Olena Provencher

Sep 19, 2022

Mandala of Individuation: An Integral Jungian Reinterpretation of Art History

A Discussion with Olena Provencher

New Books Network 2022

In this podcast, we meet Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness Ph.D. Olena Provencher, who shares her journey from Russia to the USA and eventually being called to CIIS to pursue her unique vision to reinterpret her training in art history through a Jungian archetypal depth psychological lens. Olena is a painter and evolutionary thinker and describes her insights into how the Jungian notion of the mandala can help us reimagine artistic symbology through an integral psychological and philosophical framework. We discuss the philosophical lineage of Carl Jung and how Jung’s later thought helped Olena activate a change of vision in approaching art history through an archetypal vision of the structure of the psyche which emphasizes the importance of the integrative point at the center of the mandala representing the transformative potential of human consciousness. Olena then shares examples of her Jungian interpretation of historical artworks and myths according to the mandalic four-point structure, or quaternity, as a skeleton-key of sorts, that opens and illuminates a deeper, archetypal dimension of art, activating individuation and alchemical transformation. The conversation ends by discussing the place and role of art in the 21st century and discusses how art can help overturn the dominant paradigm of capital consumption. We speculate upon the future of art and how one can re-enchant our postmodern Western view of art, re-envisioning art as an integral vision of the human Soul, radically open to the infinite.

Olena (Olga) Provencher is a teacher, philosopher, depth psychologist, art history scholar, and artist. Born in Moscow, Russia, in 1967, Olena studied at the Moscow State Pedagogical University with a double major in painting and art history. In her Master’s thesis, she explored the idea of the mandala as the archetypal structure at the foundation of ancient artworks. After graduation, she worked as a senior lecturer at the Moscow Academy of teachers’ training and retraining and a middle school art teacher, while studying Russian philosophy and sophiology in the Academy’s Candidate of Science program until her immigration to the United States in 1999. She received her Master’s in philosophy from the University of North Florida, and a doctorate in philosophy and religion, with a concentration in philosophy, cosmology, and consciousness from the California Institute of Integral Studies. In her ongoing academic research, she works at the crossfield of art history and Jungian (Analytical) psychology. As a way to serve the community, she gives consultations as a Jungian Life coach. Olena lives in San Francisco, CA with her husband and younger son.

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Produced, Edited and Mixed by: Jonathan Kay

Music end of episode: Chatur Vyuha (Four Emanations) - Contemporary Raga creation by Jonathan Kay from the album Early Evening Odyssey

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Stephen Julich and Jonathan Kay

Stephen Julich has worked as an adjunct instructor in History and Anthropology at the City College of New York, as a lecturer in Jungian Studies at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and as an adjunct instructor at the California Institute of Integral Studies where he has taught classes on ensouled writing and Western Esotericism.

Jonathan Kay is a professional musician, and is currently a PhD student in the department of East-West Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Debashish Banerji.

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