A Story of Creativity and Community by Shiloh Sophia
Get a cup of tea and a journal. Light a candle. Sit with us for a spell and see and hear the story an enduring legacy of art making, passed from hand to hand. Traveling throughout the world, touching thousands a month, Intentional Creativity brings new consciousness to the power of art as a tool for personal and collective healing. A Story of a Community Coming Together to Make Art and Make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
Dear Ones, We offer this homemade movie to you as as an act of love, imperfect, yet filled with intentional action. We began working on this video in 2015, but as projects go, it was a lot bigger than we thought. We weren't able to include all of the submissions at this time, or weave the story we originally thought we would. Projects have a life of their own. We did our best to include names and locations and a few dates and consider this a work in progress. Please forgive us if your stories or images were left out - we tried to focus on active members of the Guild who send submissions that went well with the unfolding theme - and tried to keep it to an hour! We bring this to you in the three year anniversary cycle of our teacher, Sue Hoya's passing into the cosmos. We hope you enjoy it and are inspired to your own work in the world.
Intentional Creativity has art ancestors the world over, as all ancient peoples created some kind of art with mindful intention. Whether that be for usefulness, beauty or story, they brought their consciousness into their art.
In our specific story of Intentional Creativity, we have a lineage of women who practiced this mindfulness in a specific way. Lenore Thomas Straus (1909-1988) who worked with the Roosevelts on giant stone sculptures articulating ideas like - what does the Preamble to the Constitution look like in stone? And then carved it. Lenore, who was the guardian and mentor of Sue Hoya Sellars (1936-2014), my teacher.
Sue would go on to inform the work of all the women in our family starting in the mid-sixties. I was born in 70 so her influence was well woven into our lives by the time I came onto the scene. Most of the women in my family are artists and teachers in our own right, however, influenced by Sue in immeasurable ways about our approach to working. Whether that was working in clay or paint, or working on the land with the animals. My cousin Bridget founded a Montessori School, my aunt Janet, is a sculptor, potter and runs a women's Tai Chi School, my sister Shannon is a writer, advocate and in the music business, and my mother Caron is a poet, designer, painter and teacher. All of us in service to art, creativity and advocacy in some way. Each of us having students, each of us becoming teachers and guides to support others on their path. I would go on to create a school to certify teachers in Intentional Creativity, called Color of Woman, named after my first book and first gallery.
Our family connection with Sue goes further back in a interesting weave of fate - as before we ever met Sue, she studied at the College of Marin. My grandmother on my father's side, Helen, gave Sue continual enrollment in the pottery program. For years. Sue credited my grandmother with giving her a space to work and develop her own work. After I was born, Sue would discover the woman who was my grandmother was the same woman who had served her in her time of need. Many ancestral layers to reveal.
In my early twenties I embarked on a major mentorship with Sue that started with a year, and continues to this day. She would teach me what Lenore taught her, to bring the deepest prayer into our work. In my case, I would bring the ideas of Intentional Creativity to hundreds of thousands of people in my career as an artist and a teacher. Indeed, a return to an idea, whose time has come again. In my mentorship we worked with clay, wood, metal, pen and ink, and paint. She would invite me to bring my prayers into whatever I was working on - and to believe it was going out into the world towards my intention. Hence, the birth of Intentional Creativity on the land in Mendocino our family still stewards to this day.
Sue was a fine artist, in that she studied painting. I would not do as well as she hoped in my skill, yet I had what she called 'a way of working'. She often laughed that my style of painting was 'drive by painting' - too quick and cavalier for her chop wood carry water approach to making art. Of course, there is always the regret that I didn't study with her more in art, but then there is the celebration that we taught together for over 15 years, serving women in our community of Cosmic Cowgirls. And deeply developing the language and understand of art as a tool for consciousness.
Since Sue passed, three years ago this month, my husband Jonathan and I have been on an excavation journey to discover more about Sue and her way of working, and a deepened interest in the impact Lenore had. In 2015, we traveled to Maryland to the Greenbelt Museum to see Lenore's show, a piece of my art was included, as well as a piece by Sue, to demonstrate what the Greenbelt Museum calls, 'enduring influence'.
Today I got the gift of speaking to Lenore's daughter, Nora, and learned of her love of Sue. Lenore became the guardian of Sue as a teen, rescuing her from severe poverty and hardship, and bringing her into a life of studying art, philosophy, literature, music and culture - and Sue would earn her way through being the babysitter. Nora said that she adored Sue, and was very protective of her, and good with children, and that she was devastated when Sue left for San Francisco. Each clue feels like a blessing, another thread in the weaving of this great work I am called to and that I call others to as well. I was so glad to hear that Nora, had a few of Sue's pieces.
In my research today I came across this excerpt from renowned author, Doris Grumbach, when she came across a quote by Lenore in a book at a friend's house in Maine.
