing. You can do both in one piece.
LB: How is your experience of helping to organize the Bridge to Eden show different from actually being in a show?
JD: It gives me a great appreciation for all that goes into putting a show together. I’m learning a lot, seeing the other side as far as curating, hanging the show; getting the other point of view as far as what’s going through their heads as far as defining the show and what they’re looking for in artists. And while doing the write-up. I realized that my strength is more visual art.
LB: What have you been looking for in the show? I know it’s been kind of unusual with the quick timeline and multiple submission days.
JD: You know, it’s been really different. Which is good, versus being stressed. You can’t put a good show together if you’re stressed out. It wouldn’t be fun. But it’s been good. I was talking to Joan and Steve about it, how it’s almost growing, like a plant. It’s very organic in that way. What we’re looking for some sort of connection with plants, and how we co-create with the plants. And actually, part of creating the exhibit was with plants. Steve had put together lots of terrariums to go along with the paintings. When you walk into the space, [you] appreciate the beauty of the plants along with the art.
And plants are actually works of art. I think of nature as being the best artist. I look at a sunset, or I look at a tree, and you try to imitate that, but really…Nature does it best. I learned about color through nature. There were two colorists, Johannes Itten and Josef Albers, who also studied nature, and they created color theories based on it. Whenever I’m stuck with color, I’ll buy a flower, I’ll look at a tree or fruit to see what colors go together, look at the shading. I get inspired that way.
My paintings that are in Bridge to Eden were created using plants. The technique that I used was katazome, a Japanese technique that uses stencils to create the imagery. The stencils are made from mulberry paper. The sheets of mulberry paper are glued together with fermented persimmon juice. The stencil is placed on the textile and then a resist made of rice bran, rice flour and water is screened over the stencil to block out the areas that are not to be painted. Once the resist dries, water from soaked soybean is sprayed on the textile to cure the resist. So, plant-based materials are used in the process of making art. That is another quality that Joan, Steve and I would look for in a submission for this show.
LB: Do you have a favorite piece of art that you keep going back to, like you go back to nature?
JD: One of my favorite paintings is “The Song of the Lark” by Jules Brenton. It’s of this woman, she’s standing in a field, it looks like either dusk or dawn, and I think she’s she a field worker. It’s French Romanticism, it’s in the Art Institute, not a huge painting, but I think I just love it because it is very romantic. I love the lighting of it, I love the portrait, and it’s just at that period where prior to that, the aristocracy or religious leaders were the ones who had their portraits painted, not peasants. This is like a turn, an artist showing respect for the fieldworkers. The painting values all people regardless of social status, and that’s partly I why I love it.
I have a lot of favorite artists. I like Yoshitaki Amano. He’s a Japanese artist who just does very imaginative work. I also love Michelangelo’s work, how he depicts the figure. I love the Renaissance movement—all kinds of art.
LB: Do you think it’s important to be familiar with the history of art in order to create?
JD: I’ve got a huge book of Michelangelo. I love his drawings—not that I come close, but he’s a great mentor. But I don’t think it’s necessary to know the history. If you create, just create. I think we’re all artists. I think when we go to school, then we stop believing that we’re artists, but we all truly are artists.
LB: How important you think spiritual issues and practice are to your work?
JD: I don’t do anything really formal, but I do believe I’m a channel. I think artists are channels, and writers, and anyone who’s in a creative field. We’re channels to create a piece. In that respect I think art is a very spiritual act. With this portrait I say a little prayer before I do the drawing that I do, that I create this piece in honor of someone that I’m drawing.
I created some collections that pertain to spirituality directly. I created Reiki scarves. I also created some chakra scarves, as well as a white light collection in which I used color with the idea of healing through color. In addition, I created scarves and wraps with affirmations for personal empowerment. I also created scarves with inspirational quotes on them. The scarves with "I Love You" in over 100 translations were also spiritually based. I believe that love is the most powerful positive emotion. Many of the pieces that I create are with the intention of making someone feel special and connected.
JD: I want to finish a piece of a hawk I’ve been working on, which Joan and Steve mentioned [a show about] animals would be next. I’m going to finish the piece and see if it will fit [in the show]. I’ve got some unfinished pieces at home, too. I also love Chicago. One of my artist friends used to go Belmont Harbor and Montrose Harbor and paint, she’s been encouraging me to get out there. Now that summertime’s coming, maybe I’ll do that and use it as my next inspiration.
Liz Baudler: What sparked your interest in Renaissance music, and music in general?
