Lynn Creighton’s Empowering Bronze Female Figures

A neighbor pointed out Lynn Creighton to me as she glided past us on her three-wheeled bike in Ventura. I had recently moved to the WAV Apartments, and I knew about Ms. Creighton’s reputation as a talented sculptor of female figures before I actually met her in person. Over the course of a couple of conversations with her, I have learned more about her creative process and unique life. Ms. Creighton’s artwork comes from a place of personal experience, reinforced by research into the history of women by authors such as Marija Gimbutas, Betty Friedan, Riane Eisler, and Merlin Stone. I believe that in order for humanity to thrive we need artists like Lynn Creighton to transform energy into a form that connects us all to the deepest levels of what it means to be human and celebrate life.

This paper is designed to support my belief, and is organized into three main sections. In the first section, I discuss the significance of transformational ceremonies in Ms. Creighton’s life and her creative process, while in the second, I focus on the historical information about the Goddess religion to which she introduced me. In the final section, I discuss my impression of Ms. Creighton’s bronze female sculptures, including why I believe they play an important role in empowering people today.

History of Lynn Creighton

“I love clay. I really love clay. I love what it will do,” Ms. Creighton explained enthusiastically as we talked about her artwork at Studio 1317 on Ventura Avenue. Ms. Creighton is a well-established sculptor, arts educator, and energy practitioner, with a resume that includes over 150 professional exhibitions and multiple awards for her art. She has taught art classes for over 35 years. most recently including a position as ceramics instructor at California Lutheran University until she retired in 2013. Ms. Creighton also has a deep spiritual knowledge that is grounded in over 25 years of experience in Native American transformational ceremonies (Creighton – Resume).

Ms. Creighton’s space is alive with bronze female sculptures. Her women range in size from those that can be hand-held, reminiscent of the Venus of Willendorf[1], to exuberant abstracted figurative forms around three feet tall. I asked about the creative process, specifically about the work of artists to which her sculptures have been compared[2] and the artists who inspire her creatively:

Jean Arp, he was divorcing himself from predetermined shape as his catalyst. He was a DaDa/Surrealist artist. He was letting shape evolve and that’s who I am as an artist. I want shape to evolve without my predetermined idea of what it should be: the playfulness of Miró and the wandering line of Paul Klee. I care about energy and energy is what I find in my interaction with the clay. My energy, with all my belief structure, is transferred in my work with my clay. The clay holds my energy, shows me what it can be and that is more of a Surrealist idea then a sculptor’s idea. (Creighton – Interview)

Surrealism was officially born as an art movement in 1924 (Hopkins 243), and unlike the DaDa anti-art movement that came before, it incorporated an intent to create a new mythology by connecting people with the unconscious (Hopkins 255). Identity, including sexuality, was a central theme for many Surrealist artists (Hopkins 271), and based on Ms. Creighton’s artistic connection to Surrealism, I was not surprised with how she described her creative process in more detail:

When I begin to work with it [clay] I have an intimate involvement with what is happening with it and I’m asking the clay to show me something. For 25 years, I asked the clay to show me the women in celebration and, as the women in celebration began to emerge, that was my reward. That was my reward for that searching. (Creighton)

Ms. Creighton’s investigation of women in celebration paralleled her facilitation of Native American transformational ceremonies and travel to ancient sacred locations. I was curious about the connection between her studio art practice and her spiritual experiences. Here is how she describes the connection:

From my perspective, travel and inquiry have been important … there were ancient people who committed themselves to finding deeper levels of themselves and life reality … we can pursue so deeply what it is that life is all about – beyond the limitation of what our culture thinks or what someone tells us life is all about. And that is what the ceremonial structure of the Native American is all about … The people that came to me, in the purification lodge, wanted things like vision quests and prayer dances … What does this opportunity allow to come up to be revealed in your heart? For many women the underlying issue that came up was sexual disturbance … (Creighton – Interview)

At the start of Ms. Creighton’s investigation into women’s sexuality, she attended a lecture by Marija Gimbutas[3] that led her to search out ancient Goddess cultures. Between 1986 and 1999, she experienced deep spiritual connections to the Goddess in Peru, Greece, Malta, England, and Brazil. Ms. Creighton attributes her ability to connect with the energy of the Goddess to her extensive experience with Native American transformational ceremonies (Creighton – Interview). She has a deep connection to her divine inner Goddess, a power all women share, and she expresses that energy through each woman that she sculpts:

