Interview with Mariannita Luzzati – Brazilian/Italian Visual Artist

Do you like to wander? Are you seeking solace? Are you turning to nature and landscapes to be inspired and encouraged? Are you figuring out the absurd situations, odd habits, or other eccentric aspects of daily life? In such moments, turning to art re-enacts our emotions and magnifies our natural survival instincts. Complexity in life demands a catalyst to foster coherence and clarity. Seemingly, looking at the artwork that recognizes the intensity of the modern world and comforts in uncertainties or sorrows and amplifies exuberance is beneficial to our well-being.

The contemplative landscape paintings of Mariannita Luzzati is one of the activators to learn about the mysteries of the world around us. An artist that sparks the knowledge to living a hedonic way through a mediative outlook. Born in São Paulo, of Italian parents who arrived in Brazil in the sixties, Mariannita Luzzati artworks honors the natural habitat and explores the interconnectedness of humans to their environment.

“These images suggest that the viewer should contemplate and reflect on emptiness and silence, which for me, is our greatest need today,” says the artist.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

In 2011 Mariannita Luzzati conceived and developed the Cinemúsica Project in collaboration with her husband, the pianist Marcelo Bratke to bring multimedia performances to Brazilian prisons exploring the dialogue between music and moving images. Cinemúsica was performed in 10 prisons of the State of São Paulo, and Mariannita Luzzati produced and directed a documentary about the project. Since then, Cinemúsica has also been performed in prestigious cultural institutions in Brazil and abroad. Among these are the Southbank Center in London; Performing the World Festival in New York; Sarajevo Winter Festival; Sala São Paulo; Teatro da Paz in Belém and the Rio de Janeiro Opera Hall. The Cinemúsica Project was performed more than 60 times, receiving the Art of Touch Award at the Sarajevo Winter Festival.

 

Interview with Mariannita Luzzati

 

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

ML: It is the need to create a pictorial space on my work in which I somehow feel I can insert myself in.

In fact, I create a parallel reality of the aesthetic ideal that I pursue.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: Why are you focused on the concept of the landscapes-

ML: Because I want to be there, to be at that particular landscape in the middle of nature briefing nature.

Nature is an infinite thematic element, and I always discover new ways of seeing it.

Environmental issues are of great interest to me, and it motivates me to develop my work.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

ML: To be true to me. This approach includes doing nothing that offends my ethics. To be close to the people I love and to stay close to nature and to have a simple life.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt-

ML: A long walk in the countryside is the best way to down negative thoughts. I love swimming and yoga, as well. I always try to ignore negative thoughts. I don’t exercise self-doubts, and I believe that mistakes and successes sadness and happiness are part of life, and we have to experiment it.

Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working

ML: I never answer phone calls or messages when I am at the studio so, I am very focused when I am working. I love to be absorbed entirely in my studio or my readings during my working time.

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-

ML: Love it!

I love it when I am criticized! I believe that opening discussions about my work is always interesting and productive and makes me reflect on what I am doing.

Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-

ML: Be yourself. Do not follow trends. Be truthful in what you do. Do not mirror the career of another artist. Each human being is unique and has its trajectory. Stay open to other arts such as music, cinema dance, theatre, etc.…

 

Mariannita Luzzati artwork

 

Jupilings: What is the role of art today-

ML: For me, art’s role is to modify the perception of the world and life taking us out of our comfort zone, confronting us with new questions, making us look inside of ourselves, and finally opening a new window in our lives.

Jupilings: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard

ML: When a white horse passes in front of your window, just jump on it! (I received this advice when I was in my twenties and was reluctant to accept an invitation I received to make my first solo show at a significant Gallery in São Paolo. So, I jumped on it!)

Work With Your Strengths To Experience The State Of Flow – Positive Vibes Series

Clearly, it is rewarding to work with your strengths, yet, the question is, how do you recognize your strengths? When it comes to assessing what you are good at, the understanding can become fuzzy. At this stage, you are at risk of underperforming or be conceited, which is different from being self-confident. Consequently, this state of confusion brings about indecisiveness, which is useful if you tend to it. How? Well:

  • Uncertainties and doubts raise questions
  • You will start filling self-analysis exercises
  • Spotting patterns that suggest your forte
  • You reach out to pragmatic family, friends, and colleagues to seek feedback
  • Taking note of what you have learned, you draw a self-portrait and create an action plan to make effective use of your strengths.

Notably, the activity should also include identifying your weaknesses. Upon reflection, recognizing your imperfections and improving on indeed become one of your most vital strengths. Make sure that this self-awareness inspires you and creates a commitment to self-improvement. However, the problem arises if you spend your energy trying to improve your weakness rather than exploring and practicing your strengths once you have uncovered them. J.K Rowling focused solely on her creative mind and writing skills instead of improving her lack of organizational skills. In an interview, she said: “I am one of the most disorganized people in the world and, as I later proved, the worst secretary ever.” For instance, in a sport setting, a soccer coach spots the core strength and ensures that the player is placed in a position to accentuate its power.

It is a known fact that when you use your strengths, you will be happier. The evidence lies in extensive research based on positive psychology interventions. The idea that brings your focus on using your “signature strengths” in a new way. A treatment method or “intentional activities aim to cultivate positive feelings, behaviors, or cognitions” (Sin and Lyubomirsky, 2009, p. 468). Hence, if you aim to progress while maintaining and boosting your mental state’s well-being, learn to leverage your strengths to reach your goals. And remember strength is characterized as a trait that:

  • Energizes you
  • Makes you stronger
  • Makes you thrive
  • It engages you
  • Fulfills you
  • Notably, it leads you to be in the zone or a flow state – a mental state that keeps you fully involved and feels with joy so that you are entirely absorbed in the activity.
Jean Michel Bihorel

Featured image by Bruno Birkhofer Photography 

Can Meditation Change The Brain?

Throughout history, meditation has been practiced in one form or another to assert the primal instinct to connect with oneself and the universe. Perhaps it is the most effective channel to reach clarity and harness the power of thought. Interestingly, the practice has its variations from the sweat lodge ceremonies of Native Americans, reading the Bible, the whirling dervishessound rituals of aboriginals, and Islamic practices of prayers. Nevertheless, meditation trains the brain and enables us to shift our brainwaves from the working mind to deep sleep.

I briefly touched on the Alpha State of mind in my last post; now, I like to delve into moving from one state of mind to another through meditation. So I decided to learn about the process and write about my findings in a series of blog posts.

Let’s start with our brain frequencies:

  • Gamma State (30-100Hz) is when your brain is extremely active and retains information. In this state, you are an active learner, and the assimilated information is lasting. However, if it is excessively stimulated, it can lead to anxiety. A good example is when you attend a seminar or a workshop, and the coaches urge you to jump up and down or dance.
  • Beta State(13-30HZ) is associated with the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that orchestrates our thoughts and actions from personality expression, decision-making, or keeping our social behaviors under control.
  • Alpha State (9-13Hz) is when the thinking mind slows down becomes calm and peaceful. In this state, the brain’s communication pathways (neural integration) are open to activate the intelligible and reflective mind. The only way to know that you have reached this state is when you are entirely relaxed mentally and physically.
  • Theta State (4-8Hz) is when our brainwaves in its intuitive thinking. Meditation begins in this state, and we can move the thinking mind over to the visual mind. Your brain is extremely receptive to visualization.
  • Delta State (1-3 Hz) is when we are in deep and dreamless sleep. In this state, through transcendental meditation, we can reach the unconscious realm and connect with the collective unconscious or the universal mind.

