Landscapes of the Sacred Feminine
Martina Hoffmann is a painter and sculptress whose imagery has been inspired by expanded states of consciousness: the realms of the imagination, meditation, shamanic journeys and the dream state. The unique iconography of her painted landscapes reveal a deep connection to the sacred feminine while her sculptural work is undeniably influenced by African energy. She has exhibited her work and spoken on behalf of visionary art and culture internationally and teaches visionary painting workshops together with her husband the American Fantastic Realist, Robert Venosa.
Interview with Michael Robinson, Creative Director of Reality Sandwich:
1. What's your personal mantra?
Every one of our actions affects reality as a whole, so impeccability is of the essence. This is my mantra.
"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." Chief Seattle, 1854
2. What does the role of Artist mean to you?
Art reflects the state of the world and its sentiments about all aspects of life as seen through one person’s individual consciousness. It encapsulates tidbits of our reality reproduced as symbols. These symbols are being reflected back into the world and reinforce our ideas about the current culture. So the role of the artist is to reflect the signs of the time and to question and offer alternatives at the same time. This is where I see great potential for using art as a tool for change and transformation, as we could create imagery, which inspires a spirit-based reality, a life, that supports true beauty and peace to counterbalance the daily flood of images portraying the horrors of wars and violent destruction.
The visionary artist in particular makes visible the more subtle and intuitive states of our existence and produces symbols and maps that reflect consciousness. This gives us a great responsibility and places us in a role of introducing a deeper angle on reality. Interestingly, a global visionary culture has been building momentum for quite some time now, and it is surprising to see how the rules of making and presenting art have changed here. As a visionary artist I’m highly aware of the intention and inspiration that was invested in the creation of an outstanding cultural esthetic, indigenous to this particular subculture, which has also made the artist a very integral part of its evolution. Here the artist has a unique opportunity to share their work within the context of a living community that focuses less on the commercial aspects of presenting art, but more on the enriching exchange of energy and inspiration between artist and viewer.
Personally I see my role as a translator of visions to be shared with the curious and those who have traveled the spirit realms and would love to see their experiences confirmed. My process of painting is very stream of consciousness, and quite like experiencing a dream in the waking state, or the state of meditation for me. Creating art is my magical ride into a state of being where the veil between the worlds remains open and a continuous transference of information becomes possible. Oracles have worked in this way since the beginning of time.
3. What is the driving force behind your creativity?
To create is synonymous to breathing for most artists. If you don’t create you slowly loose your center. So my primary driving forces are my sanity, emotional survival and a form of selfish indulgence, as creating art simply makes my day, and painting fills me with excitement, gives me a sense of deep satisfaction and joy besides being extremely stimulating and empowering. It has always been the essential and most important part of my life, and I like to think of it as a fine way to nourish my soul, as sitting down in front of my easel is a sure path for me to connect with my spirit and the source. Another great perk is the facility of getting in touch with my innermost fears and shadows through my creations. In essence, making honest art means facing ourselves at the deepest levels.
Beyond the personal there is a great need in me to find beauty in all things. This beauty may appear within the shadow at times but there’s a recognizable esthetic wherever we encounter her.
Another force that has directed me is the divine feminine and its power. Much of my work explores ways in which its strength can be re-integrated and honored for the greater benefit of us all. This would bring about a healthier balance between the masculine and feminine forces and give us a chance to heal and transform the planet’s overall state of woundedness.
Generally speaking, and this is true for most artists, I’m inspired by life itself and all its amazing angles and facets. So the aspects of whatever my senses are capable of capturing in everyday life will find their way into my work in one form or another.
4. What transformative experiences have influenced your life and how has that manifested in your work?
My first conscious memories of such experiences stem from episodes of childhood migraine headaches, which caused strange visual as well as auditory hallucinations. Also, having had a very rich dream life opened up yet more portals into alternate realities. In other words, like most artists I’ve not been a stranger to the wonders of the subconscious mind and its surreal visions for the most part of my life. But I was truly amazed at the magical and ephemeral superconscious realities that I was to encounter when I traveled to the rainforests of South America. There the plant teacher, ayahuasca, used by the indigenous tribes in spiritual rituals and healing work for ages, pushed my gates of perception open wider than I ever could have imagined. And these experiences have transformed my artistic expression from tales of worldly visions to records of alien worlds and alternate realities containing an intelligence of a truly breathtaking velocity. The usage of this sacrament is legal under the auspices of the Santo Daime and Uñoa Vegetal Churches in Brazil as well as in indigenous settings in the Amazon.
My most recent paintings honor that ‘mother consciousness’ which resides within ayahuasca. It is a deeply healing energy entity and transformational to the core. While she unconditionally loves us, she may at the same time radically strip away the illusionary debris from every fiber of our existence. The work requires great preparation, should be used under the guidance of an experienced shaman or healer, and is intensely magical and beautiful.
The language of this realm is purely visual, and the possibilities of form and color perceived are seemingly infinite. The navigational technology is based on synesthesia*, in other words the sound of the shaman’s singing of the so-called ‘icaros’ songs during ayahuasca sessions modifies the visions for his patient while under the influence of the medicine. (It’s much more complicated and involved, but this is it in nutshell).
