Many Muses Festival Spring 2021

On Friday March 26th, 2021, Musea held its first ever Many Muses Festival. This day-long virtual gathering was organized and hosted by Curatorial Director, Amber Gould, Curator, Shiloh Sophia with Intentional Creativity Guild Members as Festival Hosts and Presenters. It was held in honor of International Women’s Day and the convening of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women –  the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Shiloh Sophia has been actively supporting and presenting at the UNCSW for the past seven years, alongside many Guild members. As we could not meet in person, the Many Muses Festival was designed to bring our community together for creativity, self expression, activism, and celebration of women’s art and voices.

The day consisted of several powerful presentations including Intentional Creativity art activities, drum song and dace, Indigenous teachings, two curated art exhibits, and an after-hours open mic. There were over 150 participants who had the opportunity to experience a renewed sense of creative vigor, the joy of being witnessed in circle, the glow of a body that has been in rhythm, song, and dance, the creation of two intentional creativity works of art that were compared to “having keepsake Festival Swag”, and the inspiration that comes from honoring incredible art that is made by women, featured by women, and financially supported by women.

The day started with a Red Thread Cafe Opening Circle which included beautiful drumming and song by Crystal Easton, Intentional Creativity teacher and Indigenous Leader. This was followed with a talk by Curator, Shiloh Sophia, about the origins of the treasured ritual within our Intentional Creativity Community referred to as “Cafe”. This is a daily morning practice of self reflection as it relates to your creativity, usually accompanied by a yummy cup of coffee or tea, (or maybe even wine and chocolate if your muse is more of a night owl). Shiloh described how this ritual was handed down to her by Sue Hoya Sellers, Shiloh’s co-mother, art teacher, mentor, and Elder of the Intentional Creativity Community. From its humble beginnings when Sue was a young struggling artist able to afford only a daily trip to Denny’s for a cup of coffee with her art journal to a now ten thousand member plus Facebook Group called The Red Thread Cafe Classroom, Shiloh recounted the importance of this Cafe ritual to not only her own artistic development but how it can support all artists with their creative journeys. She also gave a lovely reading from her book, The Way of the Red Thread, which imparted another major tenant of the Intentional Creativity Movement which is the importance of community and the idea that we are all connected by an Invisible Red Thread.

For the next part of the morning session, Milagros Suriano-Rivera, Intentional Creativity Teacher and Multimedia Artist, led the group on an Intentional Creativity activity where we made passport size “Festival Journals.” She described it as making a “portal to your own personal festival.” Milagros definitely created a magical experience for us where we could feel like mystical travelers excitedly preparing for the day’s adventures. Before gently sending us on our way, Milagros shared another gift to us by sharing a touching poem Titled, “Because I Am”.

I’m letting go of yesterday
Today is on my mind
This present, this now
I am here
Being
Wishing
Creating with my heart
Connected by the Red Thread
To the Universe
Breathing in this moment
I am letting go of tomorrow
I may get there soon enough
But this now
This moment
is so precious
It is demanding to be cherished
Without it
Tomorrow may never be
As beautiful
as only I can imagine it
Because I Am.

Following this beautiful opening session, we moved on to the Featured Intentional Creativity Workshop with Shiloh Sophia who showed us how to draw and paint women dancing using three techniques including: Intuitive Gesture, Stick Figure to Full Figure, and Continuity Contour. The very same techniques she used to create the cover of Pulitzer Prize winning Alice Walker’s Book, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing. Participants really enjoyed learning these techniques to Shiloh’s free spirited directions such as, “Imagine your inner voice connecting to your hand that draws,” and “now just fatten up those stick figures.” Some of the comments given by festival goers to describe this experience include: “freeing, fulfilling, joyful, gratifying, valuable, and exuberant”. Shiloh also encouraged participants to consider letting go of perfectionism when drawing in favor of staying loose and having fun. Something she pointed at that several of the Masters did as their careers evolved.

Shiloh also informed us that she was moved to choose this topic as her teaching because women dancing together symbolizes the “Spirit of Friendship” in such a way that would be “honoring of the Art Matriarchs of our Intentional Creativity Community and the special bond of friendship between them”. (Sue Hoya Sellars, Caron McCloud, and Lenore Thomas Strauss). She also wisely reminded us that as women we already intuitively know how to draw ourselves stating that, “You just have to feel the shape of dancing in your body to remember.”

