Many months ago we spoke with Angela Reimer, a visual artist and designer based in Vancouver, BC. She has combined her interest in psychology with her passion for art into her practice as an Art Therapist. Our conversations centered around beauty and societal expectations, and how we hope to shift the common narrative in our work. This special piece was created by her, for .eluo.Tell us about the beautiful collage you created for .eluo.
In these pieces I used textures of clay and stone, both as a nod to the materials of Eluo and as a representation of permanence through sculpture and ceramics. The faces with layers of texture are to emulate Eluo's masques as well as the complexity of our identities and self love.
When creating this piece for eluo, you referenced themes of self-love, permanence and impermanence. Settling into a state of mind and finding comfort in states like self love, rather than loving oneself in any particular state. You posed the question.."what would our world look like if we were all taught to love ourselves regardless of how we look?" Can you elaborate on that?
This question arose from my own journey of self acceptance. Growing up in an era of tabloid magazines enthusiastically body shaming women, runways exclusively casting ultra thin bodies and the media vilifying feminine expression of independence or sexuality, I unwittingly tied my intrinsic value to the way others perceive me. Good or bad, much of my developmental years were spent chasing perfection in pursuit of acceptance. I learned so many tactics, tricks and skills along the way with this goal in mind.
Now in my thirties, in a practice of self love, I can't help but wonder how different things might have been if I learned skills in pursuit of self-love?
What if self-compassion was promoted? How might my life be different?
At this moment, what inspires you?
I tend to receive inspiration from all types of sources, books, films, nature, places, people… I think what it comes down to is learning. Learning something new, a new way of seeing or thinking. Learning all that I wish I had known sooner, and there is so much I still need to learn. That to me is inspiring.
Explain the role that art has played in cultivating mindfulness or greater awareness?
I gravitated towards art since I was a child as a way to cope with confusing feelings like loneliness or anxiety. I realize now, looking back, I was self-regulating and grounding myself through art. When I make art now, I am more conscious of that quality.
Art allows me to process feelings that are hard to express in words, it helps me safely explore the things I’m normally afraid to admit or confront.
In this way, it helps not only cultivate mindfulness, it supports my self-acceptance.
What are some of the pillars of your ritual practice?
I’ve always wanted to be one of those people with daily routines and rituals and execute them with some sort of militant consistency. I’ve tried to be that person, I love that person, I am not that person. Because of this the most significant pillars to my ritual practice are kindness, acceptance, and understanding. Sometimes I forget to wash my face before bed, sometimes I spend 2 hours in the tub exfoliating my whole body, and both are ok. I think rituals can be a practice that you use when you need it, after all it's for you and just you.
What place does .eluo. hold in your rituals?
There is something really lovely about mixing a masque, it might be the painter in me but the act of pouring, stirring, and painting feels very soothing. I really enjoy massaging my face while applying an oil, I do what feels good and take as much or as little time as seems right.
Do you think ritual is connected to self-acceptance and self-love?
I think it can be, yes. Rituals have been used for centuries in every culture for a number of purposes and I think considering what rituals we want to create for ourselves communicates a sense of care. Doing things for yourself with care is the foundation of self-love.
Tell us about your recent academic shift towards a focus on mental health? How does that relate to art?
I’ve always been interested in psychology and wanted to find a way to integrate it with my passion for art. Knowing how helpful art has been for me and my mental health challenges, I was relieved to see an emerging field of therapy take art seriously. Countless art therapy studies are now confirming what many of us have experienced, creating art is healing. As an art therapist, I get to now share that experience with others and support people as they heal and grow through art.
Thank you to Angela for spending this time exploring our collection, and for lending her talents to create for Eluo. It has been stimulating to learn more about her inspiring perspective and creative process.