I remember coming across the word, archetype, often, in college. It seemed to be one of those academic buzz words like dichotomy, sociopolitical, aesthetic. I could grasp what these terms meant, but archetype took me years to internalize. It wasn’t until 15 years later, when I was teaching a college level general studies course, that it clicked. It was like being colorblind and finally seeing a multitude of hues and chroma for the first time. I identified archetypes everywhere and in everything.
Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines archetype as the following:
1. the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies :prototype; also :a perfect example
3. an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual
I am most interested in how archetypes relate to people. I discovered that there were archetypes that transverse time, like the madonna, the mother. In every culture, every situation, across language, throughout the millenia we all know “mother”. Not only can mother be universally identified, but patterns and behaviors of “mother” can be easily defined by most people.
Studying archetypes have helped me to see and think differently, broadening my perspective. I don’t want to delve deep into how they function, that’s a book. Let’s just say from great spiritual leaders to game designers, psychologists to acclaimed writers… they all have a working knowledge of archetypes and how they function. It’s some powerful stuff!
Here’s my point. I wrote all that fluff to get to this. I believe that any given day I can operate from various archetypes. Today, I am exploring what archetypes are governing my behavior and thinking. The Painted Mother was an online persona I developed after becoming a mom. Painted mother caught the essence of who and what I was. It had less to do with my painting, although that was the main suggestion. It really had more to do with how others perceived me as a mother and an artist. I accepted the projections people placed on me as an artist, while at the same time, acknowledged that some elements of motherhood were imposed, thus, painted.
I have outgrown this archetype. I’m exploring and giving thought to the dominant themes in my work, what I have been going through and what I would like to become. Once I intuitively identified my working archetype(s), it will be the name I will use for the next phase of my creative expression. I got to come up with something better than “wounded bird” or “bird woman”. Any suggestions?