Monday, January 21, 2008

Interview With Caterina (Soul Arte Eclectica)

I've recently had the pleasure of meeting Caterina through the internet and the Visual Arts Street Team and am honored to have her volunteer to be interviewed for this blog.

While Caterina's shoes might be boring (she wears mostly Birkenstocks--solid, connected to the earth--because of hip replacement and a lot of back problems), she wears many hats--with varied and oh, so interesting experiences. "The hats I wear metaphorically span many creative ventures and avenues," she tells me. "I've been creating art my whole life."

As an only child, Caterina used art to cope with loneliness and the difficulties of having a congenital heart condition. Frequent visits to the hospital kept her from attending school regularly. "Art became my friend, my healing companion and the way I gained recognition and support. It helped me to develop a rich inner imaginal world."

At age thirteen, Caterina had open-heart surgery. Art took the back burner, but was always there when she was going through inner changes. "I always knew I would be an artist as an adult," she says, though art lead her through many circumnavigations before leading her to art therapy.

As an art therapist, Caterina has taught classes and facilitated groups with all kinds of folks who were longing to find their way in this world. "Art opened doors for them."

For over 27 years Caterina taught creative process classes at a junior college in Santa Rosa and was deeply touched by her work with students in the Disability Resources Department. "I was continually inspired by individuals whose lives gave them unbelievable challenges, and how with some guidance and opportunity to experience the process of art without judgment, their lives transformed. They were able to envision new possibilities for themselves."

Caterina has personally explored many art media. She is jeweler, weaver, seamstress, ceramic artist and painter. As a craftsperson, she's sold at fairs for many years. "My exploration of so many media allows me to facilitate others in any art process they are called to." This exploration has personally lead Caterina to her love of mixed media collage: combining very different elements, images and approaches to allow spontaneous imagery to emerge."

Ultimately, this exploration has lead Caterina to her newest love with encaustic painting. "Over the years I have come to realize that more than anything I am rich in images. My abundance in life comes from my art, and my art had work to do out in the world."

"There is a belief," Caterina continues, "in some proponents of art therapy, that the images live, speak and have a life of their own. That art is medicine and the images are like angels. I find myself drawn to that belief, and know that it is now time for my imagery to go out into the world and touch others."

Caterina is the inspiration and creative force behind Soul Arte Eclectica on Etsy. You'll find encaustic paintings, collage/mixed media, mandalas (prints), watercolors, art cards and ACEO's (small art) available in her shop.

Mandalas are a particularly personal part of Caterina's work. Some of them take days, even months to complete. Creating mandalas is an ancient art process used "as a way to find our center and create balance in our lives." This is a slow, deeply meditative art process that "allows us the opportunity to open to the moment and create personal sanctuary through art making." This process shifts the artist’s perspective and allows transformation to occur. "The most important part of the mandala process is the healing centering experience of creating them. They are truly about the process and not the product." The originals of Caterina’s mandalas are not for sale (how would you even begin to put a price on such a deeply personal experience?). Some of the mandalas, however, are so lovely and powerful she does have prints available in her shop. Caterina is a facilitator of the Illuminated Mandala Process and trained under Judith Cornell. More about mandalas and this process may be found on Caterina’s website.

Whether in their original form or prints, Caterina's images, "go beyond the personal, and touch the transpersonal. They uplift, inspire and lead others to insight." Although her pieces have personal significance, she tries not to interpret them. "They can do their work in the world just by being seen."

To Caterina, the process of art making is inspirational: a process of active, dynamic meditation that leads her inward on a journey of discovery. "Each media and image becomes a narrative story line synchronistic, or rather coincidental in a meaningful way...the mystery of the mythic realm revealed momentarily." She draws inspiration from nature, primarily, primitive or indigenous art, world events and the beauty of simple everyday pleasures.

When life throws her challenges, Caterina takes time to process free art around what's up and create images envisioning the resolution or healing of the situation. "Art is my medicine.

Caterina, like Ahna (Lucky Duck Designs interviewed previously on this blog), totally recommends Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Eat, Pray, Love." Pivotal books for her are "No More Second Hand Art" by Peter London, and "Trust the Process" by Shaun McNiff. "I have used each of these books in my classes over the years, and they have actually changed people's lives. They each in their own way show how art making is part of every aspect of our lives and is significant and important for everyone, if done authentically."

Music also plays an important role in the creative process. Caterina loves world music. Two CD's she plays over and over (and constantly requested by the women in art support groups): "Hidden Sky" by Jami Seiber and "Praises to the World" by Jennifer Berezen. "These are absolute musts for diving into art making on a deep level."

Caterina's website focuses on her work, classes, and workshops as an art therapist. For over 15 years she had a community art studio and lead classes, open studios and the like. She no longer has a large public studio, but a private one in a converted garage where she still works with others and does her own work.

Caterina's blog started as a way to promote her classes and students' artwork, now serves as "a place for me to put my art out there."

Caterina also has an online portfolio and Cafe Press shop.

As you can see (and feel), art making touches Caterina deeply and brings joy into her life and all who witness it. "Art making," she says, "has allowed me to catch glimpses of universal truths."



Beautiful story, beautiful work!

SuzeesJubileeZ said...

What wonderful idea to interview artists and share their inspirational stories. Thank you!

dianeclancy said...

Hi Janyce and Caterina,

I loved reading this. I also appreciate hearing about other artists who have been dealing with health issues for a long time and end up with spiritual art.

Thank you!

~ Diane Clancy