Discovering the “Authentic” Self Through Spirit Art
Interview with Visionary Artist Marsha Bakko
By Jill V. Mangino
Visionary Artist Marsha Bakko’s Goddess Spirit Art invokes what she calls the “innate wisdom of our soul”. She has created a series of Goddess Montages that incorporate rich color, symbology and inspiring invocations. She believes that through tapping into our own creativity we can use it as a vehicle for healing and discovering our “authentic” selves. In 1999, Marsha founded 21st Century Goddess, a company devoted to empowering others through the medium of art. She has recently launched a line of fine art prints, original abstract watercolor paintings, several greeting card lines and an exquisite 2002 Calendar, which combines her powerfully moving images with poetic, wisdom-filled astrological annotations. I had the opportunity to meet with her in her Rancho Santa Fe home…
JILL: What inspired you to choose art as a form of self-expression and self-empowerment?
MARSHA: I didn’t actually choose art, it chose me. If someone would have told me I would be leaving my corporate job and creating art full-time I would not have believed it! I had been working in Venture Capital doing office management/administrative type work for years, and had begun to feel a deep void. I was searching for creative outlets and tried several different classes including stenciling, feng shui, creative visualization and morning pages from the Artist Way. Something special and mysterious began to bubble up inside of me. I could feel it and felt it was right around the corner but I didn’t have a clue what it was.
I was also married at the time and going through lots of personal transformation. It was through beginning to peel the layers of the onion down that I started to catch a glimpse of who I really was and begin a relationship with who I’ve always been. It was after my divorce, after I had completely and irrevocably committed to me and my journey, that my creativity came flowing in like a raging river. I innocently started with one montage (collage) after a telephone conversation with a girlfriend. I did another collage and showed them to an artist friend. She mentioned doing artwork in a series. So it was two words in two different conversations that got me started. As I began to do more montages, I noticed they were chronicling my own healing journey.
JILL: You had mentioned that your divorce also acted as a catalyst for you to explore your “creative” side. How did your divorce support your “personal transformation”?
MARSHA: It was shortly after my divorce that I had been referred to Dr. Lisa Longworth from three different sources. I thought, well . . . three times is a charm, so I made an appointment with Lisa. Her mentoring program combined psychology, spirituality and expressive arts therapy to support change, growth and healing. I arrived with an open heart and Lisa connected with me at a very deep level and was able to penetrate to the core of my deepest pain and sorrow, as well as my innermost joy and magnificence.
I began what became a 9-month birthing process, wherein I started my own company — 21st Century Goddess, created over 44 pieces of artwork, developed a website and journaled hundreds of pages while continuing to work part time in my administrative position. It was a time of prolific creativity and profound dreaming where very deep healing took place on many levels during my journey towards discovery of my true authentic self. I feel that it is through our deepest pain that our creative genius surfaces, and our deepest transformation.
JILL: Many think of Goddess energy as being solely female but you have mentioned that Goddess speaks of the balance of male/female or the yin and yang.
MARSHA: I define Goddess as the perfect balance of male/female energy within. Goddess is “inclusive” — no one is left out. Goddess contains the name God, Woman contains the name man, Female contains the name male. That doesn’t work the other way around. For so long females had to be warriors just trying to gain recognition and equal rights and pay — thereby incorporating more of their male energy. However, in this 21st Century I see and feel how the balancing of the male with the female energies brings about a much more natural and harmonious state of being.
JILL: What made you decide to turn your montages into greeting cards and prints?
MARSHA: Even though at first I felt the images and invocations to be very personal, as more and more people saw and reacted so strongly to the images, I realized they were very healing for others as well, and that our journeys are all basically the same. I believe we’re all on the path of gathering the fragments of ourselves, light and shadow, and integrating them into our journey toward discovery of authentic self.
JILL: You consider yourself a “visionary” artist — what does that mean?
MARSHA: To me visionary means allowing that which is not seen or felt in the usual way to come through and express.
JILL: My favorite image is the Goddess of Truth. In your invocation you wrote… “Through speaking our truth with love we take in the nectar of life”. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned speaking our truth with love. So often we can speak the truth without compassion and often hurt those we love.
MARSHA: So often we speak our truth without love — our buttons get pushed, we’re tired, irritated, in the heat of the moment, coming from our head/ego. In speaking our truth with love this means coming from who we are about, not blaming, but taking full responsibility for our truth. Not suppressing, not trying to be nice, but being authentic in a loving way and taking the time to speak from the heart not the head. It is through circumstances like these that we can come to love and honor ourselves, take complete responsibility for our choices and create the life we want to live, and work through our issues . . . finally coming to understand it is not about the other person and never really was.
JILL: You talk about the “beginning of my becoming” — can you explain more about that?
MARSHA: The “beginning of my becoming” as I have termed it, was a reference to a more authentic, focused, conscious awareness of my own journey. Consciously allowing to surface and processing the shadow and light parts of self. Those parts of the self that have been fragmented, suppressed, buried, etc. and recovered. At other times, it is an allowing of that which no longer serves to drop away. But at all times, it is the awareness of and courage to process these sometimes painful layers of self.
