The MFA department at CIIS asked me to reflect on my experiences in the Creative Inquiry department and I am reposting my responses here.
— What were the most important lessons you took away from your
experience at CIIS?
What I have taken away with me is an ability to have a vision and share it with others. The MFA degree program helped me to turn my creative output into poetry by teaching me how to creatively engage a community, work from my core and be fearlessly creative.
While at CIIS I also completed the Certification for Sound Healing. This profound journey opened me up to a bigger understanding of what both sound and healing can be. It gave practical tools to open my voice and engaging in deep healing in a beautiful way. It also pushed my understanding of the way that the tools of artistic expression can support a healing experience.
–What were the challenges? What were the victories?
When I committed to the MFA Creative Inquiry degree program the biggest struggle I faced was working out my identity as an artist in relation to my identities as a healer, teacher, lover, traveler, friend and sparkle fairy being. Trying to define myself as something as ephemeral as “artist” felt like I was suddenly not able to see myself clearly at all.
What helped me to tease out who I was as an artist was spending two years putting all my energy into making art. Having the supportive community of the MFA department around me to challenge me to constantly articulate what was at the core of my creative process helped me to hear myself clearly and take seriously what I was expressing.
My biggest victory then would be being able to know and state who I am as an artist.
–What are you doing now?
Now I have moved to New Orleans which is where I was living before coming to CIIS. I feel like I have been able to come back to this city as the artist I wished I was when I first moved down here in 2007. I have met so many interesting artists and have been able to support other people’s projects as a way to explore the creative scene in this city. Ive also been able to show some pieces in a group show of new local talent at the Big Top Gallery.
The MFA program helped me to know how to give my work the time and space it needs to develop. To support myself I am perusing work as a holistic bodyworker. I realized that my healing work feeds the ground of my creative spirit so I am excited to be able to reawaken the healer aspect of myself again.
–Has your experience at CIIS prepared you for the “real” world? If
so, how? If not, what would like to have gotten from the program to
better prepare you?
The MFA program helped me to clarify what I am doing as an artist and what kind of resources and space I need for my art making practice to thrive while I also balance the demands of the rest of my life.
The offering of the first year of the program was to examine what I need to set up an ideal creative situation. Looking into who my influences were, what supports my process and what sort of other outlets I need to keep my creative juices flowing helped me to ground my awareness of myself as an artist and the sort of work I want to do.
In the second year I felt that my energy was put towards examining how I bring my art into the world. I did a lot less art this year and was fortunate I had been given the advice to get as much work done as I could over the summer break. When school started up again I found myself in classes that asked me to consider how I can use my artistic skills in the realm of teaching, community arts and generally being an artist in the world. This helped me to set myself up to be ready to leave the nurturing school environment and being my real journey as an artist.
This program helped me to put down the touchstones of my core as an artist and I now I have the rest of my life to work on unravelling the fullness of my vision.