Creative inspiration presents itself to artists in a variety of mysterious ways. Sometimes, it strikes us like lightening and sometimes it whispers almost imperceptibly. At times, it arrives in the form of a neatly-wrapped assignment, and at others, it leads us forward with vague nudgings and a strange sense that we are somehow preserving our souls with every step. Inevitably, this process has as many manifestations as there are artists. And probably more. In my personal experience, inspiration isn't the sort of thing that I can will myself to generate in a closed channel. Instead, it's facilitated by a willingness to say yes to that shape-shifting Muse of art when it chooses to show up.
On September 1st, I embarked on 90-day endurance performance art piece, entitled "True Light." The name derives from a mystical inscription made on the bronze doors of St. Denis in Paris by the 12th century founder of Gothic art and architecture, Abbot Suger. It reads, "Bright is the noble work; but, being nobly bright, the work should brighten the minds, so that they may travel, through the true lights, to the True Light... "
This may well be the most challenging artwork I have created. "True Light," as a performance piece, is designed to open my inner space to Suger's "True Light," the Essence and the Muse of art. The foundation of the performance involves a full 90-day controlled fast, which allows for the consumption of blended and juiced fruits and vegetables, as well as plenty of water. With the fast providing the baseline, I will integrate 30 days of prayer in September, followed by 30 days of meditation in October, followed by a ﬁnal 30-day decrescendo of silence in November. When synthesized within my being, these various components form the basis of embodied research into the experiential phenomenon of artistic inspiration. For the duration of the piece, I will be blogging weekly to share reﬂections on the experience.
Throughout the performance, my daily rituals and responses to the process will be utilized to generate an extensive new body of visual artwork. In addition to this, I'm employing numerous methods for documenting the physical and psychological changes experienced over the course of the 90 days, such as recording everyday activity via accelerometer devices and gathering clinical and research-related biological data. I'm also creating photographic studies of my right iris each week. For this piece, I feel privileged to engage the expertise of a vast constellation of respected professionals, including my medical doctor Michelle Yih at the NYU Center for Women's Health; 2012 TED Fellow, geneticist and founder of Rare Genomics Institute C. Jimmy Lin; author and certiﬁed clinical nutritionist Natalia Rose; various natural health practitioners including Joyce Rockwood founder of LYT Holistic Treatment Center for Colonics; optometrist Dr. Neil Schafran; iridologist Judy Vedder; and various meditation masters, performance art experts and leaders within the faith community. My consultants are not working collaboratively, but I am integrating their assorted modalities within my being.
During this ﬁrst month, I'm exploring the art form of prayer in a variety of interpretations and cross-cultural contexts, which I will start to unpack in next week's post. I'm also utilizing multiple channels through which to express prayer -- both physical and digital. I'm excited to explore social media as a live channel for giving rather than for simply sharing. To participate, please send your prayer requests via Twitter @liachavez. There will be opportunities to participate in this performance which I will announce here at the Hufﬁngton Post and other social media channels. I look forward to sharing my journey with you.
Follow Lia Chavez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/liachavez