Art as a Pathway to the Noetic: Invoking the Visual

January 27, 2023
IONS Communications Team

How can visual arts help us access the noetic realms? In this ConnectIONS Live webinar, three artists explored the alchemy of image and imagination as a medium for sensing the interconnectedness of all things. 

  • Aranka Israni, photographer working with mixed media
  • Dana Lynne Andersen, multimedia artist, and writer (and former IONS resident artist)
  • Lisa M. French, former IONS Executive Director of Development and intuitive painter 

The discussion was facilitated by IONS Director of Experience & Engagement, Kerstin Sjoquist. IONS members have free access to the webinar replay – together with all previous ConnectIONS Lives.

The conversation starts with the artists introducing their view on how visual arts connect us to the noetics. Aranka talks about focusing on the moments between moments, the liminal space between what we can and can’t see (about 7 minutes in).

Dana speaks about the power of the arts to shift consciousness. Lisa mentions how the act of creation opens up unexpected pathways and experiences.

How can creating/engaging with arts open up to noetics? Around 10:45 into the video, Dana mentions how science tells us how much the visual affects our bodies. And our bodies are the vessels through which we have noetic experiences.

Artists work intentionally with the power of images. That said, we’re just in the infancy of knowing how much art affects us. It can support or erode our capacity and wellbeing as human beings. 

The artists mention how, rather than creating from the mind, the task as artists is to open up our channels and create space. That way, we become conduits of the wisdom and higher consciousness that wants to flow through us. 

So, what is art? A more relevant question would be: what is not art? Art can be described as anything that activates exploration and play. It is to use image to propel imagination. This inevitably opens us up to the unknown, which can be scary – so one can argue that creating and engaging with art requires courage!  

Fifteen minutes in, Lisa touches upon how we need joy and play in the creative process. She also highlights the healing power of visual arts: art is critical in advancing consciousness because it invites us to see things from a different perspective. 

As such, it pushes us from the programming that we need to do things in a certain way. It expands our awareness to innovate and find solutions for all humanity’s problems.

Dana mentions how in our society, we tend to undervalue the importance of play and see it as something reserved for children. While in truth, play is a high state of consciousness where anything is possible! The play state is a state of awareness and perception allowing us to draw solutions from the future instead of repeating the past, which is the default way of living life.

Twenty minutes in, Lisa shares a fascinating anecdote from when she was creating art at an academy in Italy. While painting, she started to belly laugh. She didn’t understand why since there wasn’t anything particularly comic about what she had created. 

Later, she showed it to others – and was baffled to see that the spectators started to laugh, too! Her theory is that the energy of the painting and color provoked laughter. An excellent example of an art-related noetic experience where something intangible gives rise to something as tangible as laughter. This once again shows that as an artist, you are a channel. There is no need to know why things happen – just be open!

Dana shares the power of NOT knowing. We are used to thinking that knowledge is power – but the opposite can be said to be true in arts. The more we can step into the unknown, into a place where we don’t have the answers, the more we can receive answers and solutions.

Aranka says that when we allow ourselves to become channels, we step out of ourselves and into the collective unknown. 

The theme of getting out of our societal conditioning to reap the benefits of arts shows up repeatedly in the discussion. Around 24:30, Lisa speaks about the art of “falling in love with not knowing”. There’s liberation in saying “I don’t know” without feeling the pressure to reach a conclusion. It’s a vibrational switch from how our thinking brains approach things. 

Aranka adds that surrendering to the creative process is about “getting used to being used”, allowing yourself to become a vessel and let the paintbrush do the work. 

The discussion moves on to answer the question: who is an artist? The panel agrees that everyone is an artist. Those who use and express their gifts are those who have stopped obeying their inner critic.

Lisa mentions how she has a daily art practice where she practices not judging herself, and simply lets whatever wants to come through, come through. It’s easy to see how this practice goes beyond creativity and into healing! 

Adding to this, Dana shares how the act of creation takes you on a healing journey. “Energy has its own intelligence. It knows how to move and what to shift”.

Aranka shares how she – subconsciously – started as an artist as a way to heal trauma. As a kid, she lacked words for the pain she was experiencing and began to express it through art. If you’re interested in learning more, the discipline of art therapy uses art as an outlet for trauma.

But creating art is healing whether or not it’s in a therapeutic container. In Dana’s words: “You can’t help but have a healing process when creating”.

Around 40 minutes into the discussion, Aranka shares how art facilitates noetic experiences: it takes us into the symbolic and metaphorical and opens another way of perceiving, seeing, and listening.

The discussion moves into how to get into the creative flow. The body is a central part of the creative process – painting and drawing literally happen through your hands. Lisa shares how many artists have a ritual to get into the zone and open to flow state. Dana adds that for many, movement is fundamental to unlocking the channel. It takes you out of the mind and “what should I create?” and into the kinesthetic reality of the body, where information and instinct guide the creative process.

Aranka says how the need for embodiment is true for all art forms: the dancer being danced by the dance, the sculptor becoming one with the clay. When you surrender to the full embodied experience, magic (and art) happens!

Just like how we all engage with noetic experiences differently, we all have our own way of tapping into flow. Dana hosts workshops helping the participants find their own process for entering flow state. Some people do it through movement, others by playing with clay, and others by being in nature. Aranka mentions how she uses Jung’s “active imagination” exercise to get into flow: she imagines putting on her creative coat.

The artists also discuss the importance of the physical space where the art is perceived. Dana mentions how your studio is a vessel, and the vibration of it helps people have a deeper experience. 

To further show the noetic qualities of art, Dana shares an astounding episode around 1 hour and 6 minutes into the video. Harnessing the power of making art doesn’t need to happen through the physical act of creating – it can be purely imaginative! She shares how she once hosted a clay workshop. At the time of starting, the clay hadn’t arrived. Dana solved the situation by asking people to close their eyes and imagine making things with clay. Afterward, people recounted having had transformative experiences – simply by imagining making art!

To conclude the discussion, Dana says how everything is creative. Even driving can be a creative act. It’s about flowing, cocreating, and dancing with whatever is unfolding.

Aranka leaves the audience with something to contemplate: through what eyes am I looking? Both during the creative process and in life in general.

Lisa leaves the audience with the words: “you were born to be beautiful cocreators and express what is unique to you. Your gifts have a profound impact on your wellbeing and that of the planet.”

Become an IONS member today to watch the full webinar, as well as lots of other conference and webinar replays with world leaders in fascinating noetic topics.

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