"Art is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these."
~Ansel Adams

Monday, January 3, 2011

Travel Examiner Artist: June 2010: Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth: Part 2: The Interview

Pagan Travel Examiner Artist: June 2010: Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth: Part 2: The Interview

Pagan Travel Examiner Artist: June 2010: Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth: Part 2: The Interview

June 13, 11:34 AMPagan Travel ExaminerPaula Jean West

PW – The Pagan Travel Examiner Artist of the Month for June 2010 is Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth. Rev. Alicia has had a long and increasingly exciting career as an artist, an author, the amazing festival organizer of the Beltaine: A Pagan Odyssey Festival and an incredible woman of spirit. Thank you for joining us today Alicia!
AF- Thank you so much for the kind words, I am really honored. This is the first time anyone has interviewed me about my art, and something that I do outside of my temple
PW—The readers have already enjoyed a lot of biographic detail about you in my intro article about your life and your many talents. Tell us something we don’t know, something that is unique about yourself that I may have overlooked in the opening biographical article.
AF- It’s a lot to fit because I do so much! I didn’t even realize that until I began writing it all down.
In the previous article it was mentioned about co-hosting a cable access television show, and I plan on doing my own now on ‘real’ Traditional Witchcraft and Paganism. As with our Beltaine festival, I would like to invite authors, Elders and leaders to speak to educate; they have messages that need to be passed to the next generation. These also need to be people of integrity. Although it might only be a small part, I would like to play a role in this and add my own voice.
I do spend much of my time engaged in temple work in one form or another, and I teach. I believe I have worn every hat there is. It’s a good thing I’m a creative person – my skills have come in very handy.
Right now I’m rebuilding my temple after my divorce as well as my life, and so it’s even more of a priority. I also am a survivor, having broken my silence very publicly two years ago. I am sure there are many people who would just as soon not wish that I mention this, but I don’t hide it, and it led to some of my work being published in Voices of Survivors by Vanilla Heart Publishing. My own book will be coming out of that experience eventually. Finding my voice freed me, and in doing so I have given other women the courage to do the same. You have to walk this walk to understand; to be able to help others who have survived abuse, violence, and assault. No amount of training would ever prepare someone if they haven’t already lived it. So in a very real sense I am more useful to the Gods now than I was before.
 I am now even more protective of women and children in our community, and I already was before. I am becoming an advocate and an activist for change, for women’s and victim’s rights. I still am finding my own healing in helping others.
For myself, I am a good cook, vegetarian for the last 12 years. I like to spend time alone, sometimes in nature, or with my pets. I like it quiet, and being on my own gives me the time I need to do everything, and to reflect and think.

