Embodying Art and Spirituality

My name is Teresa Hougnon. I am a visual artist, a self-discovery practitioner,  a Maryknoll Sister (a Catholic nun), and a social healing facilitator.  Those are just a few of my hats.  But the first two are relevant to the journey I am inviting you to take with me through these pages.

A few years ago, my life was full, I had ample work, a community to share life with, and never enough time to create art, which was my “hobby.”  Yet, I felt empty. I sought answers through meditation and breathing exercises, but that only led me into despair.  I turned to a trusted mentor.  She invited me to close my eyes and go deep within myself, to feel the emptiness. She then invited me to think of one person from my life who had been a role model for me.  She told me to invite that role model into the emptiness and ask the role model for advice.  I was surprised to see in my mind the woman who was my high school art teacher.  Toni, as she was called, simply said to me, “Create your art. Don’t be afraid to be different.” My mentor then invited me to open my eyes and tell her what I learned from the role model.  What I learned that day was that my “hobby”, creating art,  was the medicine I needed to take every day in my life to live fully, to breath deeply, and be connected to my true self. 

That day was just the beginning of my journey through self-discovery.  I call it a journey through self-discovery, because self-discovery is the territory, not the destination. I discover new things about myself as I create art.  One of the first things I discovered was that creating art made me feel differently.  As I picked up a brush with paint and put it on the canvas, my body and mind felt whole.  Or I can even say, I felt my body. I felt my two feet on the ground, I felt my core at the center, I felt the air I was taking in and letting out as I breathed.  Unlike any other work I had been doing for the past ten years, creating art spontaneously grounded me in my body.

I did not make big changes to my life; I still do personal transformation and social healing work with my community of sisters and the larger community we live in. But I have made space in our schedule for creating art. I have gone back to school to integrate my art making in my life practice. And I have reached out to the artists in the community where I live to spend time together making art, sharing art, and being artists.  

I also wanted this to be a permanent shift in my life, fully embracing my art making as the core of my being.  I wanted to understand more deeply how to intentionally embody that part of me that makes meaning through making art. What is the self-connection that happens through embodied art making that leads to self-discovery?  I felt it, but I really couldn’t describe it to others.  I looked for ways to make an intentional process of the connection between embodiment, art making and self-discovery.

Join me here every Friday if you want to transform a “full life” into “living fully,” if you want to embrace your art making as integral to your life. I will lead you through meditation, embodiment exercises, art exercises, and other things that lead to new discoveries.

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