Tom Singer, MD

This edition of ARAS Connections features two remarkable papers that were originally presented at the fourth Art and Psyche Conference held in Sicily in 2015. It is important to start by acknowledging how wonderfully productive the collaboration between Art and Psyche and ARAS has become. Art and Psyche reaches out into the community of those interested in the relationship between archetypal energies, symbol formation, and creative processes. And ARAS provides a digital container for sharing the original researches that emerge out of the Art and Psyche conferences. This is perfectly realized in these two papers, one of which is about revelation and the other is about evolution.

Irene Cioffi Whitfield’s riveting description of Lotto’s Annunciation of 1553 is written with such depth of feeling and intimate knowledge of archetypal processes that it leaves the reader in awe and wonder of Whitfield’s gifts, in much the same way that Whitfield herself approaches Lotto and his painting. Among its other fine qualities, this paper is beautifully written as the reader/viewer is led through the delicate portals of appreciating and understanding the multiple levels of interaction and meaning in the painting. Her paper distills the density of meaning in a moment of revelation:

"There is no calm, only emotional agitation. Despite her discomfort and upset, Mary’s receptivity in the face of this divine commotion is absolute: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke: 27-38). Like Persephone, the Virgin is raped and penetrated by a divine spirit and in accepting this fertilization she welcomes both life and death into her inexorably altered world. We can see  by the way she looks outwardly, that she expects no less from us, the viewers of the divine incarnation. But are we up to it?”

If Whitfield’s paper focuses on a moment of apocalyptic revelation, Joan Golden-Alexis takes us on a very different journey in her exploration of the life’s work of the Cuban artist, Amelia Paláez (1896-1968). This is a journey of evolution not revelation, of the slow unfolding of an individuation process over a lifetime of painting. Sometimes the word “individuation” gets overused and becomes a bit of a Jungian cliche. But, Golden-Alexis shows us how best to use the term “individuation” in describing a lifetime of slow differentiation, of the emergence of a human being with a “Self” that is part of but also separate from her secure, containing, privileged environment. As Golden-Alexis states it:

"The images reveal a slow movement toward identity, individuation, agency, a process that appears to take place against the grain of something innate, against the gravitational pull of all that offers comfort and safety and which supports a kind of undifferentiated diffuseness of Self and other.”

Welcome to this wonderfully rich edition of ARAS Connections.
Tom Singer