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Home » Boosting Creativity, Featured, Headline, Inspirational

Art as the Visual Imagination

Submitted by on December 7, 2011 – 11:24 pmNo Comment

By Dr. Mary C. Saleeby Ph.D.

Very often I wonder what it would have been like to live in a different time period.  I think about everyday life activities, diverse fashion, transportation and amusement. I dream how wonderful it would be to passage ourselves in time even if just for a brief moment and experience what different periods of existence were like.

One way we can achieve this is with visual imagination.  The trick is to transport your mind and spiritual being into another dimension. This is very often done through art and the power it possesses. The ability of expressing visual images reverts back to Prehistoric times, it also played an integral role in describing the life and everyday activities of people in Ancient Egyptian times.  One might ask, how can we possibly account for someone’s daily experiences dating back thousands of years? Well, the answer is through art and the glorious pictorials that were left for us.

The Ancient Egyptians blessed us with Hieroglyphs one of the greatest gifts the world has to offer.  As a Professor of Art History my students are astounded when I introduce them to this documentary art called Hieroglyphs. Before viewing the pictorials my students fully contemplated what these pictorials held and why they were done however the transcendence of actually seeing them in person drew them into a spiritual place and time they never thought they would encounter. It is their visual imagination that allows them to enter the art and stories of the Ancient Egyptians sacred religion, recreation, rituals and magical afterlife.

One of my favorite stories comes from my nephew, which of whom is a new addition to my family.  Michelle is this remarkable young Egyptian man that was born and raised in Egypt, one day during a conversation he explained to me how his backyard was quite different from those we have in New York City.  As he began to describe where he played after school and as he got older where he played during school I realized it was among the tombs of the Great Pharaohs. The story took my breath away and sent chills up and down my spine. My visual imagination ran away from me and made me wish that just for a moment I could have been a little girl in that same situation.

When we visualize or process a work of art, a painting an artifact or hieroglyph we not only process the image we process the emotion that leads us to encounter this feeling.  “American Physiologist Edmund Jacobson conducted studies which show that when a person imagines running a small but measurable amount of contraction actually takes place in the muscles associated with running”. (The Psychology of Consciousness”, by R. Ornstein) Therefore we must understand that our viewing of art is not only a visual experience it is a physical experience. Visual imagery is imminent to an explicit experience more so than a verbal thought, so whether awake or asleep a relaxed peaceful state advocates visualization encouraging us to experience and savor the wonderful gift of art.  Allowing our body, mind and soul to enter a different dimension and time period is a happy and healthy state of being and helps us amplify our visual imagination.

Copyright 2009: Mary C. Saleeby Ph.D.

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