I am trying [through art] to reawaken knowledge in women that they have the power within them to celebrate their own lives, and it is their sexual power. Our orgasm is our gift to celebrate life. It is the spark of illumination to our inner being … I have a strong commitment to the idea that sexuality is sacred; I have that commitment because I have experienced it … I have done the ceremonies and I feel connected to the sacredness of life and I carry that wherever I am. (Creighton – Interview)

As we came to the end of our interview, Ms. Creighton explained that she was no longer sculpting women in celebration; she has over 100 figures in her series and it is complete. She is moving into a new area, and her recent sculpture, “We are all in this Together,” is a circular gathering of long cone-like natural shapes connected to each other in a balanced and interdependent way. “We are all in this together’ is one form of about ten expressing various ways we “do love” which is what se is now working on.

History of the Goddess

In 25,000 BC, the foundation of the Goddess religion originated in Europe and emerged later in the Near East. The timeline remains speculative because information on the Paleolithic existence of Goddess worship predates written records (Stone 10). Many historical records of Goddess worship, which died out around AD 500 (Stone 92), describe a primitive cult culture. However, Ms. Creighton believes it is critical to look at the evidence:

Archaeological and mythological evidence of the veneration of the female deity as creator and lawmaker of the universe, prophetess, provider of human destines, inventor, healer, hunter, and valiant leader in battle suggests the title “fertility cult” may be a gross oversimplification of a complex theological structure. (Stone 176)

It is possible that a deep truth about life, lost in pre-history, holds key information about women’s sexuality that could bring a better balance to life on Earth today. It is possible the “ … establishment of husbandry and domestication … ” (Stone 27) continues to limit how women are viewed today. It is also possible that submission was the only response to the violence mandated in biblical times, such as:

You must completely destroy all the places where the nations you dispossess have served their gods, on high mountains, on hills, under any spreading tree; you must tear down their alters, smash their pillars, cut down their sacred poles, set fire to the carved images of their gods and wipe out their name from that place. (Stone 138)

Ms. Creighton believes that the traumatic events of our past linger today in the collective subconscious of our culture. Her compelling summary of what happened creates visual images that are hard to forget:

They [male god worshipers] turned … sexuality to evil from sexuality as a celebration. Priests were not allowed to be openly sexual … From women as priestesses to women dead on the garbage heaps in Athens. I think we have to be aware of this history. Men have to be aware of it too. Because in the process, men have been given the job of killing and maiming … any women who is claiming her [sexual and spiritual] power. (Creighton – Interview)

Many questions swirled around my mind after seeing Lynn Creighton’s bronze female sculptures, not so much because I had never known about Goddess cultures, but rather because I was aware for the first time of how profoundly different my life experience might be if the Goddess was openly worshiped today. I sourced a few of the books Ms. Creighton mentioned during our interview and embarked on some reading.

I have worked in arts, entertainment, and marketing for over 10 years, which is probably why the reference to a 1960s advertisement stood out on reading The Feminine Mystique. Although I cannot imagine a similar ad being run today, I do feel the underlining degradation of human spirit and sexuality remains at the forefront of promoting our consumer products. I recognized in myself the lingering echo of cultural brainwashing when reading:

Manufacturers put out brassieres with false bosoms of foam rubber for little girls of ten. And an advertisement for a child’s dress, sizes 3–6x, in the New York Times in the fall of 1960, said “She Too Can Join the Man-Trap Set” (Friedan 2)

I asked several of my friends, who have diverse religious backgrounds, about the topic of Goddess worshipers. Overall, I was surprised to discover that everyone I surveyed seems to reference the beginning of religious history at a point after the destruction of Goddess cultures. It seems little is known about the 20,000+ years of Goddess worshiping on Earth.

Empowering People Through Art

I find Lynn Creighton’s bronze figures to be empowering. Within me, her sculptures initiated an interest in women’s sexual history that has raised questions and created a new awareness. I believe a profound shift in perception, such as becoming aware of Goddess worship, can stimulate a biological change, resulting in a mental-physical balance and improved bodily well-being.

When I first looked at Ms. Creighton’s bronze figures, I compared her forms in my mind to pristine white marble Roman sculptures and romanticized plastic Barbie dolls. I became aware of voices from my subconscious mind that brought up body-shaming comments based on unrealistic beauty standards. The most amazing thing happened as I looked at Ms. Creighton’s sculptures; the women held their celebratory postures firmly and were impervious to all the shameful judgments of my subconscious. I felt a shift in my perception, and a new standard for beauty began to take root – one grounded in the celebration of life energy.

Ms. Creighton’s female bronze sculptures are smooth and sensual. Her women look playful and solid, and each figure is organic and natural. The beauty of her sculptures is captivating and unique at every angle. In observing the forms, I experienced a shift in my perception of both the sculpture itself and my own body; I felt the sacred beauty of my own body and a spark of joy at the idea of women everywhere celebrating life.

I believe the threat of pain is motivating a shift to pleasure, as “Ours is a time when ‘man’s conquest of nature’ threatens all life on our planet, when a dominator mind-set and advanced technology are a potentially lethal mix” (Eisler 266). I see Ms. Creighton’s artwork as a catalyst for facilitating the shift toward pleasure discussed in Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body:

It is the opportunity, and the challenge, for both women and men to construct for ourselves and our children a world where pleasure rather than pain can be primary – a world where we can both be more free and more inter connected, integrating spirituality and sexuality … (Eisler 336)

By creating new forms of a Goddess-worshiping culture, through artwork like Ms. Creighton’s, we can heal the sexual and spiritual injuries that limit our cultural progress today. Lynn Creighton imagines how things might be different in a world where the Goddess was returned to a place of divine worship:

We haven’t looked at it enough yet and we have not developed that part of ourselves yet. What we will find is hard to say – what to celebrate? The heart-to-heart exchange with another human being, the love you have for your child or your mate, the clarity of the water as the wave turns, the capacity of a bud to become a flower. What is there in life to celebrate? It’s a huge idea. How would we structure our lives? (Creighton – Interview)

The human capacity to change, even on a biological level, is more radical than most people think it is. Thinking is the problem and the solution; in another sense, perception and subconscious programming is the problem and the solution. In The Biology of Belief, Bruce H. Lipton PhD explains the link between our biology and perception:

Epigenetics is the science of how environmental signals select, modify, and regulate gene activity. This new awareness reveals that our genes are constantly being remodeled in response to life experiences. Which again emphasizes that our perceptions of life shape our biology. (Lipton 171)

Conclusion

In order for humanity to thrive, we need artists like Lynn Creighton, who is able to transform energy into a physical form through her creative process. Her sculptures can be perceived by all the senses in the body. It is in the perception of form – for example, Ms. Creighton’s sculptures of women in celebration – that people can make new connections on the deepest levels of their human experience. It is possible to experience a shift in perception from observing artwork. I choose to perceive a future global culture that thrives on partnership, pleasure, and the celebration of life. I thank Lynn Creighton for spending 25 years asking for the woman in celebration to be revealed to her, and through her creativity, to me.

Works Cited

Creighton, Lynn. “Resume.” Lynn Creighton • Sculptor. Web. 02 August 2014. <http://www.sacred-source.com/resume.html>

Creighton, Lynn. Personal Interview. 09 August 2014.

Eisler, Riane. Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012. Kindle file.

Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique (50th Anniversary Edition). New York & London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013. Kindle file.

Hopkins, David. Dada and Surrealism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Kindle file.

Lipton, Bruce H. (PhD). The Biology of Belief. California & New York: Hay House, 2013. Kindle file.

“Marija Gimbutas.” Wikipedia (last updated 02 August 2014). Web. 13 August 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Marija_Gimbutas&action=history&gt;

Stone, Merlin. When God Was A Woman (Great Britain: The Paradise Papers). New York: Barnes & Noble, 1976. Kindle file.

Venus of Willendorf .” Wikipedia (last updated 11 August 2014). Web. 13 August 2014. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf&gt;

Zimmer, William. “Clay into Spirit.” Lynn Creighton • Sculptor. Web. 02 August 2014. <http://www.sacred-source.com/clay.html>


[1] The Venus of Willendorf, now known in academia as the Woman of Willendorf, is a 4.25-inch (10.8 cm) high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been created between 28,000 and 25,000 BCE (Venus).

[2] Lynn Creighton’s work has been compared to the “Pioneering visions of Henry Moore, Jean Arp, or Constantin Brancusi” (Zimmer).

[3] Marija Gimbutas (Lithuanian: Marija Gimbutienė; January 23, 1921–February 2, 1994) was a Lithuanian-American archaeologist known for her research into the Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of “Old Europe,” and for her widely accepted Kurgan hypothesis, which located the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic Steppe. Gimbutas’s assertion that Neolithic sites in Lithuania and across Europe provided evidence of matriarchal pre-Indo-European societies was not well received in scholarly circles, but became a keystone of the Goddess movement (Marija Gimbutas).

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