My husband Sabin Howard and I have written a book called "The Art of Life." (Due out in the fall.) It is about sculpture, his in particular and the historical tradition in general. It is also about the philosophy of art and of the figure. In reference to a chapter on how he taught art, he emailed me some pix of the drawings he did for his classes. He taught from the drawings and reiterated them in chalk on the blackboard. They are gorgeous, expressive, energetic--and didactic.
Sabin wanted his students to realize that, with the figure, they were dealing with a structure, with an architecture. Knowing the architecture intimately frees the artist in his process. It's the way in to the art of the human body. Students often resisted the discipline and rigor of the craft of making art; they did not understand that structure is power. Sabin said, "I had to keep pounding it into their heads. They don't listen. The question is, how teachable are they? How willing are they to let go of old bad habits?"
We are so often occluded with our old, graceless ways of doing things. How do we let in the light?
It was a question that came to mind when I read an email from Dr. Dan Booth Cohen, author of the wonderful "I Carry Your Heart in My Heart," about family constellations. I have done some constellation work with Dr. Cohen and I find them poignant, transformative, and alchemical. (His website is
In his newsletter, Dr. Cohen explained family constellation work:
Systemic Family Constellations are grounded in a different tradition. Drawing from systems theory and indigenous traditions, they are a heart-centered, right-brained, intuitive approach for receiving the wisdom of the unconscious mind. In Constellations, the unconscious is not approached as an unruly, wild horse to be tamed or controlled. Rather, difficult emotions, destructive behaviors and debilitating symptoms are understood as a way of calling attention to someone or something that wants to be noticed. When the impulses and eruptions of the unconscious are understood, accepted, and loved, they cease being destructive.
Then he wrote,
The human heart is surrounded by gates that protectively close from the experience of trauma.
And I found myself wondering about the gates with which we live.