For the next two posts in this project, I’m sharing how certain places (Texas on Day 11 and Guatemala on Day 12) influenced my creativity.
Even when I want to shut that part of my brain off, the need to be creative oftentimes pursues me back. It can be from seeing how the light hits the side of the Menil Collection and casts symmetric shadows. Maybe it’s an electrifying trip climbing up the Mayan ruins or a quiet walk through the jungles can inspire your next short story or song lyrics. These sensory experiences influences what we express out onto the world.
1) Traditional Routes of Learning Art/ Mayan Artist Communities
I was overwhelmed and inspired by the dual influences of the Spanish and Mayan culture. If you want a taste of this, you’ll have to go into an overcrowded market in Antigua, the Lake, or Chichicastenango and just wander around. Random women yelling at you begging to bargain with you. A spare baby napping in a basket on the floor. Toothless men limping about. Haggling in broken English and in Spanish. Just putting yourself in a sensory overload which is completely different from the United States heightens your perception. It’s like getting to walk through life with more awareness and more vivid memories because it’s all new and foreign and stressful and exciting all at once.
I especially fell in love with the repeated geometric patterns and vibrant colors the Mayan artists used. It’s in their clothing, blankets, scarves, jewelry, wallets, purses, and all sorts of other items. Through local boutiques and different villages, I had the chance to meet a lot of women artists who made these items. Connecting with a very traditional and old way of creating handmade items was mesmerizing for me. I also loved meeting these women in their homes teaching other women how to create these pieces of art. Sharing a meal with them trying to break out of my timid shell and awkwardly putting myself in new social situations.
One of my favorite moments was when a woman from one of the smaller villages made the trek to meet me in Antigua and teach me how to weave textiles. This was definitely not like watching my mother make one of her quilts or like the time I taught myself how to knit scarves. There was something very intimate and heartfelt about listening to her Spanish instructions. Seeing the creators and seeing where they live, seeing their creative process and getting to know these artists was an incredible experience for me.
2) Non-traditional / Freeform Approaches to My Creativity
Building off of the unique cultural richness of Guatemala, my studio playtime took a new turn. Since I dictated my own schedule, I was able to follow a regime of structured studio time. It was probably some of the most productive times I have had as an artist. The biggest things that helped me break the rules a bit and playfully create were two things: www.creativebug.com (online art lessons in English- THANK GOD!) and Elle Luna’s 100 Day Project.
The creativebug website gave me some new techniques to utilize in my artwork and my sketchbook. Combined with my exposure to the traditional art of the Mayans gave me a unique spin to my class assignments. And, the 100 Day Project became a way for me to produce 100 pieces of art mostly sketchbook and art journal format throughout the majority of last year. I also enjoyed connecting with Elle Luna’s 100 Day Project community on Instagram. It was nice seeing other people’s work especially my friend’s portfolio Rachel Gonzales.
Moving to Latin America provided a completely different aesthetic environment and traditional Mayan community. The time abroad changed the art I created, but it also opened up a new environment for my company. I was definitely more inspired to teach my classes beyond the traditional yoga studio: at private poolside yoga classes with BBQs, nanny service and an on-site masseuse, in schools with younger students, or a rustic yoga platform overlooking Lake Atitlan. And, because I lacked a book club community in Guatemala, I added a new dimension to my company last year by making an online platform for my book club which was able to reach out to so many people beyond just where I was living.
It was not the easiest road for me to take my company abroad, but I am really grateful that I did. It really tested my creative limits and proved to myself that the need for yoga and creativity is apparent in so many other parts of the world. In this upcoming year I am beyond excited to have the chance to share #ARTYOGAPLAY back here in the States.