In each art exhibition I have done of late, there appears to be one archetypal image that speaks to people. During my last show it was a photograph entitled Blue Dress, which was taken in Mississippi in an abandoned house during our sabbatical in 2002. I sold the original print on opening night and so many people wanted a copy, I decided to create a Limited Edition Fine Art Giclee Series of the image.
Many women came to me and spoke of their attraction to this image, but did not "understand" why. One woman said it reminded her of the exact dress her
mother wore in an image she has of her wedding day, even though her mother’s dress was not blue. I
understood this from a larger perspective, that of the archetypal image. The language of myth and the collective
What is an archetypal image? They are symbols that occur in and throughout time and are often repetitive in nature. They often represent content within the psyche that speaks to us in an unconscious way. When the archetypes surface as conscious images, they do so in the form of images, figures and icons.
C. G. Jung believed that archetypes are collective and therefore part of everyone’s psyche. Ultimately they are a universal phenomenon and part of the collective unconscious. In simpler language, an archetypal image generally speaks to our soul and captures feelings and emotions that we may not be able to tap into in a conscious way. This is why I believe art and creativity speak their own language. A language that our intellectual mind can’t always rationalize or reason.
Heart on Her Sleeve apparently is another of those iconic images. The original mixed-media canvas sold from my studio before I was able to hand it in the show. Several people have contacted me to purchase the image, so I am once again creating a Limited Edition Fine Art Giclee Print series.
As artist’s we are very familiar with archetypal images. I don’t "plan" my art. As an expressive arts therapist I have an aversion to that way of working. It works for some, but it is not the way I create. that is what makes the world go round…we all have unique ways in which we approach things. Even if we begin with an idea, the journey of the artist is to bring forth imagery that speaks the language of our souls. It would be easy to try and "think" about what our clients might want, yet in so many ways, that defeats the purpose of what we do in the world. It would be cheating ourselves of the space to create from our hearts and to indulge in the true creative process, where time and space have no meaning.
The Create It Challenge: Take some time in your studio this week to create a piece that begins with a feeling, not a thought or an idea. Create your own archetypal image…you might be surprised to see what shows up. Feel free to let us know what you have discovered by posting a comment or two.