Creating Feminist Shamanic Performance Art
An Inside Look at the Process from Concept to Completion
During a long absence from the studio, it became clear to me that my creative focus had expanded from combining art and writing to enhance your reading experience to creating shamanic healing performance pieces involving large scale paintings, drumming, singing, and storytelling, something I’ve done in the past, but until recently, have not been entirely focused on. On this thread I’ll share the process of creating such work with you as it evolves from concept to completion.
You may be interested to learn that because the concepts for such work have their origins in the world of mythic consciousness, wherein shamanic reality is located, their creation in physical reality rarely follows a linear timeline. That’s because time in the realm of mythic consciousness doesn’t exist in the way we conceive of it existing in physical reality. Another factor involved in making such work is that in the realm of mythic consciousness, events rarely present themselves in the kinds of “logical” sequences we expect, based upon our physical world experience.
That was the case with The Dancer and the In-Between, a performance piece that’s first in line to be completed in my painting studio, which has been reorganized to accommodate production of several large paintings simultaneously. I expect it will continue to be the case as work on the piece progresses. Assisting me with this project will be Kristen Eckmann, accomplished artist and owner of Rockport, Maine’s Action Art Gallery, and now studio assistant as well. You can expect a lot of moving forward and then backtracking, of additions and subtractions to the paintings, and changes to the accompanying story as we work, because I’ll be translating shamanic vision and journey content into physical world images and words. Another thing that may interest you is that I’ve always been able to write backwards, and to then read what I’ve written…mirror writing, I believe it’s called…and this first piece reads from right to left as well, which will make more sense when I share more about the process with you.
The Dancer and the In-Between was originally conceived of in 2018, when I did the study on a large piece of paper, with no clear idea of what it meant or what its story was. I was simply honoring powerful shamanic visions and dreams by attempting to recreate them in physical reality. I began with the intent of gessoing the paper first, but then the images took over, and the gesso became part of the image rather than its support.
The piece reincarnated itself in 2019 as a 5 x 12’ acrylic triptych, which I began painting at Action Art Gallery, then located in Rockland, Maine, an event concluding with a reading of its evolving story to a small audience.
Now, in 2022, it’s clear that this piece is the supporting backstory for two additional pieces that are still in the conceptual stage, as it tells the story of how I achieved my shamanic North, which enables me to actually create such work and infuse it with shamanic healing energies.
I’ll start here, and follow the project where mythic/shamanic consciousness leads me, accompanied by Coyote, the master of all feminist shamanic healing ceremony.
The Dancer and the In-Between: A Beginning
In the time of mystery, in the time when she was no longer exactly a child, for she had the body of a woman, but was not yet exactly a woman, either, for her female power had not yet fully developed, and so she had not yet been initiated into that particular mystery, The Dancer often retreated into the reality of her dream world.
That world was a lush landscape where inscrutable beings spoke to her; where the brilliant sun shining in the clear blue sky above illuminated certain aspects of its fecund depths; where a great serpent lay dreaming at its heart, secretly observing the Dancer through hooded lids as she dreamed.
Whenever the Dancer retreated into her numinous dream world, it appeared to others that she was sleepwalking, but she was not asleep, for although she was dreaming, she always kept one eye half open.
From beneath that one hooded lid, like the great serpent, the Dancer secretly observed the ways of the world of men into which she must one day emerge – that restless, dangerous world that most people mistakenly believed was the real and only world.
Towards the end of The Dancer’s long dream of watchful innocence, the red serpent inhabiting the lush landscape of her youthful dreaming began to stir. Slowly it stretched to its full length, and began to move sensuously, as only serpents can. The Dancer, sensing the great serpent’s powerful energy, began to stretch and move as though she were a serpent herself, reaching for the sensual pleasures of womanhood. Those inscrutable beings who had watched over her throughout her dreaming now approached, and prepared her for womanhood. She was dressed in clothes befitting her status, and her face was stained indigo with the juice of sacred berries growing in her lush dream landscape. It was then that the great serpent that inhabited the dreams of her youth began teaching her the steps of her sacred dance; the dance that would one day enable her to safely navigate the world of men. Still dreaming, the Dancer arose from among the flowers and ferns that had always sheltered her, and began to dance with the serpent.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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