Embodiment: Honoring Ourselves as the Living Expression of Our Work by Marie Howell
September 26, 2013
“We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ~ John Lennon
We as artists, writers, dancers, musicians, and creatives of every description open more fully to our innate potential through our chosen art forms. Our paintings, poems, and songs become physical embodiments of our ideas and inspirations. And since the dictionary also defines embodiment as “one who embodies something,” so too we embrace and celebrate ourselves as the embodiment of the creative work that manifests through us. We learn to love ourselves more fully as we evolve in expressing ourselves more fully.
The word “embodiment” implies and necessitates the experience of having physical bodies to transform things from spirit to form. My clay mosaic “Divine Magic” personifies for me my embodiment as a creative being. On her chest is a tree of life that sends the roots and branches of healing into the world. Her hands are roses that allow ideas to bloom into form. She is bejeweled with crystals, jewelry, and an ornate crown, signifying the royalty of her gifts. A butterfly of transformation whispers in her ear and the keyhole next to her opens the door to all that is possible. On her skirt are the words “receive” and “joy.” She is my reminder of who and how I aspire to be.
Our bodies allow and empower us to create. I invite you to bring awareness to their miraculous abilities that make our miraculous work possible. I propose that we consciously choose to honor the bodies that bring our ideas into tangible expression. Tune into the voice of your body as you create.
You might hear things like:
“I see the whiteness of the canvas and feel its textured surface.”
“I listen to my fingers strumming the guitar strings.”
“I smell the cookies as the taste of the chocolate chips warms my tongue.”
“I stroke the computer keys and my poem appears on the screen.”
“I swirl to the pulsating beat of the drums.”
I believe our inherent creative nature rejoices when we’re consciously tuned into our bodies in the processes of painting, writing, singing, dancing, cooking, gardening, etc. We embody our work and our body makes our work possible.
How might we honor the bodies that afford us the privilege of creating?
In my own life, as I self-identify as “artist,” I’ve noticed my life choices and even my physical surroundings changing. My family room now has a teal and orange wall that compliments my painting hanging there. The items in my closet are juicier, bolder, more fun, and more me. Gone are the “safe” clothing choices of the past. In their place are dramatic styles and animal prints. There are outrageous jewelry items, worn simultaneously, even though I am told “one statement piece is enough.” My artist self has her own statements to make! She adorns her body with cool belts and funky hats that illustrate her uniqueness. Her new favorite treasure is a stunning long black trench coat, courtesy of Goodwill. It will be paired with vintage scarves with op-art designs. Comfy sexy boots are a must and her new purse is a large hippie satchel featuring a plethora of brass buckles and deeply pebbled texture. Even the exercise, eating, and resting habits of my artist self differ from those of my pre-artist self. These shifts are the direct result of my inner and outer connection with. and embodiment as, my art. It happened almost without me noticing and my gratitude is interspersed with wonder.
Your artist/writer/dancer/musician/poet embodiment is as unique as your work. What does her body crave? What clothing or accessories would help you portray yourself as who you know yourself to be or even as who you aspire to be as a creative being? Can your environment or routine be tweaked to further support your embodiment as the creator and the creation?
Being grateful for and listening to our bodies as instruments through which we gift the world amplifies our own “Divine Magic,” our connection to our sacred and real selves, our embodiment as the work we do and the lives we lead. “Anne Sexton tells us to “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” It is then that we are fully open and ready to create.
As a visual artist who paints and creates assemblage art of sacred women, I’ve come to recognize the images that come through me as bridges between spirit and form. “Ancient Wisdom” represents the shaman in me who is connected to her guides and shares her gifts with others. “She Who Knows” is my Earth Mother self who grows from a tree and has a door that opens to her soul. “Held in Her Heart” is my connection to the sacred feminine with her knowing eyes and serene gaze. “Our Lady of Expectation” is created on an African fertility mask that is a life-size representation of a pregnant mother’s body, carved from wood. She is ready to birth her grace into the world.
When we create through any discipline or media by first tuning in to our inner spirit and then bringing our creations into form, we ourselves become a bridge and our entire lives become infused with this connection. How can and do you connect to the deeper place within as you create? When you dance, journal, draw, sing, write, cook, or paint yourself into being as and through your work, how can you honor your embodiment as the bridge between spirit and form?
Ralph Waldo Emerson reminds us: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” Spirit and form live within us. The “open-hearted vision of people who embrace life” that John Lennon spoke of, lives within us. Our embodiment as a creative is within us. And so is our Divine Magic, blessing and beautifying the world with the wand of our being.
Marie Howell is a lifelong art maker, exploring both 2 D and 3D media. She integrates traditional and non-traditional techniques and materials that invite viewers into a personal encounter with the feminine image and its ability to nurture, transform, and empower. Marie is currently focusing her creative energies on acrylic painting and “assembled” sculptural collage, adding the decorative element of embellishment and adornment to both.
Marie is also passionate about exploring spiritual and personal growth. When she paints a canvas, it becomes an altar on which she rediscovers her Divine connection, her muse, and herself, all at once. She considers it a privilege to support others as they unearth their own sacred creativity through art, writing, and other means of expression.
Marie’s journey to the destination called Visionary Artist has unfolded over a lifetime. She currently lives in Phoenix, a place named for a powerful legend about resurrection and transformation which is what her life and her art are about.