JILL: How did the creation of the solar deities and lunar divas series transpire?
MARSHA: The solar deities and lunar divas series were a little different process than the montage series as these were done as abstract watercolors and came from my direct contact with nature.
The solar deities series was inspired from my visits to the beach at sunset. One night in particular, August 8, 1999, I felt I was gifted with my own personal light show as the sun was setting. I became transfixed and mesmerized by the magnificent colors of brilliant rose, yellow, violet and blue. It felt as if the colors had messages and when I closed my eyes I would see brilliant color and images in my third eye. I felt like I was seeing into another dimension. The colors were so alive. It was after these experiences that I would go home, get out my watercolors and just let the colors come to me and the images express through.
I had a similar experience one night while I was out walking my dog under the full moon and several images were presented to me through the moon and cloud formations. Again, these had feelings and messages, aside from the visual impact and became the lunar divas series.
I know some of my experiences and ways of thinking seem a bit far fetched at times and was amazed to come across the book by Glenda Green called Love Without End — Jesus Speaks. She was a nationally prominent artist with paintings in such museums as the Smithsonian and the Museum of the City of New York when Jesus appeared to her for the painting of his portrait. Also during this time he talked and she took notes. One of the things he said was “to watch the sun in the morning and the evening, because watching the sun can actually set your physical, etheric, and spiritual hearts into a harmonic resonance which will attract what you need and process what you have more perfectly.” I feel my direct contact with the Sun facilitated my own healing process and the bringing forth of my creativity.
JILL: Can you give an example of how these paintings were not only healing for you but others as well?
MARSHA: I did a watercolor I call “Emergence” which truly reflected my stepping forth on a whole new path and integrating more of my feminine energies. It resembles a goddess with the sun for the head, the crown chakra taking in enormous amounts of energy, surrounded by green (healing and new growth) and purple (spiritual) waters. In the heart chakra there appears to be a continent — an experiencing of a whole new world. I sold this painting recently to a woman who strongly connected with the energy and symbology. She had gone through a difficult divorce, moved in with her parents for a time and was diligently searching for an apartment. As soon as she purchased the painting, the next day a synchronistic event happened and she was able to get into the apartment complex she had been wanting to move into.
JILL: You have said that color, symbology and archetypes carry an energetic vibration — How does that work?
MARSHA: I feel subconsciously we are all affected by color, symbology and archetypal images — it’s contained in our DNA. Symbols constitute an ancient universal language and generates itself from the unconscious as a spontaneous expression of some deep inner intuitive wisdom that eludes direct expression. Everything in existence has a vibration. For instance, a bull cannot actually see the color red, since most mammals, except apes, are virtually colorblind but this does not mean that it is not affected by the red color vibration.
JILL: I love your 2002 wall calendar — why did you feel it was important to incorporate astrological interpretations.
MARSHA: Because of my own personal experience with the Sun and the Moon, I began to expand my consciousness on how the planets affect human behavior. I read an article written by astrologer Ken Kalb entitled The Grand Planetary Alignment of May 3, 2000 and World Illumination Day, where 7 planets would be in alignment. I loved Ken’s poetic writing style and deeply resonated with what he had to say. In particular, a couple of statements stood out — “The planets are external manifestations of internal components of our psychology, spinning vitally in our chakras. And speaking of the alignment, this time represents a spiritual opportunity for a great evocation of the powers of the soul; a grand remembrance and awakening of the eternal feminine or goddess energy within the collective psyche of humanity. Like a supernova birthing a new star, the nurturing and healing energy of the eternal feminine is being reborn on Earth.” Thereafter, I immediately contacted Ken to do the writing for the Calendar.
JILL: In your calendar you have highlighted when mercury goes retrograde what is the significance of this event?
MARSHA: Most people who know a little about astrology often talk about Mercury being in retrograde. For most, this is a time to use extra caution since it is considered by many to be a time of confusion. I felt it would be helpful to highlight this for ease of tracking and to increase awareness around all forms of communication.
JILL: Lately, I have felt drawn to start painting. How does someone start?
MARSHA: Don’t think too much about it. Have fun. It’s great to do abstract, because I feel it comes more from the feeling realm versus thinking you have to copy something. I share with people to do a simple meditation, then just intuitively start with the colors you are drawn to, don’t think, just feel, and let whatever is there come through. You will be surprised and amazed at the messages from your higher self that show up in abstract art.
Marsha Bakko’s Goddess Spirit Art is currently on display at The Vegetarian Zone, 2949 5th Avenue in San Diego (Hillcrest) and at the Del Mar Art Center at 1555 Camino Del Mar, # 308 in Del Mar. For information on prints, greeting cards or calendars visit www.21stcenturygoddess.com.
Jill Mangino is a freelance writer and President of Circle 3 Media. Based in San Diego she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Return to the September/October Index page