PW—How does the creative process start for you? Is there anything special you need to make the process work for you?
AF- The creative process for my art usually starts when someone hires me to create. I know that sounds terrible, but I’m really busy – likely the busiest ‘technically-unemployed’ person you are ever to meet. The temple work alone is a full time job. Some of my biggest inspiration comes from my dreams.
For my writing, now that’s a different story. Writing is my therapy more than my art, and in some ways it is more personal since most miss the soul of the artist in their work. I am struck by something usually that I just have to get down on paper, and then the writing begins. I actually have four different books I am working on, and then there are also the ones in my head.
Honestly, I am not sure in many ways where my creative process begins because it never ends. While I do not have an abundance of physical energy (never have) I do have an abundance of mental energy. About the only time I stop processing is in meditation or ritual, and ritual is a very creative act within itself.
PW—What made you choose the path of “artist” as a career path? What was the first creative spark that set you off down this path?
AF- Although I always felt I would become an artist, life is what happens when you are making plans. My real career, although unpaid, is as a priestess. As far as the first creative spark, all I can think of is story of Ma Lein and the Magic Brush. There is some part of me that still feels I can bring my creations magically to life as the boy did with his brush; on some level, I do feel I accomplish that. Take the painting of Artemis for example, I had to connect with deity to paint her, and so that essence of Her, and part of myself went into that painting. She doesn’t feel ‘flat’ to me. In the Goddess with Fruit Panel, you will notice that her eyes are glowing in one of the pictures – something special happened with that painting as well.
PW—Is the path of “artist” your day job? What other ways do you use to support your mission in life?
AF-- I am rebuilding my life and career. My store failed with the recession, which I had chosen to do to free myself of the corporate world. I was so tired of living in the broom closet on any level – we shouldn’t have to do it. So since the economy is terrible, so are my chances of getting back into graphic design in a corporate setting, and I am getting older. I am just starting to paint again after twenty years, and I am hoping this, and my writing will be my ticket to a new career. Although I do not have a teaching degree I can indeed teach art in a way where the student truly improves. I am happy to do commissions and graphics upon request and I am rather efficient since I was doing this in the corporate world for so long. I am good at making my customers happy and giving them what they want. This isn’t something that all artists can do. It’s hard, but I have learned how to detach from my work.
PW--What has been your favorite “artistic moment” in your life so far?
AF— The painting of Artemis is a personal best for so many reasons, and yet I still see flaws, and know I will do the next painting a little bit better. The composition completely works. I surprised myself that I have grown as an artist while doing design and production work, and I am not sure how.
PW—Do you have any personal favorite or favorites among your artwork?
AF— My more recent artwork, my photos (which are also something of an addiction), and my almost life size ‘snow unicorn’ sculpture I created when I was still in high school. To me, the computer graphics and illustrations are always missing that magical spark only the human hand can create.
PW—What has been your favorite moment in life so far? When? Where? Why?
AF—That’s an interesting question. I believe I have many moments and not a single one. For me it’s an odd question because my life is more than a little surreal as I live between the worlds more often than not. So rather than answer that question directly, I am going to give the readers some advice. The Gods, your ancestors, and the world of spirit, are always listening. Always watching. Speak, and the universe will find a way to answer. When it answers, those are my favorite moments; they are filled with beauty, Mystery, and worth living for.
PW-- Tell us about your Pagan path. When did you first know you were Pagan? How would you describe your spiritual path now? Has it changed over the years? What is your path at this time?
AF—I could write a book on that, but I will try to keep it simple.
I follow ‘The Path’ because in reality that is the only path there is, it’s our own perceptions and interpretations that make it different. There is an old Welsh saying that “All rivers flow to the ocean,” and so it is with religion. But ‘The Path’ will remain, unchanged, like a mountain that looked down and seen it’s species, inhabitants and cultures come and go over the millennia. It’s there to be climbed or not, it’s our choice. For me, Paganism is the way I choose to get there.
My first introduction to Paganism was through Wicca, and in meeting Zanoni Silverknife. When I met her I was still Christian, and I had no concept of anything outside of that. I decided I was Pagan about a year after I initially met her, but she had moved to the West Coast by then. I was a Celtic reconstructionist for a long time before coming back to Wicca through my first Craft teacher, Rowan.
I am part Cherokee, and I am fortunate that I have been able to explore a Native path through others as an adult. It was something that I tried very hard to connect to and explore as a child through books and to a limited extent, television. What I have always had is a deep love of nature, and I connected with it in a very personal way when I was young. I grew up with half a mountainside as my playground.
To answer your question of has my path changed over the years – no, but the way I walk it has. One of the biggest changes for me was becoming part of a tradition, and changing the structure of our temple to having both a core tradition and a coven. It’s what I am meant to do. Odyssean as a tradition does not require me to give up anything that I was already doing; it was so named because it recognizes that we all must walk our own path. I love learning about practices and religions outside my own.
PW—In addition to your artwork, you are also a very good writer. Where did you learn your writing skills? What other writing endeavors are you considering?
AF- Thank you for the compliment. Where did I learn my writing skills? That tickles me because I am mildly dyslexic although I did well in English in school. I almost was put in special classes for it. Thank heavens that they took me to a specialist who told the school officials to stop wasting his time and to keep me in regular classes. It is my artistic gift, my spatial ability, which is exceptionally high that causes it. I can visualize something completely in my mind and turn it around much like three-dimensional programs do on a computer
If it weren’t for the computer, I wouldn’t be much of a writer though. A typewriter would still put me into tears!
Since I Iove to read, I would say reading books and articles written by good writers is the best influence. You learn what is effective. The computer also was a saving grace here. Keeping up in chat rooms and email over the years has forced me to sharpen my pen. For my words to count they must hit their target and stick, so all this ‘goofing off’ I have been doing on the internet over the years has helped tremendously! It has kept me writing, and to be a writer you have to write. I put together a Pagan magazine for our temple in our early years and that forced me to write articles, and I have been writing ritual and meditations for the temple for almost 15 years. I also now have three years of classes I have put together and I have done much writing for them as well. I’ve been busy.
There are things I would like to do, such as restarting my tarot column again and working on my books. I like to work on projects that overlap and feed each other so that everything I do will flow its energy into another project. At some point I would like to do my own series of children’s books. They are going to take a long time to illustrate, and I don’t believe in cutting corners. When I create something I always hope it will outlive me.