Kellyann Binkowski: I have always had a strong interest in music from the time I can remember. I was in school choirs and began playing clarinet in grade school. I also learned how to play recorder like many elementary school children do.
My first introduction to Renaissance music was probably in High School when I auditioned for a group singing Madrigals. I began singing with the group and took the interest with me through college. When studying music in college, I had the opportunity to join my first Renaissance instrumental group playing recorders, crumhorns, and cornamuses (all renaissance instruments).
LB: A lot of times I hear a story in the songs that you play. Why do you think storytelling was so important to the music of the past, and to music today?
KB: Story telling was a much more vital part of life in past music. This was a form of communication then, especially when you consider there was no recording equipment, broadcasting, or media like today. I could only speculate that this made the stories in music a more vital part of life back in the1400-1500s. Much Celtic music is like this and is considered Renaissance music. Storytelling is definitely a big part of Irish/Scottish culture.
As with all music though, you can get a glimpse into human emotion and life that cannot be conveyed in the same manner through any other kind of medium. This makes storytelling important to today’s music as well.
LB: You seem to be a long-running act at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. What other parts of the Renaissance or medieval culture or lifestyle do you appreciate?
KB: While there’re so many parts of Renaissance culture and lifestyle people participate in today, we tend to stick with the music. Although we appreciate visiting other Renaissance Faires, attending the jousting matches, and checking out other Renaissance acts. We also plan on opening up for a Shakespeare community theater performance this summer as well.
LB: You alternate between singing and playing the recorder. Are you more comfortable with one over the other?
KB: I have alternated between singing and playing for so long, I guess I feel pretty comfortable with both. In a performance atmosphere though, I think you can convey much more with words or song sometimes. I have always felt that vocals add vitality to instrumental music as well as meaning.
LB: Have you written your own music or would you ever consider it? Why or why not?
KB: While I have written my own music in the past, I will admit to not really developing this as much. I would like to do more as time and my life permit.
Courtly Consorte does perform some original music, though. Aaron Hermann writes much music and we (Kellyann and Aaron) do perform a few of his songs during our performances outside of the Renaissance Faire (such as performances at Life Force). We appreciate being able to perform original music outside of the Faire and intend to incorporate more in the future.
LB: What’s it like to make music with your significant other? Does it change the music or the relationship?
KB: Being able to make music with your significant other is both challenging and rewarding. As with any relationship, you must learn to work together despite your differences, strengths, and weaknesses. At the same time, being able to share a love of music with your partner is special. Having music as our passion in life creates a special bond in our relationship. I feel that bond comes out in music and performance, which makes the music special as well.
LB: How do you balance being a musician with the rest of your life?
KB: As with most things in life, a delicate balance can be difficult to achieve at times. I have always considered music the medicine of life, which makes music my medicine or passion. Therefore, I incorporate music into my life as much as I can. I’ll admit it can be a juggling act. However, I feel that you must follow what is in your heart and passion for a fulfilling life.
For centuries, the Green World of plants has been the model of beauty and aesthetic form that humans in cultures worldwide have imitated in countless drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs. In addition, there are arts such as landscaping and flower arranging that utilize plants themselves as the artistic medium.
"An actual rose is the most perfect artwork," says says Joan Forest Mage, Life Force Arts Center's Executive Director, who along with Artists Steven Blaine Adams and Judy Demchuk created the concept of the exhibit. "In Bridge to Eden, we honor the Green World as a conscious, artistic creator and colleague. This raises thought-provoking issues about what is art, what is creation and who is Creator. We asked participating human artists to work from a consciousness of co-creating art together with the Green World by incorporating live plants into their artwork in safe and respectful ways. The exhibit also highlights artwork made from natural plant material: wood carving, oil on canvas, sumi ink on rice paper."Many of the pieces remind us of the human interaction with the world of vegetation, including the gifts of food, medicine, clothing, furniture and housing that plants give us. We explore how a conscious and reciprocal relationship between humans and the Green World can help us create a new Eden, an ideal place where life flourishes harmoniously.
Bridge to Eden: The Green World as Artist is the second of three art exhibits Life Force Arts Center (LFAC) is presenting that explore the theme of "animal-vegetable-mineral": humans' relationship with their fellow dwellers on Earth. In addition to the art exhibit, LFAC will present other events related to the Green World, including performances, lectures and workshops on aromatherapy, herbal healing and vegetarian cooking.
