Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Our Pains Are Not the Result of Our Flaws: Q&A with Amy Yoshitsu, AiR
Amy Yoshitsu, Recent Artist in Residence at Esalen

You arrive at Esalen, breathe in the ocean air, and allow yourself space to explore for a weekend. Now, imagine if you were there for weeks, able to unravel the possibilities of life and your life’s work. 

Amy Yoshitsu, Esalen’s recent Artist in Residence, remembers that feeling and continues to explore her own potential. “I don’t think I can honestly define my “life’s work” right now,” she told us. “At this stage of my life, I am able to identify what I am currently striving for, and that which I have been and am able to continue contributing. Throughout the whole residency, I was grateful that each day felt so long, so expansive, so full of opportunity.”

Yoshitsu is a multidisciplinary digital creator and sculpture maker who advocates for collective community support as a means for healing and social change. She chatted with us about personal exploration, infrastructure, and the on campus conversations that will add to her next creation.


ESALEN: What were your first impressions when you first arrived?

Amy Yoshitsu: I was stunned by the beauty of the natural land and immediately thought about the labor that produces the verdant compositions within the pathways, gardens and the farm. My senses were also alert to the invitation to let go of the stress and concerns I had been carrying up to that point.

ESALEN: What was your experience of community at Esalen? We understand you interviewed several staff for one of your upcoming works.

AY: I quickly came to identify the people who work AT Esalen as the immediate human infrastructure and the emotional core that grounds visitors or, at least, grounded me during my stay. 

I sought to learn about the dreams, desires, challenges and more of those who spend the majority of their days on or near the property and whose current economic and/or physical circumstances are linked to Esalen. In an attempt to recognize and show appreciation for the emotional and physical labor expended by each staff member, I wanted to acknowledge each Esalen employee by listening to their journey, story and perspective. The impetus to interview as many staff as possible came from my interest in the infrastructural objects on the property, which I am still digitally illustrating and will pair with prose and poetry based on the interviews. 

ESALEN: What is important to you in your creative work? 

AY: I seek to address and validate the negative emotions that can result from acts of performance, compartmentalization, and dissociation driven by the necessity to pay bills and psychologically keep going within our capitalist, white supremacist, and patriarchal society. Through helping us all understand how many of our individual pains are not results of personal flaws but of systemic oppressive systems, acknowledging that there are no simple answers, and being present when listening, I hope to foster solidarity, connectivity and generosity. 

ESALEN: What piece of art or other product that you’ve created makes you most proud?

AY: I know that I have yet to create the work that is the result of my ideal process and inputs. As of now, I am most proud of 20XX, a six-year long series of sculptures (and their resulting images) that contort and amalgamate our shared, built environments, which are embedded with histories of society, building through cycles of demolition and consumption. My advantages and ambivalences within global, public spaces are visually synthesized, and literally located, in my hometown area, the East Bay.

ESALEN: What do you think will be the lasting impact of your residency?

AY: From the perspective of an artist engaged in social analysis, Esalen, like nearly every long-standing institution, especially in the US, must reckon with its legacy and identity which is complicated, layered and multi-faceted.

ESALEN: What does transformation (in the spiritual and emotional sense) mean to you? What brings you joy?

AY: My emotional, behavioral and relationship transformations, characterized by acceptance overtaking fear, are often results of intentional processes that include many challenges and periods of self-doubt. In this context, I can usually envision the goal as greater calm and clarity. 

ESALEN: What kinds of new rituals/practices did the pandemic inspire you to create?

AY: I am currently working to maintain and keep the positive practices developed in the past year: daily cooking and meal prep; taking time to spend with my partner and enjoy a boba break; being generous around time to others and therefore allowing myself that generosity as well.

ESALEN: What explorations will you carry forward that grew out of your residency?

AY: The residency gave me an opportunity to explore multiple facets of my practice — community building, processing of scholarly work, material experimentation, emphasizing social analysis alongside individual healing.

Despite the challenges of coming back into the “real world”, I am trying to hold on to the feeling of expansiveness and opportunity I had when in the Art Barn. I am currently participating in the Summer Residency Program at the School of the Visual Arts and joining the Firehouse Art Collective in Berkeley in an effort to keep and grow the spark that was well-fueled at Esalen.


If you’re interested in the Artist in Residence program, email us: friends@esalen.org

Sculpture by Amy Yoshitsu, Recent Artist in Residence at Esalen
Sculptures by Amy Yoshitsu

Sculpture by Amy Yoshitsu, Recent Artist in Residence at Esalen

Sculpture by Amy Yoshitsu, Recent Artist in Residence at Esalen


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Amy Yoshitsu, Recent Artist in Residence at Esalen

You arrive at Esalen, breathe in the ocean air, and allow yourself space to explore for a weekend. Now, imagine if you were there for weeks, able to unravel the possibilities of life and your life’s work. 

