By SARIA IDANA, student in the Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program
This post was written for Cindy Shearer's CIA 7712: MFA Project. In
these blogs, students are sharing their discoveries, reflections and learning
as they enter the process of creating a body of art work and culminate their
Mentors of mine have urged me to integrate my many aspects, artistic and personal, believing this would bring me greater success and ease in life. I first began the process of integration a few years ago, in an art and activism leadership training. I am starting to think integration is a process that never completes yet is constantly refined. As a person with multiple passions, I find integration to be no easy task. Assembling all the disparate pieces to understand the whole can be painful, disconcerting and agonizing. Understanding how my personal past has affected my creative present, how my actor self informs my singer self, is like finding the puzzle pieces needed to complete the picture, yet sometimes I’m not sure I want to know what the picture is. And still to be a whole of harmonious parts has become my goal.
I came to CIIS wanting to integrate, my artist and educator, my ethnic identity and my woman, my actor-writer-dancer-singer-musician-director. I am integrating my values with my art, my aesthetic with my content. I am starting to understand how all these pieces play in harmonious, and sometimes dissonant, ways to form the symphony that is my personal and public work. I hope one day I will understand how to rearrange these pieces creating related symphonic suites, but suspect I have already been doing this without realizing.
This stretching and aligning to become integrated is making me a better artist, educator, collaborator and a better human being. I find I exert less energy to accomplish more. Yet I often wake in the middle of the night with growing pains; my mind a mess of questions, my legs and shoulders sore. My process is all shook up and in a constant state of change while in a simultaneous state of solidification.
I choose this MFA program because it allows me flexibility to use my own art and the state of my growing career as an actor, writer and music artist as the text for my learning. As an artist who is constantly in motion, this format gives me support to understand my motion and yet it is a strange predicament to learn from and critique my process while being inside of it. But isn’t this the constant reality of the artist?
Lastly, I choose this program for the questions we are asked. We are gently urged to give historical, contemporary and political context to our work, with regard to content, aesthetic and process. At times I think a studio program would have been an easier choice, so I could show up when scheduled, do the clearly outlined homework to prepare and participate in the craft, and enter the workforce with a clear and predefined set of skills. Instead I am finding my ways for showing up every morning in my solitude and digging into my work, my research, my study and the integration of the multiple media I utilize as an artist. In reality I believe this program and practice will serve me for the long haul as I am forced to set up systems for how to be productive and authentic, while being knowledgeable, to be connected to other artists and to take good care of myself. Although I am currently in a state of growing pains, the discoveries are illuminating my path forward.