I am an artist, a mental health counselor, a coach for gifted and creative individuals, and an interdisciplinary researcher on contemporary artists as shamans. Korean mudang Kim Junghee initiated me as a shaman through a traditional naerim gut.
PhD in humanistic and transpersonal psychology, Saybrook University.
Graduate certificate in the psychology of creativity, Saybrook University.
MA in marriage and family therapy/psychology, Saybrook University.
MFA painting, University of Washington.
BFA painting, Wichita State University.
Pilchuck Glass School, full scholarship.
training in dance (ballet, modern, jazz, ethnic) and vocals (jazz, blues).
I’ve received many awards, scholarships, and grants, most recently to the Creativity and Madness Conference in Santa Fe, NM.
Previous publications include: The contemporary artist as shaman, ReVision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation; A historical and critical overview of the artist as shaman and recent research, Shamanhood and its arts, Budapest/Warsaw; Art audience as shamanic community: How art meets psychological, social, and spiritual needs, Modern artists and shamanism (Vol. II of Encyclopedia of shamanism), Beijing; An Overview of Western Ideas regarding the Artist as Shaman, Modern artists and shamanism (Vol. II of Encyclopedia of shamanism) Beijing.
These chapters and articles, as well as the foundational theoretical study on contemporary artists as shamans, are open access and available online at https://saybrook.academia.edu/DenitaBenyshekPhDMFA
I recently completed the draft of a chapter, “My Naerim Gut”,for the anthology Trans-Disciplinary Migrations: Science, the Sacred, and the Arts, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, London, UK.
My conference presentations integrate PowerPoint, animation, collage, voice, poetry, story, and research into healing works of art for the audience. I’ve offered these prayers at the International Conference on Shamanism, Healing, and Transformation (2010, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2018), the American Psychological Association (2013), International Society of Shamanistic Research (2009 Anchorage, AK, 2011 Warsaw, Poland), and other venues.
Private and public collections, including:
University of Washington Medical Center.
Harborview Medical Center.
King County Ethnic Heritage Collection.
The Glass Museum, Ebeltoft, Denmark.
Past curated group shows include:
Redefining Visionary Art, New York City.
Bellevue Art Museum.
Solo exhibits at art galleries in:
Sun Valley, ID,
Santa Fe, NM,
Portland, OR, and
I’ve also worked on films, directed radio plays, and created solo or collaborative multi-media performances. For 18 years, I was a devoted educator, teaching arts in remote Native villages in the Alaskan bush, working with all tribes in the state. I taught visual arts at a fine arts/folk art college of visual arts, music, and dance in Pskov, Russia, and visual arts, performance, mural painting, art history, and mythology with college students in Alaska and Washington.
I currently live in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle with my beloved son.