Amy Yoshitsu, Esalen’s recent Artist in Residence, remembers that feeling and continues to explore her own potential. “I don’t think I can honestly define my “life’s work” right now,” she told us. “At this stage of my life, I am able to identify what I am currently striving for, and that which I have been and am able to continue contributing. Throughout the whole residency, I was grateful that each day felt so long, so expansive, so full of opportunity.”

Yoshitsu is a multidisciplinary digital creator and sculpture maker who advocates for collective community support as a means for healing and social change. She chatted with us about personal exploration, infrastructure, and the on campus conversations that will add to her next creation.


ESALEN: What were your first impressions when you first arrived?

Amy Yoshitsu: I was stunned by the beauty of the natural land and immediately thought about the labor that produces the verdant compositions within the pathways, gardens and the farm. My senses were also alert to the invitation to let go of the stress and concerns I had been carrying up to that point.

ESALEN: What was your experience of community at Esalen? We understand you interviewed several staff for one of your upcoming works.

AY: I quickly came to identify the people who work AT Esalen as the immediate human infrastructure and the emotional core that grounds visitors or, at least, grounded me during my stay. 

I sought to learn about the dreams, desires, challenges and more of those who spend the majority of their days on or near the property and whose current economic and/or physical circumstances are linked to Esalen. In an attempt to recognize and show appreciation for the emotional and physical labor expended by each staff member, I wanted to acknowledge each Esalen employee by listening to their journey, story and perspective. The impetus to interview as many staff as possible came from my interest in the infrastructural objects on the property, which I am still digitally illustrating and will pair with prose and poetry based on the interviews. 

ESALEN: What is important to you in your creative work? 

AY: I seek to address and validate the negative emotions that can result from acts of performance, compartmentalization, and dissociation driven by the necessity to pay bills and psychologically keep going within our capitalist, white supremacist, and patriarchal society. Through helping us all understand how many of our individual pains are not results of personal flaws but of systemic oppressive systems, acknowledging that there are no simple answers, and being present when listening, I hope to foster solidarity, connectivity and generosity. 

ESALEN: What piece of art or other product that you’ve created makes you most proud?

AY: I know that I have yet to create the work that is the result of my ideal process and inputs. As of now, I am most proud of 20XX, a six-year long series of sculptures (and their resulting images) that contort and amalgamate our shared, built environments, which are embedded with histories of society, building through cycles of demolition and consumption. My advantages and ambivalences within global, public spaces are visually synthesized, and literally located, in my hometown area, the East Bay.

ESALEN: What do you think will be the lasting impact of your residency?

AY: From the perspective of an artist engaged in social analysis, Esalen, like nearly every long-standing institution, especially in the US, must reckon with its legacy and identity which is complicated, layered and multi-faceted.

ESALEN: What does transformation (in the spiritual and emotional sense) mean to you? What brings you joy?

AY: My emotional, behavioral and relationship transformations, characterized by acceptance overtaking fear, are often results of intentional processes that include many challenges and periods of self-doubt. In this context, I can usually envision the goal as greater calm and clarity. 

ESALEN: What kinds of new rituals/practices did the pandemic inspire you to create?

AY: I am currently working to maintain and keep the positive practices developed in the past year: daily cooking and meal prep; taking time to spend with my partner and enjoy a boba break; being generous around time to others and therefore allowing myself that generosity as well.

ESALEN: What explorations will you carry forward that grew out of your residency?

AY: The residency gave me an opportunity to explore multiple facets of my practice — community building, processing of scholarly work, material experimentation, emphasizing social analysis alongside individual healing.

Despite the challenges of coming back into the “real world”, I am trying to hold on to the feeling of expansiveness and opportunity I had when in the Art Barn. I am currently participating in the Summer Residency Program at the School of the Visual Arts and joining the Firehouse Art Collective in Berkeley in an effort to keep and grow the spark that was well-fueled at Esalen.


If you’re interested in the Artist in Residence program, email us: friends@esalen.org

Sculpture by Amy Yoshitsu, Recent Artist in Residence at Esalen
Sculptures by Amy Yoshitsu

Sculpture by Amy Yoshitsu, Recent Artist in Residence at Esalen

Sculpture by Amy Yoshitsu, Recent Artist in Residence at Esalen


“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

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