It is with deep admiration that I present this week’s Artist~Healer:
Stephanie Gagos!
Personally, I see her as something of a Warrior Woman –
emulating bravery, transformation, and fear-healing empowerment
by sharing her own truth-journey of facing the darkness of her past,
offering her hand to other women, 
and showing them a creative path back into the light 
in a safe place of support and understanding.
So, please, make a cup of chai and enjoy some of Stephanie’s insights
in this written interview
as she takes the talking stick in our circle.

What does being an Artist~Healer mean to you?

For me it means that I actively use art to heal myself first and foremost as well as facilitate healing through art with others. Every time I sit to create a page in my art journal or a piece on canvas, I am healing and expressing an aspect of myself. Whether it is the little girl who was told she wasn’t good at drawing, or the part of me that craves color after years of living in the darkness, I am always healing a part of myself through my art. I then create those opportunities for other women as well.
Have you always been comfortable with calling yourself an “Artist” and “Healer”?
It’s funny because I wrote a poem entitled, “I am an Artist” in an effort to claim that for myself in a world of critics and other artists who argue over what is art. The art world can be tough for a newbie who really just wants to learn and allow intuition to lead them. 
I still struggle with this but not as much as before and because I have come to terms with the fact that I am a healer who uses art.I am more in tune with this as a calling rather than a label. It is part of who I am and no one can really take that away.
Why do you think it is often difficult for Artists and Healers to claim this title for themselves?
I think we all suffer from some form of “not good enoughism”. To claim you are a healer is a pretty big thing. Healing often is not something that can be measured and so often we may find it difficult to own that title.

There are so many differing opinions about what makes someone an artist-from the type of art they create as being “real art” to whether they do it professionally and actually sell their art. If we do not fit into a particular category many of us feel we do not have a right to claim it. 
Claiming it and owning it is a healing process.
Is there something specific that has to be present or open in a person in order to accept one’s self as either or both?
I truly believe we must open to being a vessel through which the Divine can express itself and touch others. Whether you call it Life Force, Source, God,
Muse, there needs to be a faith and trust in that which is flowing through us. 
As an artist healer it is less about form, and technique and more about intuition, love, trust, and allowing the healing to flow through.
Do you think all Artists are Healers or all Healers are Artists? 
I do believe all artists are healers even if they are not purposely setting out to heal through their art. 
When I look at a painting that moves me, touches me, I am transported to a place within myself. I am connecting with myself through that piece of art. Whether it gripped me, shocked me, comforted me, made me smile, it is touching a part of me that resonates with it and it is leading me into an opportunity to heal this aspect of me. I am in fact seeing myself in each piece of art that moves me.
What are some difficulties or challenges for Artist~Healers?
For me I have found it difficult to balance the two. How much art, how much healing content to provide. I tend to focus mainly on the healing and just share my art process which means I don’t really focus on technique since I am not an art teacher, but sometimes I think there is a part of me that wants to teach art and I am learning to honor that and slowly allow myself to teach what I’ve come to know about the materials. I think overall the balance and focus is what I question most.
How does your creative expression inform you, or offer you unique perspective, as a Healer?
The art reveals layers to me that I may not be aware of consciously. It is as if the art accesses subconscious parts of the wound and make their way on the canvas or art journal page, which then allows me to see what layers others may have to their own wounds, what may be calling to be healed in others as well. 
We are all very similar and I love that I can use images and words to access deeper parts of myself which gives me greater insight into the pain of others.
How does your healing work inform you, or offer you unique perspective, as an Artist?
The healing work, gives me the patience, love and gentleness I need when I am working on piece of art. In fact, the healing work I’ve done involves a great amount of trust in the process which translates to trusting the process of my art.

I often do not know where I am going when I begin an art journal page or a piece on canvas and it is the same when I do piece of healing work. Taking great emotional risks in my personal healing work, has allowed me to do the same in my art.

Stephanie’s original art

What unique offerings and services do you feel Artist~Healers have to offer people of the world in our times?
I think we offer a visual way of revealing and exploring aspects of ourselves, we are very good at communing, loving and accepting each other wherever we are in the process. 
I think artist-healers bring a great amount of sensitivity and intuitiveness which is needed in the world.
At this time, what do you see as your true work in the world related to Art and Healing?
In this moment it is to use art to help women revisit the wounds of their past, grieve the losses there, and reclaim the light of who they are. Art is a tool that I use to help women access buried pain, feel and move through it, face it and transform it through art and writing. I feel very blessed to be doing this work in the world.
Has anyone had major influence or impact on your journey of discovery as an Artist~Healer? 
My first introduction to art journaling, healing art was Tamara Laporte of Willowing. She showed me what was possible as an artist and as a healer. It just clicked for me when I took her free art healing course, that art was the missing piece in the work I was doing.

Art allowed me to show my own healing process in a unique way. I often wondered how I could reach more women and just couldn’t imagine myself just speaking into a camera. Art gave me an avenue to show healing in action right on the screen evolving right before their eyes. She has been a beautiful influence on me and my work.

Share a true story or experience highlighting the relationship between art and healing, and how this had a profound impact on you or someone else.
Although I can’t tell the story of anyone in particular I have worked with, I can say art is a doorway for women to dig deep and explore their wounding, face their shame, and tell their stories in unique and powerful ways. Art allows them to reveal the stories they have buried for so long without the words catching in their throats. I have seen women truly feel a greater sense of freedom from using their art to heal and exploring the stories of where they’ve been, honoring them and choosing into something more. I’ve had women tell me their lives have been forever changed by taking an art healing course with me or with someone else and that it has opened them in new ways and allowed them to choose into themselves and reclaim their power.

Art moves us, it energizes and frees up the frozen parts of us, it enlivens us, and that is healing.

 
Do you have any services or projects upcoming that you’d like to share with us?
I have created a creative online healing sanctuary for women healing from childhood wounding. I offer monthly healing bundles based on a healing theme which include an art video showing my process with the prompts given, a coaching video explaining my healing process, and a pdf with a lesson, a writing assignment, a body centered process and the art prompt. I also offer healing meditations which are geared toward healing the inner child and reclaiming the truth of our light.
I also offer individual coaching sessions via email, chat or phone for women who want focused attention on a particular aspect they want to heal. Pricing and packages can be found at http://www.myvoiceoftruthcoaching.com
Where can readers find out more about you or connect with you?
On facebook you can find me at https://www.facebook.com/sgagos and the Finding Your Voice of Truth Page at 
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sgagos

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
There is now an Artist~Healer Circle page
where you can access any of the Artist~Healer posts from now on 
– including the first post by Chris Zydel! 
 
You can also sign up for the LWS newsletter 
to get the list of who has posted once every 4-8 weeks.