The mission of Life Force Arts Foundation (LFAF) is to present artistically excellent, spiritually based visual, literary, and performing art. We define spiritual art as art that flows from spiritual practice, art that strives to connect the audience with Spirit, and art that creates spiritual awakening, healing, or evolution. We focus on the arts as a common ground of human expression, where artists and audiences of diverse spiritual traditions can honor each other, and share their personal and collective experiences of the spiritual aspect of life. LFAF's goals are to develop spiritual artists, the spiritual arts audience, and the spiritual arts community. LFAF advances the field of spiritual art through events and publications that promote awareness of the art-spirituality connection. Life Force Arts Foundation operates Life Force Arts Center (LFAC), Chicago's spiritual art gallery and performance space, which presents visual art exhibits, dance, theater and music performances, author book signings and workshops with artists who are experts in spiritual artmaking.
LILA OF ANANDA KIRTANA features Kirtan played on the accordion with more movement and healing focus. Although the melodies and rhythms have roots in traditional Kirtan or Middle Eastern patterns, the arrangements are more organic and push the boundaries of freedom and tradition. This form developed after experiencing kirtan with many lovely groups. I felt I wanted to sing harmony, sing with freedom, be closer to the music, or throw away the chairs or cushions and move with everyone. I realized that I love Kirtan but wanted freedom from the traditional call and response structure with defined structures for singing, or forms where harmony singing is not really welcome. I wanted to shift any barrier between musician and audience, and the physical arrangement where people are either sitting, or more in the back of the room dancing. Shift anything dualistic, linear or limited, into an organic dynamic fluid arrangement. Dissolve structures so people can sing in layers, or together, or in harmony, or in response, whatever.
So I started to sink deep inside and integrate what I'd experienced with Kirtans, went to study with some folks, and then allowed the Muse to channel something new, something that feels relevant to this time here and now, to me. I felt that the accordion was perfect for this, that it allows me to play it like harmonium, but facilitate while standing. In sharing this form I realized that standing gives me more access to move around with the “audience” so we as a group can take shapes, be organic and alive, standing, dancing, moving. Also, because I'm wearing ankle percussion I can stomp out a beat while moving. I'm seeing that this encourages people to dance and stomp feet and clap hands. And have you noticed that stomping and clapping activates meridians and energy, and helps release energies to the earth? It also helps people attune to the rhythm as part of the meditation.
Another aspect of this form is the element of change. Since the chants change quickly from minor soulful with a driving beat, to light major lyrical, the point of change becomes a meditation in awareness to be present but ready for change (good skill to have for your life!!). And so the music moves in these patterns, from active vocalizing and moving, to receptive listening with instrumental music, into silent meditation where healing can happen. Like life, dark to light, light to dark, until neither this nor that, but unity melting, where all is possible!
Antar Shanti's music combines Eastern, ambient, folk, world influences informed by mantras, Buddhist meditation, shamanic ritual, kirtan, and invocations to ascended masters and the Ghandarva. Guitar, mandolin, flute, layered harmonies, ambient soundscapes from nature combine to create a soulful and meditational atmosphere.To hear music samples, and see Antar Shanti's other work in the healing performance arts, see:
At a very young age, Vivian Gutierrez found herself fascinated with poetry, and different art expressions. Her inclination toward the subject of spirituality and respect for women’s strength has always been her main subject and theme. Her preference for this subject has being extremely influenced by her mother’s fight against cancer of 39 years. She is a palette knife artist working with mixed media, oil and other materials. Her paintings and sculptures reflect her perspective on spirituality and women’s inherent qualities. She recently published a book of poems and inspirational writings, titled “Glimpses”. Liz Baudler is the editor of Transcendent Journeys. This interview was conducted over email.
Liz Baudler: How did you get started as an artist?
Vivian Gutierrez: I wish I had a magical beginning, and could say that I started painting at a young age or came from a family of well-known and talented artists. However, even though I can say that I always had a great interest in art, I started painting to win a bet with my husband. Almost ten years ago, walking through a store, he wanted to buy a painting and I told him not to get it because anybody could paint that, and he bought a canvas and told me “ok, here you go”. And so, for the first time, I ventured into painting. Of course, I learned that even a simple abstract is not as easy to paint. However I think I did a decent job, and became motivated to keep painting. I kept painting to decorate my house, and suddenly I was offered to put my paintings in galleries and I started participating in different exhibits. Since I began, I was always inclined to paint women as the subject or theme of my work. Through the years my art became my biggest teacher. Now that I look back, I can see how it developed in ways that unfolded lessons that brought me into a state of awareness of our divine nature and the feminine energy.