*Muse inspired music by Juniper Mainelis, Intentional Creativity Teacher and Grammy Nominated recording artist was played throughout this session.*

After a short break the festivities reconvened with Lavender Grace Cinnamon, Frame Drummer, Songstress, and BeeKeeper. We traveled from a place of drawing dancing women to a land of being the dancing women. Lavender led us on an enchanting voyage of sound, spoken word, song, movement, and meditation, where she encouraged us to find our own rhythms, voices, and intuition as she guided us through a journey of reconnection back to our ancient ancestors including the one ancient mother of all who she at one point charmingly referred to as the “OG of Creation.” In addition, she also mesmerized us as a performer which included an ornately adorned belt that served as additional percussion instrument. She then took questions from the audience which, true to her name, she answered very gracefully with offerings of book recommendations such as: The Healing Journey of the Black Madonna, and, When the Drummers Were Women. Furthermore, she announced that World Bee Day is May 20th and asked that we please honor these brilliant creatures who sustain the heart of life and so much beauty for our ecosystem. Lavender also shared with us that she enjoys working with our community because she believes that, “Singing, Dancing, and Drumming is the opening for Intentional Creativity.”

If you would like to follow Lavender’s work or be in contact with her, you can find her at:

Honeyhivemendo.com

The next workshop in our travels took us to a world of whimsical fun with an Intentional Creativity activity by Lauren Adorna-Weatherford, Intentional Creativity Teacher, Elder, and BIWOC leader. Lauren showed us a beautiful slideshow of modern headdresses and taught us how we can Embody the Goddess Archetype through making lovely headdresses with simple found treasures around each of our homes and basic craft items. Lauren encouraged us to identify who “we were the Goddesses of for this day” at which point we had some very interesting surprise visitors join us. The Goddess of Orchids (Lauren) made an appearance, as did The Goddess of Revealing Old Stories, The Goddess of Water, and the Goddess of Adventure among others. We were encouraged to continue to work on our headdresses throughout the weekend if we wanted and lucky participants of this lovely session got to add these as a third piece of “swag” to their festival goodie bags.

Spirit Warrior Exhibit Opening was the first show of the night. It was a solo exhibit of the art of Native American elder, Carmen Baraka. This show was created as an honoring of Carmen’s life and legacy as an artist, teacher, activist and leader, and all she’s given to our community and so many others. The show was hosted by Curator, Shiloh Sophia, Mary Macdonald, and Crystal Easton. Crystal sang a powerful “Grandmother Song” and Shiloh read a very moving letter written and sent to her by Carmen. After the virtual show of Carmen’s art, a very moving recording of Carmen’s voice was played that was recorded in November of 2020 at the annual Vivid Conference. Those present found it so moving and comforting to hear the voice and inspiration from this incredible elder, who has now walked on. This was a very powerful show by a powerful artist and activist with many tears of grief and gratitude shared throughout.

Visit the Spirit Warrior Exhibit

The Good Relations Pledge and the Walking Ways of Allyship was the next session of the evening hosted by Curator, Shiloh Sophia and Indigenous leader Crystal Easton. During this session Shiloh began by presenting about the Good Relations Pledge that is inspired by the Indigenous cultural leaders, scholars and artists within the community of MUSEA – The Intentional Creativity Foundation 501(c)3. The philosophy inspiring this work is that “we can’t wait around for our governments to take action”. That we as citizens can make an impact toward being allies to Indigenous peoples around the world in our everyday lives.

Crystal then graciously and very courageously guided us through a model she developed that is based on the medicine wheel about how to walk in ways of allyship. She described it as a, “Four Directions Tour in the Arena of Indigenous Resistance.” Crystal was kind enough to share her own lineage as a Metis and Cree woman. She covered such topics as intergenerational trauma and governmental led approaches for system reacculturation of indigenous people. Crystal provided this very important education with patience, stopping often to check in with the group on how we were doing emotionally with learning about such topics. She also emphasized the importance of self care when on the journey toward learning about allyship and spoke about the concept of “Sacred Activism”.

**If you would like to learn more about Crystal’s amazing work, and learn about walking ways of allyship, you join one of Crystal’s highly-recommended upcoming workshops here:

TheCreativeSpiritStudio.com

From this potent presentation, we flawlessly segwayed into the second Art Exhibit of the Evening. This show was a group exhibit titled Women Woven Together. This was Musea’s first ever “Open” Art Call for artists both within and beyond our Intentional Creativity community. Hosted by Curator, Shiloh Sophia, and Curatorial Director Amber Gould it was a show that was first inspired many years ago in 2013 at Shiloh’s inaugural presentation for the annual United Nations Commission on The Status of Women. She has since continued to lead this presentation for the past seven years including moving to online during the pandemic with the most recent being this month.

