Can a Session With a Medium Spark Creativity? These Artists Gave It a Try, and You Can See the Results in a New Show
Each artist sat with a medium before making work for the New York exhibition.
Artists draw inspiration for their work all over the place—from the news, from friends and family, from dreams. Now, a new group show organized by Brooklyn artist Michael Hambouz has tasked artists with creating pieces in response to a session with a medium, encouraging them to take advantage of the insights offered through clairvoyance. The entire process, perhaps unsurprisingly, was filled with eerie coincidences and fortuitous events.
“I wanted to give artists a new experience that would inspire them to make new work—or maybe they would think it was crazy and they were skeptical about the whole thing, and would provide a lot of inspiration to make work in completely new direction,” Hambouz said.
It’s actually the second show Hambouz has done in collaboration with psychic, medium, and spiritual advisor Hank Hivnor. The first, “Mediums,” at Greenpoint’s Calico Gallery in 2015, was such a success that both men were inspired to include work of their own this time around, at Queens’s Lorimoto Gallery.
A painter himself, Hivnor finds that many of his clients are artists or fashion designers hoping, in part, for an extra creative boost—which is how he initially crossed paths with Hambouz. Their first session was something of a revelation.
“Hank picked up on things, including, verbatim, a new idea I’d written in a sketchbook about a year back and forgotten about,” Hambouz recalled. “I wound up doing that painting series, and it sold out.”
Last year, Hambouz got thinking about the project again when a theme for a local art fair seemed as if drawn from his “Mediums” press release. That day, he got a text from Hivnor, who he hadn’t spoken to in a year or two. They immediately set about planning round two, enlisting Margot Bird, Milton Carter, Maya Hayuk, Kelly Medford, John Orth, Mike Paré, and Rebecca Reeve to take part.
“The first show was so profound,” Hivnor told Artnet News. “It’s about tuning into that what really inspires people and getting the artists to focus on that.”
So, what is a session with Hivnor like? In preparation for this story, I met with him for an hour, which began with the medium reciting a pathway prayer to open the Akashic records, said to be compendium of all human events and thoughts past, present, and future. “I can look at anything in your life that you want to know about that you don’t have access to,” he offered.
“You’ve had other lives where you were keeping track of information for a living,” Hivnor told me. “Before you go somewhere to interview somebody, you send out a part of yourself ahead of time that opens up the energy, so when you arrive there everything’s more relaxed and the information pours out of them. That’s a really interesting technique that you’ve developed.”
He told me that it seemed like I wanted to embark on a big project—my long-term goal is to write a book—and that orange was my power color. “I’m really obsessed with color,” Hivnor added. “I believe that it has healing powers and also influences our emotional states.”
Hivnor’s intuition often leads him to engage with art that the creator has forgotten about or dismissed. On a visit to Hambouz’s studio in preparation for the exhibition, Hivnor ignored the carefully arrayed works set out for his review, instead digging deep into a stack of pieces that had been set aside. “He pulled this painting out that I had done in 2012 of a woman,” said Hambouz. “He asked, ‘Who is this person? This person was terrible to you!'”
Sure enough, he was right. The subject of the painting was a donor to a local arts nonprofit that Hambouz had agreed to paint in exchange for her donation to the organization. But she demanded several changes to the work and ultimately reneged on the agreement to purchase it. “It was a bad enough experience that I was hiding the painting even,” said Hambouz. “I’ve made a lot of alterations to reclaim it, and it’s got me excited about revisiting figurative work, which I’ve done for 20 years.”
Once he had completed his own contribution, Hambouz’s biggest concern in organizing the show was whether or not it would make any sense together. In the end, he realized, there was no need to worry: “Somehow this magical connection between all the work resonated both times around!”
See more works from the exhibition below.
“Mediums II” is on view at Lorimoto Gallery, 1623 Hancock Street, Ridgewood, Queens, New York, October 19–November 10, 2019.
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