Antonella Mason QC’ 11 and Jim Stellar
AM was a student with whom JS interacted after meeting at a student art show. While AM was in Italy she sent the following statement in an e-mail.
I was born a painter. All alone, I went through the psychological questions that every true artist feels in her/his heart, believing it was only about me. At the end of every chapter of my life, I found more of my real self of my own spirit: this is what ART is about. Today, I can say that my ART exists also because of others…especially because of others, to whom I dedicate the spirit of it
JS says that he almost always find that artists think in an “other lobe” fashion, perhaps because creativity is something of a mystery to the cognitive mind (Where did that idea come from?), yet this is where artists live. Prompted by the above statement, AM developed the following piece that we reprint in its entirety below.
On Mind & Heart Connection: Contemplation and Reflection through My Emotional/Creative-Intellectual/Creative State of Mind.
I believe the heart and the mind connect through the senses. This connection develops the way we relate to the external world. Our body language communicates atavistically depending on how much we are open and receptive; however, our mind can reach different channels of communication that are determined by the training it has been subjected. In other words, while the body is spontaneous, the mind works on infinite different little transformations. These transformations are very personal but “technically” are a representation of how a human mind can be articulated and can grow infinitely.
Now, what about the heart? How can we recognize the heart is not just a “feelings container” but indeed the “other” component of the human mind? In creating my artwork I need both heart and mind together, actually, I do not even consider one existing without the other. The act of generating art work is something driven by heart and mind acting as yin and yang, as positive and negative space on a picture. We cannot believe they can exist separated, and as such, producing separated and different reactions.
When I produce artwork without any visual reference, it is like letting my senses to express themselves in total freedom through their own language while when I think, it is like getting these senses to charge in order to be ready to move on into the external, either creating art or expressing thoughts through speaking and writing. However, the act of freely producing artwork it is not dictated only from my feelings; indeed, it is motivated by the impulses that my heart has stored through my mind. I want to be clearer on this concept underlining that the heart can have the function of a storage that keeps memory of feelings when the mind relaxes, leaving space to a more active body language in which the senses are included.
Thus, when the mind leaves more space to the heart, this lets the senses free to grow and express themselves, but it does not mean that the mind does not store -as the heart did previously with feelings- inputs of brain storming and mental re-elaborations that later will generate an explosion of emotional results. If I feel that everything I have been thinking, even subconsciously, in a way or another, soon or later, is coming out and showing itself through my work, it means that as my heart has stored my feelings, my mind has stored my thinking. If the act of “storing” can be kept in some ways separated from the act of “behaving, -either acting or reacting”- it does not mean that one –heart- can exist without the other –mind-. In fact, the act of storing feelings to be later “used” shows the relation that connects mind to heart which is the necessity to the engine mind to elaborate what will be stored; on the other hand, the same duty is for the heart to feel and capture the emotion that later on will be elaborated. Thus, producing art to me comes from the inner development of my senses and their need to move out to be replaced by continuous head inputs.
As an artist I take Pascal writing – “The heart has reasons of which reason does not know ” – as the pure source of the art creation which is to me nothing than the sublimation of the senses; however, I believe that the senses sublimation comes from a subtle invisible construction of thoughts that our mind elaborates through the emotions that we encounter in our life time.
Education is a priority when the senses want to be developed and grow not only inside out but also outside in. This way we can elaborate concepts that show us the relationship between the mind and the heart and how they need each other either for the giving or for the taking. We may consider heart and mind strictly related but at the same time also not related at all depending from the “circumstance” the human thinking/feeling finds ‘itself’. If the heart does not dispose of great feelings, may be the mind does not feed its hunger,… may be the hunger does not exist at all. Instead, I would like to believe that the heart is the winner of the battle of the feelings that generate creativity, for the reason that I am a passionate artist, and Italian, and romantic, and dramatic, and aware that I need to be the way I am in order to create the artwork I do create.
Now, is this enough to make us believe that the heart is the first stimulus to start the intellectual mechanism of the mind in the specific case of my artwork? I do want to keep this aspect on the personal level for not confusing my own ‘state of heart/mind’ with the one of others. I am confident in acknowledging that heart and mind connection status priority, depends on the individual. The connection not only exists, but the most of the times it is a fusion of the two –heart/mind- to become one the complement of the other.
Then, at the question if it is the heart watching us, waiting to catch ‘mental circumstances’ and translates them into feelings, or if it is the mind such a perfect mechanism, able to address its energy to create emotional conditions, we can surely assert that the whole depends from the growth of the individual. While the Heart is growing, the most of the times, through sufferance, the Mind is maturing through acknowledgement of the same sufferance. While the Mind is maturing knowledge, it starts a process in which it balances the Heart’s relationship with emotions. Thus Mind and Heart are directly connected through the development of the human being.
So what is the connection to experiential education? Both processes involve what some have called “The Hidden Brain” and others referred to the brain as “Incognito” to indicate our lack of conscious awareness of what drives much of our behavior. While this is nothing new to an artist, it seems it is nothing known to most of higher education where work outside the academy is only just beginning to be realized as valuable beyond what is often pejoratively called “extra-curricular.” We need data on what people learn with this part of the brain. We need first to recognize it exists. We need to listen to the artists and the creative people who know that there is more to high accomplishment than what we can say and even consciously think. That confidence an Economics major gains by working, for example, at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, interacts with the academic economic learning in the major and maybe a few other things too (e.g. writing, math, …) to give a kind of fluidity of knowledge that we recognize with maturity. Why not start college kids off on that path while in college?