Archive for September, 2012

Interview with Mz. Marya Stark

Friday, September 28th, 2012


The HeArt and Spirit of JAH Ishka Lha


Introduction and questions written by Marya Stark:

It is rare for me to be as impacted by a piece of art as I was when I first saw Ishka’s paintings. Her images jump off the canvas, and are filled with such vitality, spirit and life force; it is hard not to be completely enraptured. I feel myself enter into very special and unique spaces as I behold the windows of imagination evoked by these images. They are incredibly mythological, breathing lucidity while weaving sacred symbology and brilliant colors which unveil ecstatic images that remind me of fairy realm deities.

It is an honor to have, as my first official entry into this music and art blog, JAH Ishka Lha speaking about her beautiful art, her creative process, and other such musings.

Why is art awesome? Why do you make art?

Art has the power to shift people’s perspectives, and with that power comes great responsibility. In life, we have the incredible opportunity to make a difference in the world, but that is not enough. We gotta ask ourselves, “What kind of difference am I making?” My answer to that query is quite simple: a good one!–one that has HEART. I create art to inspire, to elevate, to awaken people to all dimensions of themselves with compassion and clarity. I enjoy surprising fast paced religious and cultural dogmas with a view that includes all things as sacred, an idea that many may not have considered without the influence of my art. I investigate the nature of mind through my painting process and choose to be authentic with it, and through this kind of presence, what manifests on canvas is unhindered by what society might tell me I should paint. Because of this, people notice something different, something that strikes them as unusually dynamic and alluring. Sometimes, viewers are moved to tears by the power of my work to open freedom’s arms, and this in itself, is my greatest reward.

Could you talk a little bit about your creative process?

My creative process varies from piece to piece, but lately I have been unearthing a trend in the way that I approach something new. Starting from a very young age, I trained myself as an artist by drawing mostly from real life and photos, but about seven years ago I became dissatisfied by this approach, and embraced a journey of self-discovery through the creative process itself. If I just sat at the paper with nothing but me, what would transpire? And so, I created many pieces of art purely from imagination and a newly cultivated flow of self inquiry, particularly one that focused on non-judgement. My art became a translation and fusion of mythical realms and personal experiences in life on paper. Now, I draw from my imagination and use actual subjects/objects and photos for reference, but it wasn’t until after I had discovered my inner vision that I integrated the two processes. These days, I’ve been having fun starting with a concept such as “Divine Union” or “The Dark Feminine” and diving into what that is on canvas. This is usually a pretty slow, deliberate, and sometimes intense process because I have to figure out what each of these phenomenons are within me, how they traditionally manifest in the world, and how I shall cast these many layers into a flash of two-dimensional visuals, although they are hardly “flat” in content. My work is a distillation of prayers, blessings, and intention–a surrender to the spirit of art as a living entity.

Do you have any tips for developing artists?

I pretty much always have three things to say to this question: Be bold, be patient, and be kind (to yourself). These are three essential ingredients to learning any new skill, in my opinion, and like the saying goes, “Every master started as an amateur.” So yes, be bold. Have the courage to explore greater levels of skill by pushing your limits. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! The great artist, M.C. Escher, once said something like, “Every piece of art I created was simply a mistake I was trying to fix.” I have found much comfort in these words over the years. The truth is, there are no mistakes. Escher was simply illuminating the somewhat painstaking comedy of art making. Even when things don’t at first turn out just right, you can change it, erase it, start over, or use unexpected results as a new twist of inspiration to create something even better than imagined. Patience with the process and kindness towards yourself will also make the learning experience more enjoyable. In order to get “it” just right, the artwork requires time, focus, and discipline, and sometimes multiple attempts, but do not despair! Have faith, and give yourself permission to do better until you get that satisfactory feeling inside that is happy to see what you have birthed. Just like training for a marathon, developing your strength and endurance takes practice and requires the belief that what you wish to create can and will be accomplished over time.

What is one of the most interesting stories you have about how a piece of work was created?

About five years ago, I came across a series of YouTube videos of Grant Morrison, the author of the popular comic book, The Invisibles. These videos documented a number of lectures Morrison presented to elucidate the nature of synchronicity (a concept termed by C.G Jung in the 1920s) and its power to shape the world. Early in his career, Morrison began to notice how the main character he had written into his comic (who looks a lot like himself) was eerily affecting his personal life in ways that were more than mere coincidence. Supposed fictional scenes in his stories were coming true, almost word for word, and this phenomenon brought about an acute awareness of the magic he was capable of through his art form. His stories were literally recipes for manifesting reality, but at first he was not consciously aware of it … things just started happening. With this new understanding, he now uses intention and attention to deliberately create his own reality through his writings.