The teachings offered by the medicine through an infinite cornucopia of mind-boggling visions have been so astounding and transformational in my life that I’ve been trying to capture and share them to the best of my abilities ever since. Most of the time I feel that I’m only chasing them, but getting a little closer each time.
My Muse is generally a very accommodating friend, and it is a curious thing how she overworks my senses during full moon nights. As my hyperactive consciousness tries to escape into slumber, it gets somehow lodged in the hypnogogic state for long hours. Although this can potentially be very intense, I quite enjoy these automatic visionary states during which I revisit my life’s experiences, including the spaces of my shamanic travels, and get to download it all into paintable image bites.
Another life changing experience was the time I spent in Cameroun, West Africa as a child. Needless to say, living in a city surrounded by deep jungle as a white minority in an exotic black culture so diametrically opposed to my German country of origin, gave me a profound insight into our human differences as well as our similarities. Culturally, Cameroon is a very rich country with its various tribes, religions, languages, outstanding arts and crafts and a powerful primal nature, which greatly complements this cultural abundance. The feminine is very pronounced and artists throughout the country are portraying fertile goddesses in sculpted form. Although my family and I knew nothing about Africa when we first moved there, it was to become our home, and shape our hearts and minds in the most unexpected and wonderful ways. So later, while studying art in Germany, after my return from Cameroon, the sacred feminine that I first encountered in the tropics, became one of my most inspired creative topics.
* A neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
5. How long does it take you on average to complete a piece of work, and do you ever do several pieces simultaneously?
A painting takes me anywhere from several days to several months to complete. The time frame largely depends on my personal process with the piece and on how clear a channel I can become in order to download the wealth of information that tries to squeeze itself through my third eye onto the canvas. In the case of my ‘Goddess Triangle’, a 20’ x 10’ multi-media installation piece, consisting of nine painted panels, sculpted elements as well as sound, the complete creation process took seven years. Off course there were interruptions, and I was required, as always, to follow the flow dictated by my muse and the creative forces, which is always out of my ballpark.
In most cases I try to focus on one painting at a time and will only shift temporarily to a second piece should logistics, such as too wet a paint surface, demand this.
6. Why should people check out your work?
That’s a tough question to be asked as an artist, but here its is:
Everybody has experienced the moment of waking from a meaningful dream, or what it feels like to return from a deep state of meditation...there's a sense of awe and wonder. We feel connected to a higher truth and might have a sense of an all-pervasive love. Fear only enters the picture if we are not able to open to that larger awareness. What we feel is a touch of the divine, which lies just beyond the veil that seemingly separates this reality from all others. To portray these fleeting moments of connectedness, as well as the changes and transformations that our contact with it brings to us, has been at the heart of my work.
In my paintings I attempt to show spirit as the one universal force beyond the confines of cultural and religious differences. This will hopefully create more awareness of our similarities as a human species rather than pointing to our differences, and this is what I hope to share with viewer when they do have the opportunity to check out my work. Maybe my art could become a mirror for that crowd out there, waiting to see their inner worlds reflected on canvas.
One of the more profound messages that I’ve been able to glimpse through the creative process is: "If we allow it, there is no limitation to form and content.” This contains great assurance for an infinite number of angles and solutions to almost any problem.
In using art as a tool for transformation, I see an opportunity for all to create a reality as beautiful, healthy and strong as our imagination permits.
If any of this interests you, come on down to my studio and take a peak.
7. How does your work affect Consciousness, and what are your views on the evolution of consciousness?
I’ve witnessed creating art to be a most powerful tool in creating and shifting consciousness. And this connects us to the earliest forms of shamanism and the way the ancients manipulated and manifested their realities.
From the beginning of our human existence the urge to create has been sparked by a strong desire to communicate our deepest insights about who we are and our connection to a greater reality.
Countless visionaries throughout the ages have tirelessly carried the torch for this quest and produced works that have pushed the envelope and thereby been instrumental in our cultural evolution of consciousness. And I can only hope to be an honorable member of this ancient tradition.
Will I ever succeed in truly portraying the indescribable, all-pervasive mystery and manifest its beauty, which lies well beyond the confines of ordinary reality? Time will tell, but in the meantime I trust that I can inspire interest and a daring look into a broader spectrum of visual expression.
As we are starting to embrace a more global vision that focuses on human communication, our interdependancy and the understanding that we all originate from one source, we slowly allow for the dissolution of belief systems that only further separation and war. Much of my work hinges on these ideas and hopefully it does reflect them in an inspiring manner.
Although modern humans have largely been alienated from nature, spirit, and the very rituals that connect them to 'the source’, I have great hopes that this disconnect can be healed by Visionary Art and Culture. It incorporates a powerful synergy of the arts, music, technology, the mystical experience and philosophy.
While in times past visionary artists often worked on the fringes of society, having shared their insights and being recognized only by the far-seeing few, they now have a community for support and have been acknowledged to be part of the very forces that help shape its
consciousness and culture.
For more information about Martina Hoffmann and her work please visit: www.martinahoffmann.com.