When you train your brain to move from the active state to a calm state through mindful meditation, the brain undergoes positive changes. It heightens emotional intelligence and strengthens the resilience of your mind leading to good physical well-being. In a study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia, “Is meditation associated with altered brain structure?”, they confirm that the brains of consistent meditators have thicker tissue in those regions responsible for body awareness, enhanced focus, stress management and attention control. (Referring to Anterior cingulate cortex – the area associated with controlling impulses and maintaining attention).

Screen Shot 2019-05-15 at 4.07.00 PM
ANTONIO MORA

Furthermore, the research outlines that mindful meditation’s regular practice activates some regions in the brain while other regions are deactivated. For instance, the brain region associated with many negative emotions such as anxiety or sadness gets smaller with practice.
Overall, integrating mindful meditation techniques into our lives will significantly reduce our unproductive emotions and boosts self-regulation.

Screen Shot 2019-05-15 at 4.08.19 PM
ANTONIO MORA

In the next post, I will introduce a few techniques on applying this alternative well-being approach into our daily lives to manage our emotions.

Featured image by ANTONIO MORA

How to feel lasting joy?

I have been contemplating the word joy or happiness in the past few years if I may use them interchangeably. What’s best for me, what gives me pleasure, and most importantly, how do I measure my well-being? Typically, our pursuits, interests, experiences, and how we choose to live form part of our well-being value list. Hopping from the linguistic meaning of the word to the spectrum of emotions defined by psychology and finally to the philosophical value of joy, I was on a mission to find my answers.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 3.32.52 PM.png
Cyril Rolando

The first lesson was that life could go well or not and influence our state of mind; however, to feel joy is about orienting the heart towards peace. Taking a dip into the real meaning of pleasure was to remove all the superficial layers of how people portray their personality as a smiling emoji. At the same time, one could observe their tensions and frustrations.

I learned that it is OK to explore, and you are not obligated to smile all the time and pretend to be cheery when you are fearful, frustrated or when your incredible inner hulk is about to pop up. All the emotional rollercoaster ride had nothing to do with feeling genuine joy.

Deep down, we all can feel happiness! If you have no desire to be part of the pretentious Cheshire cat group on a merry go round, then start the inner-reflection. Hush all the noise of what encapsulates joy characterized by the latest trends in cultural concepts, social belief, or editorial images and re-connect to your heart.

Throughout civilization, whether through Eastern or Western philosophies and scientific research, the indication that the heart is the most important organ in the human body is prevalent. From Aristotle or Abu-Nasr al-Farabi, Ninth century Arabic philosopher, to Prof. Paul Pearsall, a clinical neuropsychologist and clinical professor of the University of Hawaii, they all pointed to the power of the heart to store memory, a center of reason and having the ability to think. Prof. Pearsall’s research on heart transplant patients indicated the possibility that a donor’s personality traits transfer to the recipient. The parallels ranged from the same taste in food and music to sexual and job preferences. Moreover, the electrical frequencies of our hearts are much stronger than our brains. Importantly, our heart transmits many instructions to the brain on what to do.

Our heart and brain communicate in four ways: 1- Neurologically, via nerve impulses, 2- Energetically, via magnetic fields, 3- Biochemically, via hormones and neuro transmitting chemicals, 4- Biophysically, via blood flow. The energetic interaction of the heart, most specifically the heart’s magnetic field, envelops every cell of the body and extends out in all directions, 6 to 10 feet, into space. Hence, the coherence between the heart and the brain is vital to feel joy. This state of flow is to quiet your mind and to open your heart.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 2.52.11 PM.png
Only for you – Catrin Welz-Stein

During the chaos, confusion, or heartbreak, align your self-healing power with the concept of peace. The harmony and the lack of hostility take the individual to a time in the future. If we have the capacity to lower our blood pressure, improve our hormonal balance to recover from heart attacks, then we are able to self-regulate independent of the external conditions. A clear intention to feel joy elevates the electrical charge and serves as a magnet. Knowing that happiness is one of the heart’s elevated feelings, learning about self-regulation and practice leads to lasting fulfillment.
By improving brain function through the heart, we reach mental clarity and discern a joy greater and more profound than a smile.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 3.36.11 PM
Cyril Rolando

The second lesson was to stop judging and getting over the fear of being judged. Being compared, evaluated, or to make a judgment are exhausting sentiments. Recognize that the anxiety of disappointment, fear of failure, or shame is just a perception. By opening your heart to find harmony and immersing yourself and others into the created space, the judgments become irrelevant and unworthy.

Mastering to use your heart’s wisdom allows you to reach the inner-peace and a fulfilling relationship with yourself, which can immensely impact and be the magnet for the pursuit of happiness and life you want to lead.

Screen Shot 2019-05-06 at 3.41.02 PM.png

Cyril Rolando

Featured image by Cyril Rolando

Take Free Character Test To Build on Your Strength

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu

The concept of building on your character strengths is compelling as; naturally, it has a practical impact on your thought process, your experiences, and your actions. Mainly, the idea is to stop thinking about what is wrong with you or your problems and all the opposing views of oneself and concentrate on your best qualities.

Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 5.23.38 PM
Igor Morski artwork

“The aim of Positive Psychology is to catalyze a change in Psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life.”  – Martin Seligman

Exerting mindful energy to change the gloomy, critical lens about yourself and shifting the view towards your positive qualities is a buffer against anxiety, lack of motivation, the need for approval, or perfectionism. What makes us effective is our ability to master our strength, a positive mind stimulus leading to a fulfilling life that contributes to our wellbeing.

What makes us strong are the qualities that show high moral standards; in other words, “virtues.” In Character Strengths and Virtues, Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology and Christopher Peterson, identifies six classes of virtues shared practically in all cultures that made up 24 measurable dimensions of human strengths, based on scientific research and by extensive studies on all major religions and philosophical traditions:

Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, love of learning, perspective

Courage: bravery, persistence, integrity

Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence

Justice: citizenship, fairness, leadership

Temperance: forgiveness and mercy, humility, prudence, self-control

Transcendence: an appreciation of beauty & excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, spirituality

Developing the core capacities of human beings achieved by the virtues mentioned above helps individuals maintain their wellbeing and live an accomplished life. To apply this concept, the positive psychology researchers have created tools and tests in a practical and rigorous scientific manner to identify the strengths of character measured by their virtues. The aim is to recognize your signature strength and practice it in new ways each day. For example, if your highest strength is creativity, each day you practice different ways to be creative, whether in introducing yourself, blending creativity in your appearance, learning about a creative person, and so forth.

 

Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 5.33.02 PM
Igor Morski artwork

At the core of every individual lies specific character strengths that once honed solidly boost self-confidence gives a sense of direction and the drive to achieve goals. However, innate talent is not enough to ensure a successful result. The ability to improve and play on your strengths while skillfully discern when, how, and in what context your best qualities can amplify productivity and growth is the key to success.

As you focus on improving your good character traits, positive emotions will take shape. This optimistic element encourages tenacity and helps to cope with your vulnerabilities and challenges. You can learn more about your character strengths for free on www.viacharacter.org. The VIA Institute on Character is a non-profit organization based in Cincinnati, Ohio, dedicated to bringing the science of character strengths to the world by supporting research, creating and validating character development surveys, and developing practical tools for individuals and practitioners.

“Positive Psychology takes you through the countryside of pleasure and gratification, up into the high country of strength and virtue, and finally to the peaks of lasting fulfilment: meaning and purpose (Seligman 2002, p. 61).”

It is worth mentioning that we have a social responsibility for the benefit of society and our individual lives to engage, be useful, and lead a meaningful life. To fulfill this obligation, two of the fundamental elements that reinforce the wellness of our state of mind and enrich our life and life for others are to cultivate our strengths powered by optimism.

Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 5.38.48 PM
Igor Morski artwork