As “fate” would have it, my paintings have divined a bit of my own life story, as well as revealed other profound universal truths. As my art unfolds, there is a delicious crosshatch of events foretold and historical significances communicated of which I have no conscious knowledge or recollection of beforehand. It’s as if I am drawing information from some invisible library, akashic and beyond. For instance, when I was painting The Kiss of Motherpeace, a number of simple yet magical occurrences arose. The early stages of the painting process for this piece were (and generally are) fluidly mysterious, and I began by simply and quietly floating upon a feeling, a soft current, imbued with reverence for all that is feminine. Exploring the feminine was not my intention from the beginning, it’s just what came about when I yielded, once again, to the start of something new. After having already fleshed out the main figures, it became intuitively self-evident that I was painting Kuan Yin (the goddess of compassion) and the green Tara (the youthful maiden), both unique emanations of the divine feminine in Buddhism. Before studying these beings in depth, I had a distinct urge to paint a serpent, but it wasn’t until later that my research revealed that Kuan Yin rides on dragons. This confirmed my hunch, and supported and directed my rendering of the serpent’s true form. Furthermore, although Kuan Yin is not traditionally represented with a full womb, I had drawn her as such, and later discovered that she is most often prayed to for help with fertility and childbirth. It also turns out that She is the patron saint for the year of the Ox, which happened to be the year I painted her. My own version of cosmic book stripping clearly was afoot, and I stand with full attention to it.

A continuous string of synchronicities fed my creative process for The Kiss of Motherpeace, and there are many more that continue to work through me in all of my art love affairs. These synchronicities mark that I’m on the right track, and cue me towards the next likely, seemingly pre-ordained, step. It’s as if some greater force than myself is at work, and all I have to do is surrender to it. I don’t wish to sound redundant, but what’s at play here is pretty remarkable, especially to anyone who is unfamiliar with these concepts. Synchronicity is “thesimultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.”[1] Once one catches onto this phenomenon, they can take things one step further and apply it to the powers of manifestation, which is what Morrison and I have put into practice with our art. There are many approaches to discovering this phenomenon in your own life, but if you are curious, you might begin with deciphering whether a chain of synchronistic events in your life is beneficial or harmful to you or others. If it seems positive in nature, then you know you are on the right track. If they are not, you can take a moment to reevaluate how you might be affecting the world with your belief systems, how you interact with the principles of creative flow, and then make changes in how you approach life so that you manifest joyous occurrences.

What are you most inspired by?

I am inspired by people who do what they love. I am inspired by nature. I am inspired by the exchange of ideas between people that is respectful and appreciative of varying perspectives. I am inspired by music and the making of it. I am inspired by people who are at the top of their game with creative projects, and are heartfully willing to share the tools of their success and truly encourage others to accomplish their dreams too. We are all so uniquely incredibly talented individuals, and we have the ability to live legendary lives! I am deeply inspired by this Truth.

How would you describe your style as an artist?

Affixing my style of art to a specific genre has most often posed a challenge for me. I have felt resistance to it because I don’t want to be pigeon-holed; yet, like music, people want to know, “What kind of art do you make?”

Art is being redefined every moment, and it’s tough to pitch today’s artist into just one category. Thanks to modern technology, new art forms are being discovered all the time, and old ones are transforming and cross-pollinating at a rapid rate. Artists get exposure to influences from all over the world as easily and quickly as the click of a button, and it is no wonder that it becomes increasingly difficult to classify today’s art as part of one movement or that. I am most often classified as a visionary artist, but this genre is not what solely defines my style. The term visionary art, to my understanding, was first coined in the 1960s and defined as art that is spiritually or politically motivated, and created by self-taught artists. It is the most recent movement of art that I am aware of that is globally recognized, and what might capture the likeness of my “style.”

However, it was not until after my discovery of the Symbolists, a group of artists, musicians, and writers who started a new movement in Europe in the late nineteenth century, that my sense of identity as an artist had been fully revealed. They treated their art as prayers, incantations, and magical talismans. They dedicated their lives to the making of art that possessed miraculous faculties, and treated the muse with great reverence, not merely as inspiration, but as the source of all inspiration. The muse may go by many names, but regardless, it is the vehicle through which all masterpieces have ever been created.

And so, with all these tales of old and new, prophecy and mythology, blessings and petitions to spirit, all entwined together in my art, I like to regard myself in this modern age as a Neo-Symbolist.

Is there anything else you feel moved to share about the power of art, or intentions as an artist?

While we surrender the extremes of our ego to the infinite ocean of creation, we are granted a boon: the gift of translating the beauty of the universe and all the heavens into a language that will perhaps bring another to its sparkling shores.

If you had to write the first line of a poem, right now, what would it be?

If we are what we create,
let us be the art of such a fate.


To see the complete interview and other inspiring artists, visit: