This post continues my series “In-Sync with…” aimed to get a closer look at contemporary artists and art professionals from Chicago and abroad. Read it, enjoy it, share it, and get in-sync with psychologist & gallerist Dr. Yanina Gomez.
When I married my wife 17 years ago, I never imagined that one day she would turn her expertise and lucrative career in the field of psychology to the field of art. This Summer, she made the switch. In this interview I asked her to answer questions about her experience with art and psychology. At the time of this interview, we are working together forming our biggest project to date to help artists manage their careers both emotionally and practically. More about that in a future post. In the meantime, enjoy the interview.
SG: Where did you go to school and what is your degree?
YG: I obtained my BA degree in Psychology and minor in Communications (Public Speaking) from Trinity Christian College. Next, I earned a Masters in Psychology with a specialty in School Psychology from Governors State University. As my interest in research in the field of psychology increased, I decided to complete a doctorate degree in Educational Psychology (Ph.D.).
SG: What is your area of interest in the world of psychology?
YG: My interest in the field of psychology is continuously evolving based on the circumstances and experiences that surround me. I have always been fascinated by human cognition and human behavior/emotions. During the completion of my doctorate, I focused on these areas. As years went by, I became highly interested in the influence fine art has in the behavior, mood and reactions of individuals.
SG: How did you get involved with 33 Contemporary Gallery?
YG: To make a long story short, I happen to be married to the founder of the gallery. While I was practicing psychology, I was helping my husband with the gallery business on a limited basis. As years went by, I realized how much he was enjoying this endeavor. Slowly, I became more and more interested in the art world. I began to notice how art diminishes tensions, promotes creativity, provokes dynamic open-ended conversations and serves as an effective way to create a powerful environment in which serenity and inspiration harmoniously occur. I also began to speak with individuals who acquire art and listen to their stories. Most individuals shared with me that they purchase artwork that they feel connected with. Others shared how art has transformed their homes and offices into their personal sanctuary. And others have suggested that art challenges their psyche and universal perspectives in many ways.
SG: How does art and psychology intersect in the work you do?
YG: Have you ever been in an office where the only thing on the walls is a quote by someone you’d never heard of? By the time they call your name, you have probably read that quote a hundred times. Have you ever been to a friend’s home and the only thing they have on the walls is a candle holder? Don’t get me wrong, I love scented candles but I bet that the place gives you a feeling of unease, like “this place is so depressing.” Well, as an art consultant who practiced as a psychologist for over 10 years, I enjoy helping individuals and businesses transform their spaces into a personal meaningful environment that not only provides a dazzling effect but also stimulates emotions.
SG: How does the experience of art in our lives affect our psychological well-being?
YG: Let me take you back to that office with only a framed quote hanging on the wall. You’ve been waiting for 35 minutes and the receptionist has not called your name yet. You have read the quote over and over… And over. Time is passing by so slowly. You are becoming impatient and perhaps frustrated. What if, you were surrounded by astounding original artwork? Now, you are not reading the quote over and over, but rather establishing an internal conversation with the art on the walls (i.e., “I wonder what on earth was this artist thinking about when she made this painting?), exploring the artwork (i.e., OMGoodness I did not see that “face” the first time I looked at the work!) or simply having a conversation about the art with the person sitting across from you. Perhaps, you feel connected to the piece at an emotional or intuitive level. You are no longer staring at a quote and the clock, but rather analyzing, imagining, conversing, exploring and enjoying the art.
Now, let me take you to your home. From the moment you enter your home, what type of emotions and thoughts come to your mind? Do you feel that your home is your personal oasis strategically designed to satisfy your emotional, psychological and physiological needs? Or, do you feel that you are entering into an empty white box instead? We all need a safe yet meaningful oasis to recharge. You cannot go on and on and on without refueling your mind, body and soul. Having a personal oasis is essential. And ensuring that this oasis is strategically designed to meet these needs is also important. Art transforms empty bare walls into a room with meaning, culture and visual pleasure. As you acquire art that is meaningful to you, you are not only enhancing the aesthetics of the room but also creating an environment that influences your mood state. You are experiencing art!
SG: You have been helping ordinary people who may not be well versed in art connect to the “experience of art.” Why is that important for you?
YG: Unless you experience art at a personal level, you will not be able to unlock its beauty. I often hear that “ordinary” people cannot experience art because it is too complex. Others may argue that art is for the wealthy. To those who think that way, I respectfully differ. Art is for everyone! Art brings joy, excitement, curiosity, intrigue, creativity, conversations, beauty, the ugly, pleasure, intuition and many other emotions that are experienced by the human race despite social, educational or cultural differences. Art has the power to transform an otherwise empty room into an inspiring place where productivity, creativity, innovation and motivation intertwine beautifully.
To sum, art conveys so much more than merely a pleasant or perhaps unpleasant experience. It really challenges our psyche and our mood state. Since art is a visual channel in which the artist expresses her/his emotions and state of mind, it has a voice, culture, a story, an experience! Art has the potential to change our mood, way of thinking and challenge the status quo. It is when you experience art that you connect with it at a personal level.
Book… For those who are living a “cluttered” life Simplify by Bill Hybels is a great book to check out.
Place to be inspired by…
One sentence advice for an art student… Keep making art, we need it!
Chicago cafe/restaurant… When it comes to an extraordinary latte accompanied by the best Chicago-style bagel, I strongly recommend the Bagelers Coffeehouse on North Lincoln Avenue.