Arte of Now: Practice of Immediacy in the Arts (PIA) is about freeing up creativity by
allowing everything that shows up in one’s inner and outer environment to be included in
the artistic process. In that sense my audience is all those people who are interested in
expanding theirs or others’ creativity. It’s also an awareness practice as one’s awareness is broadened naturally and is refined as one engages in PIA.
Immediacy in the Arts? Or were there several “sparks” along the way?
I had an experience in the mid-1990’s during a Stan Grof holotropic breath workshop
where all my energy centers lined up from the base of my spine to the top of my head.
Suddenly a powerful current of creative energy passed from the top of my head down
through all the centers. In my mind’s eye, it ran around the world and returned to me. I
had no idea what this meant and began a journey to learn more about this creative force.
practice of immediacy. How do you see this relationship between your art, Zen
meditation, and PIA? Did one path influence the other, or were they mutually influential?
I began formal Zen training in 1980, drove to LA to work with my teacher every week,
and participated in 6-7 week-long retreats/year. In order to do Zen training, something
had to give as I was also married, raising a family and working. So I temporarily put
aside creating art other than my beading. I received Dharma Transmission in 1995 from
Maezumi Roshi. After that, my pent-up creativity wanted a larger venue than beading,
and I went back to painting. The years of meditation (zazen) and koan practice (ex:
‘what’s the sound of one hand clapping’) had developed many of the qualities that were a
natural fit when PIA emerged into my world: not knowing, letting go, including
development of PIA. You have also trained with shamans. How did each of these give
you insight into PIA? Other kinds of training that deepened your insight?
I began training with Hal and Sidra Stone, who developed Voice Dialogue, in 1980 at the same time that I began Zen training. Voice Dialogue is a trans-cultural psycho-spiritual approach to consciousness that facilitates access to many different states of mind and archetypal energies. As I wanted to learn what PIA was about, Voice Dialogue was a method I used. Two different times, with a pen and paper at hand, I physically moved over to the voice of PIA and began writing down what was coming through — both times the words emerged in poetic form.
I trained with a shaman from 2000-2007 and learned how to journey with drumming.
Journeying is a non-ordinary state where one suspends the rational mind and can access a
deep wealth of understanding. I did 3 vision quests as well as other trainings, including
learning a profoundly new relationship with the natural world. Both Zen and the
shamanic approach cultivate awareness, openness and not knowing — essential
ingredients in further grounding PIA.
Also, being a mother, spouse and grandmother have deepened my understanding of PIA.
For example, I find the medium in which I’d like to work and follow the PIA directions
of not knowing, including whatever is happening in my awareness within and without
including expectations of any kind. If my relationships are stressed, the thoughts and
feelings about that are included in PIA plus the sounds of a bird chirping, the smell of
food, a car going by — everything in my awareness within and without is included. If a
creative flow emerges out of the cacophony of the moment, then the whole thing can turn
into a work of art or just be messy. Regardless, my awareness consistently shifts to a
much broader, inclusive way than where I began.
paintings, twenty-five in Part Two and ten in Part Four. You call these reproductions
“Visual Examples.” Why? And why in two different sections?
one’s creativity. My 25 paintings in Part II are called ‘visual examples’ as I’m using the
medium of acrylic paints. Part II are PIA done in one sitting. They are ‘pure PIA’ as
they are made up of what’s unfolding now and are never altered.
Part IV consists of Revised PIA (PIA+) as they are PIA that have been altered. That
means I’m making artistic decisions to change the original PIA — sometimes they are
small changes and other times quite a lot has been changed from the original.
Also, representational artists can use PIA as a method to break through a creative block
and then go back to their representational piece and see it in a new way. This is also true
for writers, musicians and dancers.
you believe everyone has this need to create, that it is intrinsic?
To create comes from the Latin “creare: to make, bring forth, produce, beget.” In that
sense, yes, my overall view is that we are creating our lives all the time. An intrinsic
need to create includes, cooking, relationships, child rearing, gardening, sewing,
business, making money, teaching — whatever we’re producing. Specifically, many
people are inhibited from creating works of art as their inner squasher or critic is
constantly assessing the value of what is being created, and is often such a diminishing
inner voice that people give up rather than endure the criticism and feelings of
humiliation. In my own case, I struggled with this critical voice but in practicing with the
directions for PIA, I began making visual and written art that I would never have thought
of creating before. PIA includes what’s occurring now — that means including the
squasher rather than being stopped by the criticism. By using PIA, the experience of
being creative can be very satisfying, bringing a sense of well-being, openness, fun, a
movement of energy, expansion, while also cultivating awareness.
are now, that is, as the author of Arte of Now: Practice of Immediacy in the Arts?
Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung
Appreciate Your Life by Taizan Maezumi Roshi
Dogen Zenji’s Time-Being in Moon in a Dew Drop edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi
Zen Koan books: The Gateless Gate, The Blue Cliff Record, The Book of Equanimity, The Transmission of the Light
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
Embracing Ourselves by Sidra and Hal Stone
Big Mind Big Heart by Dennis Genpo Merzel
Upon reading Dogen Zenji’s Being Time (also translated as Time-Being), I had a
paradigm shift in how I look at the creativity inherent in every moment. I’m also very
interested in the neurobiology of creativity — I’ve read articles about it but have not
found a book for lay people yet.
and the world?
When I was 15, living in Mexico City, our neighbors, who were moving, gave me a box
full of books. Carl Jung’s book Man and His Symbols was in the box. That book had a profound effect on me. I read it over and over and still feel gratitude to Jung for his insights about human beings, cultures, traditions of all kind, the shadow, psyche, et al. He also chose powerful pictures that expanded the impact of his words. Man and His Symbols was a seminal book for me and was influential in directing me toward the paths I would later walk in my life. I find books to be a treasure trove.
would inspire a young person who wants to be a writer?
I feel there’s a ripening process before writing a book. It took me 2 years before I was
ready. And it was essential for me to create the time and space to write. I began by
taking a week off and rented a friend’s empty apartment for a week so I would be
undisturbed. The structure of Arte of Now: Practice of Immediacy in the Arts emerged
the first night I began writing. I spent 6-7 hours/day to flesh it out and then spent months
rewriting and editing at home. But without that initial concentrated week effort, my
sense is that the experience of writing the book would have been very different. I also
asked 5 people to give me honest feedback about what I was writing. It’s very helpful to
read what you’ve written out loud — doing so can help you recognize and trust your
own voice, your vision for your work. And if you get stuck, PIA is so helpful to move
through the flat places and the stuck places.