Working As An Artist in Consequential Times: Carrie Seid
Georgia by Carrie Seid
“Images take me apart; images put me back together again...
Art making is my way of bringing soul back into my life.
Art is my way of knowing who I am.”
~ Pat B. Allen
Pat Allen, author of the words above, lived her life through many roles. She was an art student, a teacher, an art therapist, a wife, mother and an artist. Her book, Art as a Way of Knowing, was written years ago, but is a perfect mirror and introduction to Carrie Seid, studio artist and Creativity Coach.
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Seid has lived in Tucson, wearing several hats, for the past 16 years. Like Allen, Seid has been an art student, teacher, wife, mother, practicing artist and also works in the arena of arts and healing as a Creativity Coach. Trained as a textile designer, the works she is most known for are luminous sculptural forms that include gauzey fabrics stretched and layered over rigid, box-like, illuminated structures. Her work has been shown and collected through galleries and museums around the country.
In addition to her practice as a studio artist, Seid serves as a Creativity Coach with individual clients and small groups. In this interview, she talks about her work and how life unfolded to bring her to this two-fold path as artist and healer.
Why did you become an artist?
As a teen, I gravitated towards doing what I felt most affinity for—things I felt compelled to stay up all night doing. I felt a desire “to shine” in some way, so I pursued what engaged me most because it felt like I could attain mastery there. Making things was my source of engagement.
Can you describe how life unfolded to bring you from personal art-making to your current passion as a Creativity Coach?
That process has evolved over the past decades for me. I started out at Rhode Island School of Design as a textile major because it seemed like a practical way to earn a living doing what I loved. After graduating with a BFA, I went to work in New York in textile design. Much to my surprise, I found the work too way too repetitive and knew I could do more with my creativity. I ended up leaving the textile design industry to design, create and sell paper jewelry. I travelled the country selling my work in high-end craft shows for the next three years.
During that period, I took a three-week workshop called Experimental Textiles. There, I met a key instructor who convinced me to return to school to pursue an MFA. At his urging, I applied and was accepted to The Cranbrook Academy of Art, where I met my mentor-teacher, Gerhardt Knodel. Going to school in a monastic-like rural setting in Michigan with extraordinary instructors and fellow students opened my mind to a world of creative possibilities. I developed the art form I continue to practice while studying at Cranbrook.
Were there areas or experiences related to art-making as healing during those Cranbrook years?
Very much so. On the interpersonal level, I was in transition, having ended a long-term relationship just before entering grad school. On the intrapersonal level, at age 28, I had a subtle awareness that there was a key part of myself not being expressed yet, either in my life or my art work. It felt like somehow, my training as a designer had “boxed me in”. I sensed that I was living from a place of personal smallness and that something larger yearned for expression. The healing I sought was related to needing to expand both the physical area my artwork covered, and to express with a more authentic voice.
What followed the grad school years?
Teaching! I spent the next 19 years teaching art in a variety of settings, including the University of Arizona. Teaching fed my spirit and inspired my own studio practice. During those years, I began to notice how often my attention went from focusing on the work my students were creating to the process they were going through in order to make the work. My teaching work gradually evolved into being more about facilitating students to break down the inner barriers that were interfering with their ability to create in an authentic way.
So, in essence, the Creativity Coaching you now do evolved from your work as a teacher?
Absolutely. I realized that inner barriers were responsible for blocking many people in related ways, regardless of the projects they were doing.
Can you address how teaching and coaching are similar as well as different?
For me, teaching was primarily about directing students to make inquiries about the outer world, whereas coaching is about facilitating people to explore and expand inner life lessons as the key to authentic expression. Teaching and coaching intersect in that both include accessing and tapping into the collective unconscious and learning to trust what we encounter there.
Do you have any general words of wisdom/guidance to share about how to address being stuck creatively?
In my experience as a studio artist and as a coach, I identify feeling “stuck” with anxiety. When I hit a stuck place in my own art making, I do two things. First, I step back to ask myself what I am feeling anxious about. Next, regardless of the “what” that conversation yields, I make the choice to keep moving. What that means is that if I just can’t connect with what I am working on, I shift gears and work on something else. I might sort beads or do some other type of minor studio prep work in order to stay on the train, so to speak. The point is to choose to keep a flow going as opposed to stopping the momentum. Most often, I find that the parallel involvement with materials brings me back to the work I felt stuck with in a new way.
How do you see your creative work serving as a healing tool for both yourself and the community at large?
I feel we are living in consequential times. At this particular moment, each and every one of us can make the choice to stretch towards living from our most authentic selves. Art-making is one of the many ways a person can explore and build connection with a sense of self-authority. Being in touch with, claiming and standing up for the power and truth we experience is critical for the future. I believe that as each person is increasingly able to engage in courageous, authentic expression, we will also be able to live more fully “in service” to each other at all times. Healing in the present from this place of connection to our authentic selves allows us to keep each other afloat, to support each other, to push forward and to truly see each other and what our future world needs.
To connect with Carrie Seid, visit CarrieSeid.com.
Carolyn King, M.A. in Arts & Consciousness, has worked as a studio artist and as a teaching artist for over 30 years. She recently launched Heart to Hand Studio, in Tucson, where she offers classes and workshops in a variety of visual arts media for children, teens and adults. Connect at CKing72@cox.net.