RESEARCH (ARTICLES, CHAPTERS, DISSERTATION)
Shamans were the first
Einsteins, bicyclists, and blue ribbon apple pie bakers.
Shamans receive their calling
from trumpets and Carnegie libraries and youtube hucksters
and commune with disembodied spirits through apples
and smoke signals from radio towers.
Shamans journey to the spirit world
and bring back moon rocks, postcards of the Eiffel Tower, and empty bottles of tequila.
Shamans work for the benefit of their communities,
plug in their electric guitars and collect the garbage.
During times of disbelief or persecution,
shamans secretly do their work standing
in lines, in banks, in grocery stores,
along the branches of family trees.
When you are waiting for your turn at the high dive,
there is always a shaman somewhere in line behind you,
beating a drum,
beating a drum.
Denita Benyshek, © March 1, 2010/November 9, 2017
Many moons ago, at my undergraduate university bookstore, a book jumped off the shelf into my hands. I gazed down at Michael Harner's The Way of the Shaman. I knew nothing of shamanism. I had no interest in shamanism; but, it seemed to be interested in me.
I read the book and found it to be the first description of my artistic creative process and soul landscape. Through many gypsy moves, across many states, I discarded and added books to my library, Yet, I always brought the little Harner paperback with me.
Eventually, I found myself at the universe city of Saybrook Graduate School, where I met academic scholars (and secret practitioners) of shamanism. I studied with the anthropologist Ruth-Inge Heinze. Her work was based on extended fieldwork in Asia. When Ruth was 82 years old, she took me on 4 drum journeys, meaningful, visionary, profound. I also studied with Stanley Krippner and Jurgen Kremer among others. Along with psychology of creativity scholars, Ruth Richards and Steve Pritzker, and humanistic psychologist Art Bohart.
These are my kin, my soul-mind ancestors,
I gradually developed my doctoral dissertation research topic: contemporary artists as shamans. I wrote as participant observer, I was researcher, artist, and budding shaman.
In 2022, I will write my book on contemporary artists as shamans.
RESEARCH ON CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS AS SHAMANS
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
Benyshek, D. (2015). A historical and critical overview of the artist as shaman and recent research. In A. Czyżewski & E.E. Djaltchinova-Malets (Eds.), Shamanhood and its arts. Budapest, Hungary: Bibliotheca Shamanistica, Akademia Kiado, and The Polish Institute of the World Art Studies, Warsaw.
Benyshek, D. (2014). Art audience as shamanic community: How art meets psychological, social, and spiritual needs (Wang, Trans.). In G. Shuyun, W. Weibo & Q. Fang (Eds.), Modern artists and shamanism (Vol. II of Encyclopedia of shamanism). Beijing: 商務印書館 (The Commercial Press).
Benyshek, D. (2014). An Overview of Western Ideas regarding the Artist as Shaman (Wang, Trans.). In G. Shuyun, W. Weibo & Q. Fang (Eds.), Modern artists and shamanism (Vol. II of Encyclopedia of shamanism). Beijing: 商務印書館 (The Commercial Press).
Benyshek, D. (2013). The transformative power of shamanic art. Malibu, CA: AY Atelier Art: Transformative Art Gallery Online. Reprinted on Threads of the Spiderwoman.
Benyshek, D. (2013). An archival exploration comparing contemporary artists and shamans. PhD, Saybrook University, San Francisco, CA.
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