Sheila Asato is, to put it quite simply, a creative in every sense of the word. When asked her mission as an artist, she says "My mission as an artist is to support healing across cultures through art. I love collecting stories, visual and verbal, and giving them form through the book arts. My work is deeply informed by dreaming, which allows me to go below the surface of culture and language, to a common world we all share each night. While much of the dream experience can never be fully translated into waking life, I believe we can invite the transformative energy of dreaming into waking life through the arts."
Sheila doesn't consciously choose what area or discipline of art to pursue, but rather allows her dreams to guide her in the right direction. In the past, her dreams have led her to painting with watercolors, teaching and facilitating workshops, living in and studying the culture of Japan, designing and making books, cross-cultural training of business people and their families, and opening up her own creative studio right here in St. Louis Park. Lately, her dreams have been leading her into more writing, which she hopes will allow her to reach more people and receive more funding through grants.
While we all, in some cases unknowingly, dream in our sleep sleep, Sheila has found a way to harness the creative energy of dreams. "Dreams are essential to our psychological and emotional well-being. It is our most emotional state of consciousness, so that's where we work stuff out...Dreams are essential to the consolidation of memory...Dreaming is essential to survival...We generally don't value states of consciousness outside of waking, rational awareness of physical reality, and there's a whole lot more to life than just that."
Sheila has found a way to present this tough-to-grasp concept of multiple levels of consciousness through book arts. As I held and paged through a book she created, I admired it's beautiful colors and textures, but saw it only as a book, in the way I've seen so many books throughout my life. She told me that's how I see my everyday waking life, only in the dimension I know and am familiar seeing. I handed the book back to her, and as she took it, she opened it up to reveal a wonderful web of pages that folded and unfolded in ways I hadn't even considered. Light poured through the pages and the true magic of the book became so tangibly clear. That is what you can unlock in your dreams, she told me. There is so much more depth and substance to it than what first meets the eye.
At Monkey Bridge Arts, Sheila offers individual and group dreamwork, in addition to visual art lessons like bookmaking and watercolor painting. Sheila hopes that in the next five years, her studio adjacent to the historic Walker St. downtown area might become the heart of the arts in St. Louis Park. "I'd love to have all these apartments and the spaces here be filled with musicians, and artists, and actors, and writers. Wouldn't that be cool to make this an arts district?" Sheila is open to visits at her studio where you can see her work and learn more about her fascinating artistic journey. Learn and see more at www.monkeybridgearts.com