Blog #4B Selfhood/Breathing

Anavami Center

Exploring Selfhood through marking we incorporated our prints from last week of persona and shadow. We opened with an invocation from Undefended Love by Jett Psaris and Marlen Lyons…

Blog #4B Selfhood/BreathingBlog #4B Selfhood/BreathingIntimacy—direct, unmediated, heart-to-heart connection with ourselves and with others—can only occur when the heart is undefended. To cut through our personal differences, to reach the unveiled part of ourselves that is deep enough to express the most profound and untamed aspects of our being means learning how to love and be loved without defenses and without obstructions. It means cultivating the capacity to be emotionally present even when we feel exposed or vulnerable; learning to relinquish the many strategies we have employed to feel safe and in control; and finding the courage to love without guarantees or requirements. Through developing the capacity for intimacy in this way, we discover love is an abiding presence in the emotional center of our being, our heart and we can never feel emotionally disconnected, incomplete, or unloved.

Selfhood implies a level of maturity that identifies with a larger sphere. To guide us to this understanding we took the time for conscious breathing over and extended period showing and feeling how the exhale and inhale are distinct yet intimately a part of a whole that does not work without total union. Just as in breathing, selfhood denotes a larger container beyond cultural beliefs, national identity, age and occupation. It includes our character holding all the other selves.

We all explored selfhood in our own way, through sensing, remembering a peak experience that informed the larger self or simply by trusting our marking to reveal something that has been concealed. Most of us worked in the format of triptych which offered a sense of the temporal and/or change in space. In my own work I have found working in a series in the diptych or triptych format, where the pieces inform each other, additional nuances to appear. It is a way of add another ball to those that I juggle which focuses my concentration that often develops content vertically, as well as horizontally. It requires an attitude of reciprocal yielding and loosening of control.

Click on thumbnail to see full size image. Majio



Blog #4A Persona/Shadow

Anavami Center

This week we investigate persona, our social role as the appearance one presents to the world. Personal is with what we most identify but have you ever watched yourself walk into a room through the eyes of others? When we see our persona from the outside with how others see us a new identifying shapes from how we are seen and how others respond to us. We explored marking through these personas with a couple of techniques that highlighted the object/subject split. We first did touch printing using both hands at the same time to print with our fingers and hands by touching the surface of a paper laid on an inked plate. The intention was to sense the face and body of our person, not depicting or representing but rather getting in touch with it, literally and figuratively.  One more sentence on results.

Blog #4A Persona/Shadow

cut masks for printing

Our meditation was from David Whyte, Consolations-Shadow

Shadow does not exist by itself, it is cast, by a real physical body…it is shaped by presence; presence comes a priori to our flaws and absences. To change the shape of ourselves is to change the shape of the shadow we cast… Shadow is a necessary consequence of being in a sun lit visible world, but it is not a central identity, or a power waiting to overwhelm us.

To live with our shadow is to understand how human beings live at a frontier between light and dark; and to approach the central difficulty, that there is no possibility of a lighted perfection in this life; that the attempt to create it is often the attempt to be held unaccountable…

Blog #4A Persona/Shadow

monoprints from masks

We cannot talk about persona without talking about this shadow, that aspect of ourselves that we can easily see in others but with which we do not often identify. This includes the bright shadow or that brilliant and whole part of us that is often projected onto others or into the future but which we do not embrace in the now. 

Blog #4A Persona/Shadow

Print with mask and touch marking

We used printing masks to explore the shadow self and in preparation we looked at our literal shadow projected on a wall or floor with a strong light behind us. We took photos of different attitudes and postures, especially those we usually do not show to others. From these photos we made drawings the size of the printed paper which we cut out to create a mask, an area that blocks the ink when laid on the inked plate. We went with larger shapes with no ink so we could print over or into with touch markings. Following are some of the pieces from the group’s printing of touch-marking and shadow printing.

Click on thumbnail to see full size image. Majio



Shadows, Markings, and Synesthesia

Anavami Center

Transformational Painting Circles

On Fridays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Join us in large format acrylic painting sessions getting in touch which our instinctual side. Moving beyond the Skeleton Woman Story to the medial partnership.

Marking Session at Studio & on Zoom:
In-Bodying the Field: 6 months of Mark-making from January

We are exploring mark-making as a medium to change how we have learned to perceive reality. Marking in this sense is an exchange, an interaction as marks must be received as well as made, whether on paper, a city road or in a conversation.

Books of Interest:

The Coddling of the American Mind, by Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff
This is a book for anyone who is confused by what’s happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live and work and cooperate across party lines.