PW—What advice do you have for aspiring spiritual artists? How have things changed over the last 20-30 years?
AF—I’m not sure that I have much in the way of advice since I am finding my own way right now. The illustration market has completely changed over the last 20 years due to the computer. What the human hand once created can now be created on the computer with far less skill, and to my mind, far less heart. Pagans as a whole love art and we are drawn to it, so that gives me hope in finding a niche within my own community. I expect that even the publishing industry will eventually change as it becomes a point of marketing to produce visually appealing books. People buy ‘pretty books.’ We are just starting to get back to our roots as Pagans, recalling a time when the arts were very much a part of our ancient temples. I’m rather excited about that, as we are just beginning to explore our own cultural renaissance as a religious community.
PW- What is the key to your incredible stamina as an artist, organizer and all round amazing woman? How have you kept going on at such a wonderful pace for the last few years?
AF—I suppose it looks that way to some if you don’t know. I am still healing from three years ago, and my stamina has been slowly coming back. My pace is not what it had previously been, and my mistake in choosing someone who was an abuser almost cost me everything. I have hung onto my temple and my festival just barely and painfully, but I’ve done it. To stop at all would have meant giving up my dreams and I couldn’t let him take that away from me too.
What has always kept me going is heartfire. I am my own offering before the Gods, and I don’t want to let Them down. I made a promise and I intend to keep it. I can’t let anything or anyone stop me from ‘the work’ I must do.
I saw a phoenix in the clouds that covered the sky as the sun was setting two years ago – I have a picture of it. It was a sign. A psychic friend of mine said before then I had a phoenix-like aspect to my spirit, and that I would rise again. What you are now witnessing is that I am being reborn again out of my own ashes.
PW—What other artists have inspired you over the years? Who is your favorite artist?
AF—Fantasy artists like Rowena and Michael Whelan, Pre-Raphaelite artists, and other female artists in general. I love Robin Wood’s work – to me she is the top Pagan artist.
PW—What Pagan or similar genre artist would you most like to meet and why?
AF—I did meet Rowena many years ago, and I would love to be able to speak with her again. She does old school fantasy illustration, and is still top-notch. If you love fantasy art and don’t know who she is, you should.

PW—What is the next big project on the horizon now that your festival is growing and your artwork is receiving more recognition?
AF—More like lots of little and medium sized projects. Being prolific and flexible, I believe, may very well be the key to success. I’ll have to see where life takes me since I have had to change course.
One of the things I would like to be known for is devotional art, and I do create commissioned pieces, including large works for the home or temple space – both public and private. More and more people are creating elaborate temple space in their homes. Even if someone lives far away, I can always paint on something that can be transported and mounted after.
The festival has a life of its own, and it will be what it will be although I work hard all year for just those four days. We have one more year of recession, which is holding us back, and then I believe we will truly be ready to grow.
PW—Is there anything else you would say to your fans and followers?
AF—Fans and followers? I don’t know about that. I just run a little temple with a big festival, write, and now create art once more.
I just have friends, and they know who they are. If it wasn’t for them, the support of so many in the community, I wouldn’t have been able to get back up again. It’s been the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I am stronger for it. Knowing that there were people cheering me on helped me find my courage to continue. That love is now paying forward.
PW—Thank you so much, Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth, for sharing your time and experience with us today. I would like to thank you, personally, for becoming my friend so naturally after we met recently at the Beltaine: A Pagan Odyssey Festival this past May. From your first phone call to me, I have felt we were destined to be great friends. You have been a huge inspiration to me to produce this new “featured pagan” series of articles and to help my brother and sister Pagans by featuring all the exquisite talent we have lurking in our community. It is my privilege to help you let your light shine. And shine it has. Yesterday, my Examiner column was ranked number FOUR in the nation in the travel category. It delights me that this was achieved by helping others achieve their goals as well. Now people everywhere, in every walk of life, know how much beauty and talent we have within the greater Pagan and Earth-centered spirituality communities. Thank you for your help in making this possible!
AF—Four is the number of my Goddess, and everything happens for a reason. I am so happy that our paths have crossed. I am so honored to be the first Pagan artist in this series of articles. It’s lovely to meet someone with some of the same philosophies I hold, such as, “When one of us succeeds, we all win!” Much love to you dear Paula! Shine on!
Blessed Be!
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