INTERVIEW WITH LIZ HOWARD
Whoever has been lucky enough to see Liz Howard in action on the stage or in one of her workshops as I have, will know that she brings enormous emotional energy to everything she does. Her spontaneity is as inspirational as her voice. She thinks with her heart. Intellect and feeling played an equally important role in OUBEYs creative process and music is an art form that can consummately combine these two strands and it was for these reasons that two years ago Dagmar Woyde-Koehler invited the mezzo-soprano Liz Howard to encounter one of OUBEYs paintings.
Naturally a written text can’t do proper justice to the sheer emotionality and direct experience of such an encounter. Yet the emotional perspective on art is important enough to deserve its own separate space in this collection.
Liz Howard, who are you and what are you doing?
LIZ HOWARD: Who am I and what am I doing in this world? I consider myself a sound healer. I think I’ve been put on this earth to motivate people through music, through sound, so that they can learn to accept themselves better. Accept their bodies, accept their voices, accept who they are.
I do it through music and I love it. It’s the best thing that I can do. I’m a passionate singer. I love singing Gospel, I love a little bit of jazz. Yes, that’s who I am. When I die that’s how I want to be remembered, that I was just able to motivate another soul through the art of music.
You are an artist – you use art in your way to deal with people …
LIZ HOWARD: Exactly.
Art is business as well for you. So, what is your understanding of art?
LIZ HOWARD: Art has no boundaries. It’s universal. Art has no colors – it’s just there. It exists like the universe exists. Like trees, like water, like the mountains. It’s a wonderful thing. And I believe that if we can all share it we can have a peaceful world – you can look at it, you can hear it, you can do it, you can make it, you can try it, you can create it.
It comes from a place of the soul. Art is another way for me to express love.
How is it related to your passion for working with people?
LIZ HOWARD: Because it’s so profound. When you take people out of the idea of trying to be perfect and you try instead to entice them to be more – to use their creativity and to find their own way of expressing their own art, then you open up brand new doors for a person’s mind and soul and being.
Would you consider everybody an artist?
LIZ HOWARD: Yes. Yes. And yes!
There’s a little artist in all of us. Every single one of us that walks this earth, there’s something there. But a lot of times, either your family, your siblings, your teachers, your professors, your colleagues, somebody tries to take it from you. Somebody, somewhere in your life may perhaps tell you that it’s not good enough and then you stop it. It’s almost like you pack it up in your soul somewhere in a drawer and you never really want to take it out again. But everyone should, you should play with it every now and then.
Since we’re doing this interview for we_magazine, what is your understanding of WE? What does WE mean to you?
LIZ HOWARD: I find WE a really wonderful word to be honest. Just “WE”. It’s not “I, I, I, I” – you know. WE means for me, to share, to rise above and become one.
How does your work, your art contribute to this WE?
LIZ HOWARD: How does my art and my work contribute to WE?
LIZ HOWARD: Well, I would have to say yes. When I work with other people or when I coach other people or tickle the art out of another human being, then it’s no longer “I”, because we do this together. We open these doors together, we open the drawers together and discover what we can find to make life better and what it takes to learn to play.
I think WE fits in there because WE is also global, in other words a universal ... You believe that WE – enabled and empowered by the Internet – is also key to driving change for the better. WE can do it! It’s no longer “I”, is it?
It’s no longer you standing there or me standing here – it’s we who come together, we become connected. So, WE is – how can you say it? It’s almost too complex to explain, isn’t it? You have to see the whole picture, look outside the box, go outside the paradigms.
You contributed to the MINDKISS Project with an encounter1.How do you think MINDKISS relates to your work and to WE? Do you see any relations at all?
LIZ HOWARD: I’m sorry that I never got a chance to meet OUBEY but I’m thrilled that I had a chance to connect with him through the MINDKISS project. I was curious to see what picture was coming. When I saw it I wanted to keep it. I said, “You know, can we keep it here for a few days? Can it just stay here for a few days?” It was in this room and it was just so amazing.
I know some people see OUBEYs art as complex but there’s a little kid in there. Somewhere – this is what I see. And that’s who I would have loved to know, to play with. For me it’s like OUBEY used his art to open new doors and give us the opportunity to peek inside them and use our fantasy to open another door for our creativity. And I think what we have in common is, I try to do exactly that with music. I am trying to inspire people to go to another level. We all have our master degrees, we have our doctorates, we’ve studied. The academic is there, it’s in the mind.
But don’t we need it in our hearts as well?
LIZ HOWARD: That’s what I wanted to say. I was just going to say this. You have to go to another place, you have to – I don’t say you have to, but you should, – we should try to go to another place to find that. And I think with OUBEY I just would have loved playing and exchanging music and his art, his paintings, his drawings. Playing is like a new language, isn’t it? I am sure we would have found this place, our common language.
Just imagine if the whole universe could be like that and everybody could understand it.
What made you participate in MINDKISS?
LIZ HOWARD: Curiosity. I knew Dagmar before and we’d spoken about the project. When she arrived with the painting – I wanted to open it, I wanted to open it so desperately and she made me wait so long. And this white cover was over it (laughing) and I was so excited to see what she had picked for my soul. To open my soul, to open the inside of me, to entice my creativity, to take me to a place that I’d never been before.
And I will tell you the honest truth: I am not an art freak – I know very little about art. Actually I’m ignorant about it. But that’s okay, that’s outside judgments. What I love about Dagmar is she didn’t mind that, she just wanted to see how I felt and how this painting, how this drawing, how this picture made me feel. And that’s what OUBEY, that’s what he did, I believe. I think he put his ego aside and whatever he did, whatever he created, he created it from another space. I think he just let his inspiration completely manifest in his entire body – and that’s what he worked from and that’s what I could see when I saw his work. It just simply amazed me.
And at the very end of the encounter when I said, no, no, no, you can’t take this picture and then I said, you know, I had this feeling that he was somewhere in the universe way high up – somewhere over the rainbow. When Dagmar told me later what the title of the picture was, I was pretty close. It was amazing. He has secret languages in his pictures. You really have to look, you have to look deep. You have to live with these pictures for a while. I think if we all could do that we’d all speak a different language, a language of love.
LIZ HOWARD is a woman of strong passions – as is readily apparent in this interview. It’s her free-reining emotionality that connects her to OUBEY. Her highly emotional approach to the paintings is miles away from the intellectual analysis and interpretation which typifies most approaches to art. In a totally unique and compelling way, she represents that “Principle of Immediacy” which was so dear to OUBEY in his artistic creation. Emotionality in the spontaneous, unfiltered encounter holds the key to art for her – in both painting and song. It gives an incredible sense of freedom which is precisely the sense that animates OUBEYs art. She is the consummate model of a self-confident individual who takes art as a means for furthering the discovery of the self.
In September 2012 her new coaching book will be published: Als Eva noch mit Äpfeln warf – Soulfood für Frauen, Kösel Verlag