Fabric of Wholeness: Biological Intelligence and Relational Gravity, Carol Agneessens, through experiential dialogues, draws us into the body to view the pulsating and vital interplay. She concludes that gravity is fundamental to the development of biological intelligence — the glue that holds together and organizes our fabric of wholeness.

Websites of Interest:, collective imagining to increase radical kinship with the human and more-than-human worlds, present, past and future.
Paintings by Pamela Holmes

December Sidebar

Retreat 2022:

San Miguel de Allende Fall, accepting registration.

Shadows, Markings, and Synesthesia

Paper ‘mask’ used in monoprint

In Anavami Studio we see marking, not only as a foundation of the visual arts but as metaphor and at the same time an appearance of our relationship with the world. We are exploring mark-making as a medium to change how we have learned to perceive reality. Marking in this sense is an exchange, an interaction as marks must be received as well as made, whether on paper, a city road or in a conversation.

Our working definition of mark-making is leaving a residue or impression with movement or pressure. This can be any kind of physical trace, but also a mark can be left on one’s emotions, intellect or psyche. Marks are conduits of information as they are ways of interrelating not in the world but with the world. Our marks are informed by the very matrix in which we live. The greater field is alive, impressing on us as we in turn to press back leaving marks. There is a mutual yielding as well as a mutual learning, as we exchange information. This yielding is more than allowing. It requires an ability to give as well as receive. Just as in traffic sign, yield involves a slowing our trajectory in order to be aware of others movement and speed, which everything in the Universe has. It is a different dynamic to halt at a stop signs where you expect to take turns. The giving and receiving in mark-making as in traffic has consequences.

Monoprint using ‘mask’

I would also suggest that marks are not flat two-dimensional residue on a surface but more like your shadow stretching before you, deep blue on the asphalt. That shadow fills the space between you and the elongated mark staining the street. It is actually voluminous. When something enters the space between you and the pavement, a cat or fire engine, in the moment it is changed. Their light is disturbed. There is a vulnerability in the distance the shadow travels. There is a life force in that volume, a textural signature of its source. Like the mark it is porous, open to vicissitudes of the time and place. It could even be said to have an intelligence. There is more intelligence around us than we are like to recognize. In times of crisis an extended understanding of intelligence is valuable.

In Hidden Blessings, Psaris talks about life crisis, no matter the age as an opportunity to awaken. She goes on to say that the success of any life-crisis-transformation depends on our ability to allow the soul (ourselves) to evolve beyond the ego structure encasing it. Our ego is not only anthropocentric, judging intelligence and power as human based but also biocentric, projecting that only living things have consequence especially is they are human.

Print from folded ‘mask’

Just as habit does not recognize the volume of a shadow ego is blinded to the psychological function of its shadow, a metaphor and expanded perspectives. At this time in history, our world is in crisis with the need of sweeping new perspective. For most of us the best thing that we can do is tend our own garden, which in actuality calls for persistent courage to redefine our place in the world. Crisis asks for marks of a new order that stretch habits of identification. The ego’s shadow does not see what it is projecting on others without careful scrutiny. In shadow work we see how anything that riles us has much more to do with ourselves than the other. We can only see, literally and figuratively, the fullness of our shadow through imagination.

To tweak those perception that are so ingrained we need to cultivate the imaginal domain. It is much more a part of our life than we acknowledge. Dream worker, Jeremy Taylor described that space between conscious and unconscious as not-yet-speech-ripe. We know but it takes imagination to bring it to consciousness. The more that we call on the space between knowing and not knowing the more that it is available. In this province, as witnessed in any craft that reaches artistry, fundamental truths brought to vision. Marking is more than the flatness of streaks and strokes on a page. There is a qualitative difference between a shopping list or a poem.. And yet there are poems that are really shopping lists and shopping lists that are poem depending on how the imaginal is sparked.

Not imagination but the imaginal realm stretches our senses. In synesthesia, a neurological condition, information meant to stimulate one senses instead stimulates a different one altogether or several —music is seen in colors, architecture has a taste, or sound appears as shapes. We all have a little bit of this, for the channels are informing each other far beyond our expectations and habits. We expand our sensitivities in the imaginal, which adds another layer of information and relationship to how we exchange with our world. The volume of shadow, yielding as a way of encountering the world, the extended understanding of intelligence and crisis as opportunity are all ways of create by changing how we perceive reality.

(A mask is used in printing to block the ink from the plate to the paper. The shape of the mask was from the photograph of the shadows of two people standing together.)


These two diptychs incorporate pieces torn from the earlier prints as way of developing and finessing the image in collaboration with the field.