Denita Benyshek

Denita Benyshek is a doctoral student in the Psychology of Consciousness and Spirituality at Saybrook Graduate School. Her research is on the contemporary artist as shaman. During 15 years of teaching in remote, Native American villages in the Alaskan bush, Denita Benyshek's paintings developed far from the coastal art scenes. She later earned an MFA in drawing and painting, then a MA in psychology. Her artwork was included in Redefining Visionary Art, New York City, curated by Suzi Gablik and Ehud Sperling. In addition, she received numerous grants, exhibited widely, and is represented in many public art collections including the Glasmuseet (Glass Museum) in Ebeltoft, Denmark. She taught at the College of Folk Arts and Culture in Pskov, Russia, worked on films, and created multi-media performances. A talented artist, she created the artwork for this year’s WinterStar flyer, entitled Animus.

Art Audience as Shamanic Society

Denita Benyshek's current research investigates the art audience as shamanic community. Denita will define shamanic community, examine how individual and societal needs are met through art, reframe attendance of art events as ritual, provide a brief overview of recent research on the healing power of art, and share personal stories. This presentation will enhance your ability to engage with art, find meaning, and achieve a state of mystical union and transcendence through art.

The Contemporary Artist as Shaman

When 82 year old anthropologist, Dr. Ruth-Inge Heinze, taught her last seminar on shamanism at Saybrook Graduate School, Denita Benyshek was among her fortunate students. Knowledge, conveyed through lectures and through a series of visions, revealed many similarities between shamans and artists. Using Dr. Heinze’s definition of a shaman, Denita will demonstrate how artists may qualify as shamans. The discussion is grounded in over three decades of experience as a professional artist, which provides autobiographical evidence of shamanic experiences during artistic creativity. Research, from psychology, anthropology, sociology, creative studies, art history, and religious studies, is also considered towards constructing an interdisciplinary and multicultural theory of the artist as shaman. Topics will include calling, initiation, androgyny, shamanic journey, healing, integration, and an alternate, nonpathological, model of artistic creativity.

















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