This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of In the Mind's Eye, the official newsletter of the Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society & Institute.
GOING “GAGA” OVER THE PSYCHOANALYSIS OF ART!
By Margaret Fulton, Ph.D., ABPP, LP
Do you ever watch the news on Kare 11 or Fox 9? Or do you ever check out the articles posted online with WCCO? If so, you may have caught the drift that one of our MPS members, Marnette Doyle, LICSW, was recently commissioned by Xcel Energy to create an “out-of –the-box” memento for Lady Gaga on tour here in the Twin Cities May 20th.
I am not inclined to watch the local news, but when I received this briefing from a local art hound, it certainly did more than just catch my attention! Lady Gaga, whoa! An awesome piece of news, but what was all this about? With my curiosity piqued, I could not resist the temptation to call Marnette, not just with celebratory best wishes, but also with the hope of catching the back-story to this rather exceptional headline offset in bold! So here it is in short:
It was the funniest thing! I was on my way to work and stopped for coffee at a coffee shop, nothing unusual to that, but when I went in I could not help but notice two local very distinguished well-dressed women-“fashionistas”- enjoying their lattes. I commented on their dress and asked if they would mind if I photographed them for use in my artwork, as I was admiring of their style and taste in dress. As we chatted, I explained that my work as a therapist and as an artist was informed by psychoanalysis, and that they had caught my attention because my most recent art was pottery inspired by fashion, couture and design. I had already started working on leather–inspired tumblers and was hoping to keep working along these lines. At the end of the conversation, they agreed to a mini-photo-shot, we exchanged cards, and I rushed off to work for the day!
As I found out, the commissioned project was inspired by Lady Gaga’s love of tea, which Xcel’s Public and Media Relations Department had decided merited a singularly beautifully designed and custom made tea set befitting the star herself. And, whether by fate, plain circumstance, or good fortune, a week after meeting the two women at the coffee shop, Marnette received a call from Xcel asking her to do the tea set for Lady Gaga’s May visit to the Twin Cities.
As most of us know, creativity is what makes an artist and through which the artist creates her art. The artist has something to say but without the creative process, the artist would not have a way to express ideas. And, artists are only as accomplished as the tools that they have to work with, to give shape to their creations, and to transfer their vision into art. While some artists are preternaturally adept, knowing immediately how to paint a stunning likeness of a scene or how to blend colors and media in form, the making of a ceramic tea set for this occasion posed a different sense of logistics to Marnette as artist.
With this in mind, I was interested in asking Marnette to describe her process as an artist and its relation to psychoanalysis. She described how her conception of the work began in reflecting on how to access Lady Gaga as subject; on the one hand, capturing her outré artistry as a performer, who claims to liberate herself by constantly re-inventing her sound and image, while still preserving her personal essence of boldness, femininity, playfulness, and elegance. The whole idea of Gaga as subject gave impetus to her descriptions of the many artistic interplays of mind and their transformative function of “thinking and working more unconsciously than not.”
These musings harkened back to work that she had done during her pregnancy and after the birth of her daughter several years earlier. Through reading the work of Thomas Ogden, she had begun “thinking and working out of bounds” by drawing on Ogden’s use of reverie, dialectics, and the intersubjective “analytic third.” By applying these concepts to her artwork focusing on the rhythms and unconscious dialogue between mother and baby, Marnette described her work as emanating from what we started calling the “artistic-analytic third.”
The “artistic-analytic third,” in which the subjectivities of both Marnette and Gaga were at play in the creation (and the unconscious co-creation) of the final piece, evolved over the course of hours, days and weeks. Through artistic and analytic reverie, imagination, and hovering attention, Marnette immersed herself in hours upon hours of listening to Lady G’s ARTPOP tour album, while staying engaged in a combination of wheel-throwing the clay, glazing, and delicately sculpting a teapot, creamer, and two tea cups! The accoutrements for each ranged from satin and fur to velvet and leather. Once completed, the entire set was packaged in an elegantly fur-lined hatbox with Lady G’s initials on it! And to boot, all this came to fruition in her kitchen-as-atelier!
In reflecting back on the whole of her experience, Marnette described her process as one of profound personal immersion that was facilitative of one artist interacting with the other as subject at a deep intra-psychic level, while freely allowing the creative process and unconscious dialogue between the two to unfold! The finished product, as an artistic-analytic object, clearly bears the signature of Marnette as its artiste-interpreter, and simultaneously, each piece also bears the indelible imprint of the creative dance between two separate individual artists and the unique co-mingling of their subjectivities!
** Marnette Doyle’s work is currently on display at three local galleries: Paper Hat (Minneapolis), Sikora Salon (Downtown Minneapolis), and Regla DeOro (LynLake Minneapolis).
In the past she has exhibited at the following juried art shows: “Analytic Visions” at the Center for Modern Psychoanalysis in NYC: “Potential Space: An Exploration of Art, Creativity and the Psyche” at the Northwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study; and “Fabrications” at Ten at Crossings in Zumbrota, MN