Note: This thoughtful, moving post is by Nadine Rusinek-Bloomfield, an Enso circle Resident from Toronto. She write from a "real-life-happens" perspective that speak to all of us who find that our creativity isn't always guaranteed or automatic but sometimes needs to move "like molasses." Thank you, Nadine. Michelle and I loved your thoughts on this sometimes difficult subject.
Detail: Under the Ice (photo encaustic) by author, 2021
I am not sure how I alighted upon The Enso Residency program. I am beyond grateful I did. I
had been circling around my art before accepting the invitation - briefly touching down and
engaging but without the needed discipline necessary to advance my artistic growth. This was
because life had wedged itself between my ambitions and reality.
There is a certain kind of judgement and pathology ascribed to the self-described artist who doesn’t ‘art’ (or art ‘enough’). Are quantity, hours and output realistic indices of one’s status as an artist? I came to Enso in the stuck place - that frozen landscape where one’s feet seem trapped in ice and inspiration feels forced and inauthentic.I had been pushing a Sisyphean boulder (an art-based thesis about Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy) up this icy hill. If the opposite of trauma’s freeze response is flow, then does persisting with art heal as a kind of icebreaker? Can it elicit flow when forced, when one is truly frozen? Where is our ability to heal in the space between stuck and unstuck? What exactly is inspiration? These are the questions I ask myself every week as I engage with Enso. Being lost in the process is artful, it is authentic. It is engaging with the divine.
Jacob’s Ladder appeared in my work the first term. I wasn’t expecting this imagery and
had to look up its significance. The Divine, flow - connection to forces beyond our
comprehension. This is art. Dr. Paolo Knill, father of expressive arts therapy, spoke about the
“Holy, wholly other”. The art lives beyond our hands, as its own spirit. It tells its own truths. By
engaging with these works, by staying on the surface and not analysing or interpreting, we may
hear the insights the art offers. Persistence begets flow and flow need not be fast, it can move
Enso is a moving circle, it is living community. Connection and community shifts
one into dialogue. This term has been beset with health issues and I am tethered to the circle by
a golden thread. Enso is the thin rivulet of water that bores through ice. Enso, therefore, is hope and offers that frame in which to persist, to chase flow, however slow. Enso holds this space.
Sometimes it is invisible but we persist with the faith of knowing Winter’s ice yields to Spring’s
Nadine Rusinek-Bloomfield 2023 #ourensocircle #theensocircle
When I was growing up my mom encouraged me to give myself permission to do what’s right, what’s helpful to others, and what’s beneficial to me in terms of self-care and life balance. I learned to truly listen to my inner voice and follow my intuition as often as I could.
A most radical recent opportunity to do just that came in the form of the Enso Circle, an online artist residency that attracts artists from around the world and was created by award-winning creatives Lyn Belisle and Michelle Belto.
I was aware of Lyn’s spirit dolls and knew I wanted to create my own. I sought out tips from Lyn and took her how to classes. I gave myself permission to play with fabrics, sticks, and clay. And I had a blast! So, I took the biggest leap ever and applied for membership in the Enso Circle. I was not an artist. I was a life coach and therapist.
As soon as I hit ‘send’ on my Enso Circle application I gave myself permission to pretend that I was an artist. I gave myself permission to know that if I were accepted my life would change tremendously. And I gave myself permission to wonder what that could look like. Would I retire from the day job to pursue doll making full time? Would I discover other mediums for artistic expression and dabble with a variety of them for fun and learning? Could it be possible that I would learn more about creativity and develop my own sacred studio practice to fuel my creative endeavors?
I would indeed as I was accepted into the residency! The Enso Circle has delivered a support circle of amazing men and women to move through life and art with. From sharing honest critiques to sharing souls on our regular Zoom meetings and in our Slack channel, the Enso Circle has opened my mind and my heart to more creativity, support, and accountability than I thought was possible. And it’s given me permission to think bigger about what my artistic voice might have to say. I am grateful for the Enso Circle members as we witness the creative spirit as it springs forth from each of us.
If you are practicing permission giving in your own creative life, you would love the Enso Circle artist residency. Take your own leap and fill out the application today. I’ll look forward to meeting you in our circle.
One of the first things we ask in the application process is what the applicant wants to accomplish in a twelve-week residency. Implied in the question is the need for a goal. For many of us artists, the word itself is intimidating. Can I change my mind once the Residency starts? If I aim to complete three paintings during the Residency, do I have to work on only those paintings? What if I choose a goal that I won’t be able to accomplish?
Our answer: Yes. No. Reshape the goal.
Photo Credit: Ronnie Overgoor on Unsplash