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"I am back at work culling material for this memoir from my notebook of last summer. At Peggy Danielson’s house in East Blue Hill, where I tried to bury all thoughts of my seventieth birthday, I found a prayer the sculptor Lenore Thomas Straus had used to conclude use to conclude her book on the process of creating a stone statue, now standing in Norway:
‘O God, hold my hand that holds the tool"
Without using those precise words, I often find myself praying similarly before I sit down with my clipboard. Substitute “pen” for “tool”.
Peggy told me that in the last few days of Lenore’s life, when she was dying of cancer, she worked on tiny wax sculptures. Much reduced in size from her customary larger-than-life- heads, these little figures contrasted significantly with her heroic stones, signifying not just the diminution in her energies but her sense of how little was left to her life. Never once, having been compelled almost to give up her hold on life, did she abandon her art.
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I share this with you today, as part of my own ongoing journey to explore legacy, my part in perserving it, and my responsibility to it. As I ponder this, I think, I could spend a lifetime researching this and I have my own art to make...should I not be focusing on that more? And my answer is there, right there. Through exploring the art ancestors that made it possible for me to do this work, I am indeed deepening in my own art and my capacity to tend it in sacred manner. I rather fancy the idea of creating a Museum of Intentional Art. One must consider the ideas that light up the soul, and this does. Intentional Creating is the most potent practice I have seen to awaken consciousness. And by all means, let us proceed to wake up.
Sue and Lenore both passed at the age of 78, creating art up into the very last second. They were so identified with their art that it was the center point of every relationship. I hope I live long enough to bring my great work out, and to honor these mighty women and my mother, Caron McCloud. I am so grateful to have had these women as my teachers and know that I would not be where I am today without their work - their dedication, suffering and the beauty they bring forth in their creations.
There is still much to be written and created about in regards to Intentional Creativity - and I am at the easel and workbench continually in that ecstatic struggle to create what is possible. To be the tool itself, used by Creator.
What Intentional Creativity is:
Intentional Creativity® is a philosophy for approaching what we make. We infuse what we make with intention, through mindfulness and embodiment. This approach to making our art can be applied to any medium and any thematic topic. Anyone can use it. Anyone. Everyone uses it even if they don't call it that. Our species have always made what we make this way. Good, bad or otherwise, all stuff we make and bring into form has a level of intention.
Our work specifically, is to make this approach conscious, practice it in our art forms and the ways we live. We bring awareness to others about the impacts creating this way can have in our lives. Working with this level of awareness can cause awakening at an exponential level, as well as catalyze healing and move stuck energy. The frequency of Intentional Creativity with the power of love is having incredible impact in our communities - many claim it has been life saving.
When we make something we infuse it with our energy. As it becomes infused, it takes a charge and becomes a resonator. This charge of energy is returned back to us, based on what we put into it. This is reciprocity at the quantum level. We are recieve what we are giving instantly.
If we choose to, we can also send this same feeling energy out to others, and yes, it travels there instantly. This is quantum connection. Even after we are done with what we make, years later it can still carry the 'charge' from our intention in the molecules. This is measurable science, intention in action. And we hope, love in motion.
Intentional Creativity through focused imagination draws upon the energetic through intention with our hearts, minds, and the physical through the motions of our body as we 'commit art'
What Intentional Creativity is not:
A person, a painting, a painting style, 13 steps, a specific process, a brand, a company. Intentional Creativity is not me or you, it is all of us. (Hence Musea) Those of us who are teachers and coaches hold a practiced resonance, a frequency and teachings for how to apply it that we can share based on our experience with this work. The person is not the philosophy, but a practitioner of that idea. Their work may use Intentional Creativity, but that does not mean their style is Intentional Creativity in and of itself. Intentional Creativity as a philosophy cannot be bought or sold. It can only be given.
In addition to MUSEA: Centers for Intentional Creativity we also have our own 501c3. The Intentional Creativity Foundation preserves and illuminates an enduring legacy of four generations of art making. We provide education, research & community building, focused on creating with intention. Our field of practice and study, Intentional Creativity, is an emergent discipline combining creativity with mindfulness. Our projects to share this work with others are piloted by the global Intentional Creativity Guild.
Creating with intentional symbolism to communicate and tell story is ancient and pervasive the world over. From the Red Hand Cave paintings of Aboriginal peoples of Australia, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, Egyptian glyph and myths, Russian icons coded with story and symbol, Shaman drums painted with personal medicine, sacred theater in Ancient Greece, Black Madonna rituals like the Sous Terre in Chartres Cathedral, skin story tattoos of the Hawaiian Islands, Native American beadwork, baskets and garments, Taize Musical Worship from France, African dances for birth and death, to the modern movement of intuitive art being globally practiced – the references are truly ever-present and endless and in every culture in the world. The common red thread of telling stories across cultures, weaves us together.