This month's artist is a friend of mine from college days--she and I navigated the waters of the Franklin Pierce fine arts department together, and now keep in touch while navigating the waters of professional artist adulthood. Here's her introduction, in her own words:
My name is Lila, and I live where I land.
My body is my home, for now...I imagine at some point I will nest. But right now...the nomadic lifestyle is creating an opportunity for deepened self-knowledge and an understanding of the world around me by becoming intimate with my inner landscape and my own psyche. (I am not suggesting this is the only way to attain a deeper understanding of yourself. I am simply stating that it's currently working for me.)
My medium is...life: The human experience.
My hunger and inspiration spring from engaging with substance, depth, transparency, vulnerability and showing up authentically with an open heart in whatever medium I choose. My life is built around using the container of my human body as a vessel for expression and exploration. I am inspired whenever I feel I can flirt with Life Force Energy & Mamma Gaia. I am inspired by failure and shadow...bliss and light...the ever present contrast of dark and light.
My "art medium" ... if you want to box me in .... I would tell you my medium is photography. Visual storytelling.
My other beloveds are writing, dance, and whatever moves me in the moment. Sometimes making breakfast is an art... observing the shape my butter takes when it's melting on my toast. My medium on some days is bed making. I have a deeper appreciation for where I get to rest my body because I travel a lot. I like to create an internally and externally inviting surrounding. I create an inviting internal space by being present for my self care. I'm devoted to bringing conscious awareness to everything I do. I am not perfect at this. I am a hot mess sometimes. But I am getting comfortable with myself in all my phases of being.
I own a photography business called Sheryl Sapphire Photography.
Who is Sheryl Sapphire?
She's one of the many aspects of myself. Goddess of 1,000 names. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
Unnameable. Unknowable. Nameable & deeply known.
I recently changed my name because our journey into death has many phases. I am shapeshifting through my own experience. So is my art. Will Lila be my name forever? ... hard to tell. Will my art be Sheryl Sapphire Photography forever? ... who the fuck knows.
I certainly don't pretend to.
My logo is the Triskele, the Celtic triple spiral. When I chose the symbol, it has just started revealing itself to me so I had less of an understanding of what it meant at the time. To me it represents the maiden, mother, crone archetypal journey. It can also represent life, death, rebirth....past-present-future. To me it is a gateway... an entry point of exploration of the rhythms and cycles of Creation.
My business is a container for that.
I must admit, I have no idea what I'm doing. SURPRISE!
Sometimes I have a specific direction and structure...sometimes I don't. As I continue to show up for my work, and for myself... new levels of awareness about the world around me and the people in it reveal themselves. I just show up. And my art/life is an investigation of what it means to just show up and make myself available to the creative process...to the journey of the soul.
My photography is kind of an archetypal exploration of the human spirit. I'm learning about myself through others, and others are learning through me. Vis Versa. I like to create a container for self-research through ritual. I ritualize the exploration of the SELF through photo sessions.
I collect data about human beings through my travel. This "data" comes from connection. Person to person. Heart to heart.
Sometimes the shooting is goal oriented, sometimes it's only purpose is that is has no purpose.
I like to balance meaningfulness with meaninglessness. The mystery is in the shutter snap.
This whole thing...this whole human experience is important and utterly pointless. I take everything seriously...and I also take NOTHING seriously. This helps me reflect and determine what is important to me, personally. (and what is important collectively)
Now that you have an understanding... or a deep confusion about what it is that I do...
I will move forward to some questions that my beautiful soul sister has provided.
More to Know:
What's your current "jam"?: in the following categories, what is something you recently discovered or are really into right now?
What's my current "jam"?
My current jam is ... uhh... well... today it's this smoothie I just made. It's got probiotic protein powder and I dig repopulation of my gut flora...soooo...
I don't really have a "jam". My jam is that I have no consistent jams. You are my jam.
Life is my jam.
Song – A song I like: "Could" by Elderbrook. If you have space in your day to put on headphones and go have a solo dance party with a tree or the wind...or the snow...this is highly recommended.
