I first encountered Marcy Hall's work through her partner's blog blisschick who comments here very thoughtfully from time to time. I was delighted to follow the links that landed me at Marcy's website because I discovered an artist with a wonderful sense of playfulness to her work, while at the same time exploring very sacred themes.
I also adore her use of animals in her imagery that speak to me of the sacred power our connections to creatures have. Each animal in her work seems to occupy its own world of peace and play, while also inviting the person gazing upon the work into this world, to participate in it.
I am so pleased that Marcy agreed to particiate in my Sacred Artist Interview series:
Are you rooted in a particular faith tradition?
Not so much. I was raised as a Methodist, but it didn't really stick. I think I am pretty rooted in Christianity as a whole, though I tried for years not to be. I like to try to stay open minded (for example, I wasn't raised Catholic but there's a lot there that attracts me and the same for Buddhism), but I am, at this point in my life, actively seeking a path that is more definite and concrete. I think that having a path helps to focus and direct your life in a way that nothing else can. Cafeteria style is fine but at some point you have to decide what to put on your tray, which is only so big.
What is your primary art medium?
My primary art medium is acrylic on canvas, though I like to explore. Recently, I've branched out to painting on wood panels. I have a real drive to do more multi-media work or to incorporate sculpture in some way. But I haven't figured out how or even why to do so. I know I have to just wait and eventually it will come to me.
How do you experience the connection between spirituality and creativity?
I think they are one and the same, which is why I think I've had a hard time settling on a particular faith tradition — because I feel like too often the religions I've experienced try to separate the two by creating set-in-stone methods that are supposed to work the same way for everyone. I think our spirituality and our personal way to God is as unique as the creativity we all possess.
What role does spiritual practice have in your art-making?
Even though I don't have a particular faith tradition (for the moment!), I do believe in one basic principle, which I try to use as the guiding principle of my life: Everything is divine in some way, in some respect. I may not know how or why, but that's not important, because most things are beyond my ability to see. I try to represent this principle through my art in my own way, through the subjects I choose, the colors I use, the elements I incorporate, the words I write. My goal is to make art that celebrates life's inherent divinity and specialness.
What sparked your spiritual journey and your artistic journey?
Both my spiritual and artistic journeys are constantly sparked by each other, and both are constantly sparked by a million other things. I like to think, though I am building on what came before in both cases, that I am starting over new and fresh each day. Anything can happen. In that way, each day is an opportunity for something new to happen, big or small. Both my spiritual and creative journies are also equally sparked by trying to find my place in the world and by trying to better understand how I can contribute to the world around me. I can't contribute much if I'm not spiritually grounded (or at least seeking to become so) or if I'm not practicing my artistic gifts, which are spiritually inspired. They go hand in hand.
Do you have a particular process you use when entering into your creative work?
I do have a process that I normally follow. On the wall behind my easel and painting paraphernalia, I have an altar of sorts (just a shelf mounted on the wall) that holds a couple of candles, some pictures of loved ones (cats and people), and some other miscellaneous items of importance to me. Before I begin painting, I light my candles and remind myself not to over-analyze and not to try too hard, but to just let the images and color choices come naturally and spontaneously. I remind myself to trust my instincts and to not second guess myself. My painting room is also where my rabbit, Zoe, resides, so my creative process also involves taking a lot of snuggle breaks.
How does your art-making shape your image of God?
I've always had a favorable impression of God, and painting and living more artistically and creatively has only enhanced that impression. My art doesn't so much shape an image of God for me as much as it solidifies my connection to God. Though I've lived a long time without adhering to one particular tradition, I've never doubted God, and I think that's because I've always been creative or artistic in some way over my lifetime. Creativity and art-making show me personally that though I may not totally "get it" in the religion department, that's not ultimately what matters. What ultimately matters is that I try to do the best I can every day with whatever skills, talents, and passions I possess. I think that God is Love and Love is God, and every day is an opportunity to see the world from that perspective. For me, art is what reminds me of that when I lose my way.
Thank you so much to Marcy for sharing her insights here with us. As always, in the process of reading through the interview I found much that resonated and stirred me. Today I am especially moved by her statement of making art "that celebrates life’s inherent divinity and specialness", that each day offers to us an abundance of new possibilities, and I of course love that her creative process involves snuggle breaks with her bunny. The Abbess Petunia is often my muse as well as my reminder of the delights of love which then infuses my work. I also love Marcy's image of art-making as a way of deepening her connection to the sacred.
Make sure to visit her website to see more of her absoltuely delightful images. Also visit her Cafe Press store called Animal Dreams where you can order some of her whimsical animal art on t-shirts, cards, totes, and more.
(Images from top to bottom: Meditation, Bird Goddess, Tiger Tiger, Bridge Cat, Cherry Blossoms)