February 8, 2014
Deborah Bryon and I meet at the Interstate Cafe on a cold winter afternoon. We sit in the front seat of a old Chevy truck. The cab is all that remains and it is a decorative element in this restaurant.
May I ask you your age?
How long have you lived in Denver?
I moved here in 1983. I was born in Elmhurst, Illinois and spent my early teenage years were spent in the Chicago suburbs before moving back to Southern CA.
Can you tell us a bit about your early years?
I studied psychology at UCLA. After UCLA I moved to San Diego where I got my Masters, also in psychology. I had thoughts about continuing on for my PhD however I thought it important to get some life experience. For a time I was working in a program that assisted delinquents and the developmentally delayed. The program was cut in 1980 when Reagan was elected.
A friend of mine who lived in New York came to visit and I decided to move there– I figured it would be an adventure. It was difficult for some time - I had very little money and would sometimes walk to save the 60 cent subway fare. A friend of a friend worked in Wall Street as a stockbroker. I too became a stockbroker.
In New York I met my first husband. We moved to Denver in 1983 because he had ties here. After spending 10 years as a stock broker.
When did art, and art making, first become a part of your life?
I had my children in '89 and '90. At that time, around 1990, I had this idea to start a T-shirt company that would feature my art. I really had no formal training as an artist. Fortunately throughout my life I have done a great deal of traveling with friends and family - to Europe and many parts of Asia. Through this traveling I became aware of art.
My T shirt designs were Matisse-like: bold and colorful. I was inspired by his cut-outs. The company was called Avant became successful, with a national reach.
In 1998 the company was sold. I felt that I needed some art education. It bothered me that I could not draw. I enrolled at Metro where I studied drawing (with Jean Schiff) and I studied painting at UCD (with Sally Elliott). When I was studying drawing we would work from the figure. As I worked, I realized I was less interested in the accuracy of drawing (and painting) and more interested in the emotional state surrounding the creation of the work of art.
[Deborah did eventually achieve her PhD in Jungian psychology at the University of Denver and completed training to become a Jungian analyst She is currently a practicing Jungian analyst in Arvada.]
You travel a bit...
In 2003 something about a trip to Peru came in the mail. It was intriguing and sincere. The focus was working with the indigenous peoples of the Andes, with opportunities to learn about indigenous medicinal practices. The experience changed my life. I began spending time in Peru and began a paqo apprentice ship with the Andean medicine people. For the Andean medicine people, Paqo is a word for Shaman.
Can you describe your artistic process?
My painting is about energy and the energetic states that surround the process of my experiences as a paqo. There is a state of mind that is meditative and outside our ordinary reality, outside our everyday experience of time and space. When I experience this state and you approach a canvas you drop into the canvas.
For me, art is about spirituality, creativity and connection. I paint almost automatically, from a feeling state. I never know what I will paint before I approach the canvas. The painting happens when I am engaged with the canvas.
I will go into an art supply store and buy many canvases, and especially if they are on sale. Currently I work with the square shape. Thinking about Jungian psychology, the square is a symbol for wholeness, and it is a symbol for the self and for the individual.
Do you have any expectations of the viewer?
I do hope that the viewer can get into a "feeling experience". In the Jungian world numinous archetypal experience happens where you are embraced by a spiritual presence, where you are grabbed by something powerful and sublime.
Still, people respond to the energy of a painting in different ways. Their experiences are unique. That is fine.
In a sense I am more interested in my own experiences when I am making a work of art. If I worried about the viewer's experience while I was painting I think I would feel tentative.