LB: Who or what inspires you?
VG: My inspiration stems from my mother’s life, not only as a human being, but also as a symbol of the feminine principle and her innate qualities of compassion, nurturing and love. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, when I was one year old, and she lived and struggled with cancer for almost 38 years. As a child and also as an adult I observed and absorbed every aspect of her life. Physically, she seemed weak and fragile, and at the same time she had a strength derived from love, empathy and compassion. Frequently, these qualities in her were considered weaknesses and they were belittled by a society overwhelmed by competition and an aggressive strength. That it is how I understood that we had to redefine the meaning of strength. For this we need the feminine aspect, exactly those qualities that I saw in my mother and she did not have the opportunity to empower. This understanding gave me a need or responsibility to reflect and convey, in all my creative processes, those ideals.
LB: Which is easier for you to do, poetry or art, and why?
VG: I believe that everything I do is so different and requires from me such a different disposition. Depending on the mood I am in, or the situation that surrounds me, I choose what to do and therefore they all become easy in a way. Of course, painting is more physical, and since I work with a palette knife I need extended periods of time to be able to finish each layer of my paintings. There is a lot of concentration and active energy flowing. The poetry is very relaxing and meditative, and works well when I am not inclined to stand for too long or I have a need for quiet time and silence. I also work with sculptures and jewelry, and this requires some concentration. However, I still can work on this around my family and merge the process with them.
LB: Which language do you start poems in? Do you think of them in just one language or both?
VG: I always say that the words that I perceive flowing in my mind, for me to catch and put together in this little jar called a poem, come to me in Spanish. Then I go into the conscious process of translating the poems to keep their meaning. My mind’s language is Spanish and still works that way.
LB: How does being bilingual affect your visual art?
VG: I don’t think it does. Maybe there are traces of my culture in my art and my language in the words that I use sometimes in my work. However, it is not easily perceived. I have been blessed with the opportunity to live in different places with different languages and cultures, and in each place I have lived, I learned that we all have the same dreams and needs. Therefore, my visual art and in fact all that I do goes beyond the idea of culture, language or nationality.
LB: How does your identity as a woman affect your work?
VG: It affects it completely. More than that, it is what drives my work. I based my work in the feminine principle and in women’s strength. Each of my works is intended to bring a sense of peace and harmony to the viewer like a mother’s wish to her child. To project the world I would like my kids to live in, I avoid restlessness or aggression in my work. Each of my poems are little jars of words that I keep for my kids to read as they get old enough to understand. I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, the one who cries with compassion, and the one who loves and desires a better world for all people, and my work derives from there.
- “The Divine Feminine Propels Us Onward:” The Legacy of 19th-Century Romanticism for Today’s Spiritual Seekers
- Mercury and Art: The Art Retrograde Sale
- A Magical Mystery Tour: The Music of S.J Tucker
- Excerpts From Glimpses
- The Musical Life of Brynn Mawr
- The Creative Side of Tarot
- Bringing Stones To Life
- Analytical, Poetic Astrology
- An Excerpt from Echoes of Earth: Keepers of the Mountain
- Sound the Singing Bowls
- Understanding Interceptions
- The Memory Mirror
- The Healing Sound
- Making Keys and Spirits Sing
- Softly, Ever So Gently He Comes
- The Tree's Tale: An Excerpt from The River Goddess
- What Lies Beyond
- Stones Teaching Us To Heal
- The Value of Art in Society, aka Skipping Stones
- Cauldron of Plenty and Knowledge of Old
- What is the Crystalign Method?
- Guy Spiro: 1952-2011
- New Home, New Direction
- Voices Raised in Song
- Art, Life, and a Horseshoe Nail
- "Commune With Her"--The Fellowship of Isis's Samhain Ritual
- A Sense of Community, A Sense of Fun
- A Storyteller Speaks
- Keeping Your Attitude Positive In Tough Times
- The Spirit of Isis and the Past
- True Peace Can Be Found Walking A Labyrinth
- When the Medical Profession Has No Answers
- Leaping into the Frog Directive
- The Art of Woodburning: Metaphor for Life
- Excerpts From The Frog Directive
- Lakeview Shows Off Its Art
- A Spirited Internship
- The Makings of a Moonlight Parade
- The Channel and The Painter
- Streaking Ninjas, Stealth Cello, and Salad of Doom