Mary Antonia Wood, Ph.D.
A Quest for Meaning, A Desire to Serve
"Meaninglessness inhibits the fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable - perhaps everything."
As a visual artist for over twenty years, I've experienced the highs, the lows and the in-betweens of the artist's life. I feel fortunate to have had my work shown in respected galleries and museums, as well as collected by wonderful institutions and individuals. However, even in the best of times, I've sometimes felt a lack of meaning, or an emptiness while translating the creative calling into what our culture calls "career." The thread into the labyrinth of creation can easily be broken - the demands of the marketplace can easily overtake the creative gift.
My academic background includes both an M.A. and Ph.D. in mythological studies and depth psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. My doctoral thesis was entitled: The Archetypal Artist: Reimagining Artistic Creation at the Crossroads of Fate and Free Will. (This project is currently being reformatted into a book. You can read a brief abstract here.) I'm honored to have now returned to Pacifica as adjunct faculty in the Engaged Humanities and Creative Life program.
In my private practice...
I specialize in helping creators reach their fullest potential. The complex territory of creativity includes not only the joy of creating, but also feelings of longing, melancholy and loss. Today we might also add the less poetic terms of "being stuck" or "blocked." At any time in an artist's life, a reinvigorated relationship with the deepest layers of imagination can transform art-making into "soul-making."
"Psyche is image. In other words, making images is making soul." -James Hillman
Archetypal psychologist James Hillman spoke passionately about "soul-making," which can be described as an activity that reveals the extraordinary within the ordinary, an activity (that in Joseph Campbell's words) enables us to become "transparent to the transcendent." Soul-making is arguably the deepest aim of all creative endeavor. Mentoring fellow creative individuals allows me to support soul-making as I gather and weave together powerful insights (from the realms of philosophy, psychology, mythology, neuroscience, diverse spiritual traditions, and more) into personalized guidance for my clients and colleagues. Our time together "makes soul" on individual, collective, and even universal levels. Ultimately, what we're searching for is meaning, Not only is meaning essential as we face the many difficulties of the artist's life, it is also our primary conduit to the deepest sources of creativity, to soul/psyche herself.
What is a mentor?
Find my CV and some examples of my art and writing here.