For this exhibit there were a hundred and forty-six submissions by female artists from around the world to this Juried show and, after much difficult deliberation, fifty-nine incredible works of art were curated into a poignantly touching slideshow depicting what it looks like to have women woven together in connection with one another, nature, and family. Prior to the beginning of the viewing Shiloh asked the audience to ponder this concept, “when women reclaim their own image then the culture will shift”.

The show was accompanied by the heartwarming song “She Carries Me” by Jennifer Berezan, and the end result was hardly a dry eye in the entire virtual museum. Responses such as, “Splendid, speechless, life changing, heart lifting, empowering, and more were offered. After the viewing, Amber led an impressive and informative artist’s talk by four of the artists about their work: Paula Dejoie, Sumaiyah Yates, Colleen Crotty-Good, and Ishka Lha. Ishka also shared a video of her remarkable original music that was inspired by her painting, Indigo.

Visit the Women Woven Together Exhibit

For all women. Everywhere.

We see you. We are with you.

We are woven together.

And there is strength

in the weave.

After a brief break, we moved from this powerfully emotional show to a discussion on the topic of “The Magic of Feminine Evolution” by Sylvia Becker-Hill. With vulnerable personal sharing, infectious enthusiastic passion, and great humor, Sylvia tackled a tough topic: “concepts of matriarchy and patriarchy and discovering how these two epochs of human evolution can empower you for your life now.” Sylvia provided information about the history of these topics and led us on an Intentional Creativity Metacognitive Drawing exercise to further explore our own experience. Through the perspective lens of her expertise in change management, Sylvia provided much refreshing reassurance about the development of society toward a more equitable distribution of power between the sexes going forward into the future and how this can greatly contribute to the healing of the planet. She shared research from her Master’s Thesis with us and recommended the following books: Dancing Goddess and The Language of The Body. Sylvia left many of us laughing and feeling more light hearted about this difficult subject matter through her charismatic teaching style. If you would like to connect with her, she is easily found on the IMusea app and is happy to answer any questions.

For the final event of the day, the laughing continued into Open Mic night hosted by Intentional Creativity Teachers, Amber Gould and Gisela Pineiro. Literally, the entire first twelve minutes of this session were spent laughing, as we were graced with the presence of comedian, Annie Zimbel, who – along with Amber’s help as a volunteer – taught us all a thing or two about the magic of laughter! The hourlong open mic was filled to the brim with the ‘Many Muses’ sharing their incredible poetry, song, readings, and powerful creativity. It was inspiring, invigorating and so much fun, with women expressing a sense of being uplifted and nourished by attending this wonderful session of open sharing.

The first ever Many Muses Festival turned out to be a huge success with much enthusiastic feedback such as “it was incredible,” “Just what I needed,” “wonderful combination of important education and playful fun,” “love my swag bag,” “can’t wait for the next one,” and much more. Due to all of the wonderful feedback and recognition of the need for a space in our community to continue celebrating Women and Women Artists in this special way, Musea is planning on making this an annual event whether in person (pandemic allowing), on-line, or a combination of both so remember to mark your calendars for next March!

We want to offer special thanks to the Intentional Creativity Foundation along with Shiloh Sophia and Jonathan McCloud for providing the funding for this festival in service to the nurturing and strengthening of our community and all those who have chosen to gather with us. We are incredibly grateful for your generosity and love.

We offer thanks to our festival Presenters Shiloh Sophia, Crystal Easton, Milagros Suriano-Rivera, Lavender Grace, Lauren Adorno-Weatherford, and Sylvia Becker-Hill for offering your gifts to our community. Each and every session was unique, engaging and inspiring!

We also want to acknowledge and thank our Festival Organizer and Host, Amber Samaya Gould, for her beautiful work in carefully weaving all the details of this festival together, ensuring it was a wonderful experience for all attendees and presenters.

Thank you also to our incredible Festival Hosts, Chatelle Jeram and Gisela Pineiro, as well as our Zoom Hosts, Mary Ann Matthys and Marnie Dangerfield for holding the circle container so well! Thank you Maia Lemann and Sarah Mardell for your support with communications. We have such an incredible team!

To, your, our festival attendees, thank you for showing up and taking your place as one of the Many Muses of our community! We can’t wait to be with you again!

Article written by

Jessica holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy. She is an Intentional Creativity Teacher and Coach, and is a member of the Musea Co-Curators Discovery Team as the magazine Lead.