Art & Enchantment: Paula Ziegman

Artist Statement: Paula Ziegman

The early years

Given to a rich inner life since early childhood, my imagination was laced with colorful scenarios from the very beginning.

My dear parents supplied me with spools of every shade of thread, containers of sequins, large boxes of crayons, tablets of drawing paper, glue, etc., all blessed with just the right amount of privacy, allowing me the capacity to luxuriate in the creative process without pressure or people-pleasing. It was one of their great gifts to me, and from this gift I found my way to adventure after adventure on paper, happily lost for hours upon end, coming up for air just in time for supper.

Thus, in my sunny, second story bedroom, my art-induced fantasy life began. It was pretty idyllic with windows facing north and west, filled with birdsong in spring, heavenly calm of falling snow in winter. Autumn meant a return to school and “reality” …making long lasting friendships and learning to think “inside” the box.

The City of Angels

Summers had us off to the west coast on “The City of Los Angeles”, a train that departed Omaha around two in the morning. The sounds, smells, movement of long distance train travel was wonder-filled! Sights of small towns with long pastoral stretches in between certainly provided further grist for the romantic/creative mill.

Looking back, my life at the time was a poignant mixture of both primal pain and euphoric bliss that fed an internal backdrop of vivid dreaming, from which a deep sensitivity and perception arose. My nervous system had to fend for itself. However, that’s another story.

Suffice it to say, loving the beauty and mystery of nature helped me heal. I became a walker. Having a keen curiosity for the hidden and unknown, and a bottomless sense of wonder, I travelled far into secret gardens, healing through the extraordinary light and shadow particular to midwestern seasons; though it was along the California coastline where I found a profound sense of peace. The sea air and warm Santa Ana breezes both quickened and calmed my spirit. The fragrance of Night Blooming Jasmine lit a passion in my soul that felt reminiscent of other lifetimes. These sensations all came to play later on in my images. I believe they were and often are the source of my better work.

Witness and guide

In 1985, I became a primal therapist after completing a four-year internship in Madison, Wisconsin. I returned to Santa Monica to begin what turned out to be a thirty-five year private practice.

Sitting with another human being in a softly lit primal environment, present to honor and see the wounded child through the horrors of her/his life story… This led me to an artistic haven of often mystical lands and familiar abstract figures and faces, though in my mind’s eye they were deeply authentic. These were beautiful souls sitting in the fire, eventually emerging less encumbered and more open to life’s joys.  

It was my privilege to serve as witness and guide for individuals and couples during the years that I had my practice. I believe that it helped me evolve another layer of compassion and depth. I hope so, as I, too, sat in my own fire, releasing and burning away the wounds of my own early trauma. I truly believe that this therapeutic process saved me from an adulthood of depression and anxiety, both of which resolved themselves after completing my own primal work. Happily today, healing has sustained itself through a continued path in creating art…a course flowing with inspiration that’s led me on.

“A full circle in safe keeping”

In recent years, my image-making has become a daily practice. The search continues…secret gardens are yet to be found.

In a harsh and divided world, it is art-making, nature, prayer and love that keep me afloat. It is from a deep sense of remembering a place of peace and beauty, kindness and faith that I now imagine and birth the pictures I share. Oftentimes, there is a sun or a moon in my images. These symbolize the circle of life. If we are so fortunate, I believe we return to the innocence and grace of childhood in our artistic liberation.

A return with greater compassion and understanding for self and others in our family dramas and creative endeavors. There is a sacredness to be respected through the eyes of the child filled with wonder. And the healthy, mature adult will sometimes invent new visuals, perhaps more intricate, perhaps not, though often it is with one’s hand around the child’s hand in the process. A full circle in safe keeping.

In other words…

I’d like to end with this quote which I’ve thought could nicely replace all that I’ve said.

“For everything sacred has the substance of dreams and memories, and so we experience the miracle of what is separated from us by time or distance suddenly being made tangible. Dreams, memories, the sacred—they are all alike in that they are beyond our grasp. Once we are even marginally separated from what we can touch, the object is sanctified; it acquires the beauty of the unattainable, the quality of the miraculous. Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch. How strange man is! His touch defiles and yet he contains the source of miracles.”

― Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow


For inquiries regarding her artwork, Paula Ziegman can be reached at [email protected].