Everywhere I turn these days I am seeing hearts. Nowhere is that more true than in the tiny house occupied by artist Carola Marashi. Her little place reminds me of a hobbit house… cozy, warm, simple. The perfect place to lose yourself in art and let the outside world fade away. I sat with Carola and we talked about her art and the upcoming HeartFest 2012 on February 11 and 12. She is a woman of many talents — intuitive counselor, nutritionist, ecstatic dance facilitator, and published author, but for this interview we are mostly concentrating on Carola the artist.
Marcus… First you did a reading for me using your Sacred Dance Cards. That reading establishes a starting point for the creation of my own personal heart portrait that you will draw for me.
Carola… That is right. If you don’t mind, I will draw and you can ask away.
Marcus… How did you come up with this totally unique idea?
Carola… (Long laugh…) I love playing with people. I always wanted to be a cartoonist, and then I realized that my hearts are basically a cartoon. I read people, I read their hearts. A cartoonist creates caricatures, I work with archetypes. I see it through colors and shapes and movement. The hearts seem to capture all of that.
The cards are a friendly thing for people to touch, and by touching they are more willing to reveal.
Marcus… So… the cards act like a window into the person?
Carola… Yes, you see what you are open to seeing.
Marcus… When did you start to create your art in earnest?
Carola… It was 2005. That was my dive into art as therapy. I wasn’t dancing.
Marcus… Something else came through you because you were denying yourself another thing you love. Tell us a little about that process.
Carola… My art moves. I have many outlets for my passion. Whatever my art is, it is expressing what I probably don’t have too many words for. I think that love, intimacy, relationship, connectedness, all that kind of stuff has a limited vocabulary. So, colors and motion capture the things we lack words for.
Marcus… Who is your favorite artist?
Carola… I really dig Picasso. What is cool about Picasso is that his art is all about suggestion. He gives you the suggestion, then you as the viewer become the final artist. You fill it all in.
Marcus… What inspired you to start doing heart-art?
Carola… The romantic part of me who is still about 12 years old. Valentines was always my favorite holiday. I love love. I love eros. I love crushes. Crushes are what make the world go around. Everyone feels special, loved, appreciated.
Also, Marcus, I feel like my mom died of a broken heart. She was always deeply in love with my dad and when they got divorced I don’t think she ever got over it. When she died I really feel like she was telling me to love fully and fiercely and let my heart break a lot. I kind of think that she is behind all of this.
Marcus… What emotions are coming through when you create?
Carola… Liquid. Emotions ooze when I am creating. There aren’t any specific emotions, I just let the dam drop.
The other day I did a pair of heart portraits for two girls. It was totally spontaneous, and I wasn’t in the best mood. Once I starting doing their portraits my mood changed dramatically. I think I am called to do this.
There is never a right time to love, never a right time to do art. There is never a right time to drop the dam, you know? I am so blessed to be able to do my art.
Marcus… I look around your humble abode and see heart art pieces everywhere. What do you think it is about this time of year that stirs your creativity?
Carola… The earth begins to swell. Early bulbs emerge. The juices of the trees starts to move, the energy moves up, the branches are swelling, the sap is rising. We start to wake up from our hibernation and look around, things start to smell really good. The senses come alive, creativity flows.
Marcus… You got your masters in transpersonal psychology. What is that exactly?
Carola… I see it as the blending of spirituality and psychology. We studied shamanistic healing, imagery, Joseph Campbell archetypes. I did my internship in psychodrama — a lot less talking and a whole lot more movement. I have seen that people lower their defenses more in movement. The gargoyle seems to be most active around words, less so around movement.
Marcus… You refer to yourself as an intuitive counselor. What does that mean?
Carola… I want my therapist to help me trust myself and listen to myself. I like to give what it is that I like to receive. I like to teach what it is that I want to learn. The best gift that I can give a client is to help them trust their intuition.
Marcus… You left a successful career in nutrition to pursue something different, find a new path for yourself. Why did you do that?
Carola… When I was studying for my masters they were saying all the things I believed in as a teenager. From then on I started doing things that are more true to who I am rather than societies definition of success. The successful story was a compromise, not my true self.
I was working with the medical model. That model was all about diagnosis, billing insurance companies, etc.. I got paid really well, and I did some awesome stuff, but I didn’t want to continue to support that industry. When I moved to Austin I made a contract with myself that I would become a participant in what I was teaching. I couldn’t hide behind being a therapist with the client separate from me. Transpersonal psychology means we share the path, we walk side by side. There is no duality, so there is no compromise.
Marcus… HeartFest 2012 is the first art show you have participated in. How do you feel about that?
Carola… I am excited, it’s gonna be fun.
(At this point in the interview, my heart portrait is almost done, and it is looking really cool.)
Marcus… So what you are offering people is the chance to get one of these “heart portraits” which you have been working on throughout this entire interview. The image is based on what came to you during the “sacred dance card reading.”
Carola… Yes, I will be offering the heart portraits, cards, prints, patches, and originals. I am really excited about the heart portraits. (at this point Carola hands me my finished heart portrait.)
Marcus… This piece really evokes a strong body response in me. Looking at it puts me in a meditative state. I am both joyous and calm. It is beautiful. Thank you.
For more about Carola go to carolamarashi.wordpress.com, or come by HeartFest 2012 on February 11 and 12 and see her face to face at the Briscoe ArtWing, in the old Briscoe Elementary school. It is gonna be fun!