If you don't have time, I might suggest making some booty shaking time.
Book/reading – Not In His Image : Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and The Future of Belief by John Lamb Lash. I am also forever reading Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Books I've read that rule my life: The Passion of Mary Magdalen by Elizabeth Cunningham and Vagina by Naomi Wolf
Work of Art - I love my friend Kris Davidson's tattoo art. I have some that lives on my body. Check out his instagram. That dude is kind of a badass, and he inspires me to create more discipline in my work. I watched him hand draw a beautifully symmetrical mandala while we were in Peru together. I just appreciate his devotion to his work and how humbly he carries it. He is uniquely inventive and I've watched other artists feed off his steeze.
Movie/video/documentary/etc – Movie: Maleficent, Documentary: Before the Flood
What do you love about the place you live?
I like the variety.... ;)
If you weren’t an artist, what would you do?
I would probably......umm.... wither away and die? Just kidding...maybe I would be an herbalist... or Jungian Psychologist? I would go to school and study acupuncture? Massage? Yoga? Energy healer?
Who knows... These are all things I still dabble with. It's part of the art of living. We're all artists.
Quote Contemplation: - Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I love this quote. Because it points us back INward. It reminds us that healing the planet starts with ourselves.
It reminds me of a writing bit I was reflecting on in my journal. I said something like, "I'm saving the world...starting with watering my houseplants."
And I unpacked that statement by explaining:
Refinement & embodiment ♥️
This doesn't mean that we don't try and take big action to contribute to the greater whole, it's asking us to see how change is an inside job. If we can't nurture our immediate environment and care for what's ours first, we will not have harmony and balance when we step forward to take on bigger projects.
Embodiment > enlightenment ⭐️
Yes information can "enlighten" us,
Yes we can be cosmically connected...but it's how we embody the wisdom in our everyday lives that creates the change.
Ascension is nothing without descension into the body and our everyday experiences.
Simple things like attention to details, walking your dog, and doing your dishes, are grounding practices that ripple out to areas in the rest of your life. When we balance our intentions with our actions - that's where the real harmony is. Magic starts in your kitchen sink.
I think I will always be struck by the sheer life force coming out of Lila's work. Whether it's capturing joy or serenity, wisdom or playfulness, living in the moment or in the eternity of nature; whether there's just one person in front of the lens, or more; whether there's a direct look at the camera or a sense that no one is watching...there is no way to escape the togetherness felt in every one of her images. One sees both a personal journey and the collective journey of mankind. The people and connections she travels to are so varied, yet the way she captures their stories through her lens is so intimate that it's easy to imagine oneself there. Looking at them, you feel that specific type of fearlessness of being comfortable in your own skin.
Most of all, in these pictures one sees a true love of people on Earth, and a study of the ways in which we are meant to cross paths. The journey isn't over, and there's still more to see and share--and that's why we'll keep coming back to Lila's stories.
Because sometimes it has already been said better, I will leave you with a few snippets from other artists that Lila's work reminds me of, or that remind me of Lila's work:
For me, perhaps the most fitting is "Wild Child" by Enya:
Travel, and photograph. Lila is a travel photographer in a sense very different from traveling to beautiful or historic places to share them with others. She travels to beautiful and historic people and experiences. This challenge is for you to take a trip to a place you have never been. Be inspired by the new and unknown; try to capture the part about it you find unique or important. Find the parts you will always want to remember, and take a picture. Take many, and learn something about yourself in the process.
Following Lila's lead, travel photography should capture the soul of the journey, not just a physical landmark.
A Day Without Rain by Enya (musical album, 2000)
Before the Flood (documentary, 2016)
Hot Space by Queen ft David Bowie (musical album, 1982)
Kris Davidson (artist), https://www.krisd.net/
Maleficent (film, 2014)
Not In His Image : Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology and The Future of Belief by John Lamb Lash (book, 2006)
Wildflowers by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (musical album, 1994)
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (book, 1996)