Reverend Lainie Love Dalby is not a pop culture goddess by any means. In a time of heightened economic, spiritual and emotional insecurity exacerbated by media-saturation, the Reverend is here to help people “live their best life”—but not in the Oprah sense of the word. The NYC-based urban priestess, who is often referred to as “The Lady Gaga of Consciousness,” aims to help others through ritualistic practices, workshops and her own effervescent presence. OPP interviewed her about her thoughts on pop culture “deities,” and the interconnectedness that social media and the Internet bring to our hyper-networked lives. She advises us on how to reach enlightenment—not through inundation of media images, but rather thorough a spiritual journey of creativity, love and reinvigorating one’s inner life. Dalby has performed at the SCOPE Art Fair in New York, DALBYWorld in Brooklyn, New York's Riverside Church, Cuchifritos Gallery and the Art in Odd Places Performance festival. She holds a BA in architecture from Cornell University. In 2011, she graduated from the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary.
This is the ﬁfth and ﬁnal post in Art Critic & Curator Alicia Eler’s Artists & Social Media Series for the OPP blog.
Alicia Eler for OtherPeoplesPixels: What makes you different than the pop culture deities you emulate?
Reverend Lainie Love Dalby: Quite simply, I am here to be of service to our ailing world. I show up fully in all my work offering my integrity of presence, outrageous creativity and BIG love. I offer any tools and wisdom that I have available to make others’ lives better, harvested from my numerous years of raw personal experience, pain and suffering. I want to make others‘ lives better. Up until 2009, I lived as multiple personas–all constructed within my art practice & life–including an internationally known dominatrix, a celebrity stylist, an avant-garde fashion maven and a pop rapper. I became a shell of myself in moving between these “identity players." I became a full-blown hedonist and fame monster that was totally bankrupt – ﬁnancially, spiritually and emotionally. My life had become devoid of meaning, with a permanent ﬂashing neon sign exclaiming "CLOSED" over my heart. I had lost my personal anchor to what really mattered. I was in a full-blown premature midlife crisis. I wanted to die, straight up. In that moment though, I knew there had to be a better way . . . so I surrendered and began my spiritual journey. I chose in that moment not just to live, but to live fully and to be vibrantly ALIVE, to ﬁnd my truth and to make a difference in the world. I chose to redeﬁne what living meant for me, to not accept life has given and to create my own rules. My decision to let go of my old story was my ﬁrst radical act of self-love and the beginning of my journey to come out of hiding and save my own life as well as countless other lives.
At the end of your life, you're going to ask: Did I live fully alive? Did I LOVE BIG? Did I make a DIFFERENCE in the world? What do you want the answer to be?
AE for OPP: A friend said to me recently: "The Internet is new age-y." I took this to mean that the Internet allows us to be able to connect with others through a more spirit and emotion-based and less physically conﬁning non-space space. What are your thoughts on this? What does spirituality have to do with the Internet—and speciﬁcally with the social web and social networks?
RLLD: The Internet has allowed modern day spirituality, and ancient wisdom as well, to spread in all their numerous forms with greater speed, efficiency and urgency than ever before. It is also helping to end the greatest illusion permeating our lives today: that we are separate, isolated individuals. There is a mass movement to shift the consciousness of humanity, a global awakening towards ONENESS that is occurring via midwives and midhusbands across the planet—transformational leaders who are largely using social media to spread the good word. I am part of this tribe since it is CRUCIAL at this time on our ailing planet. Nearly 20,000 children are dying per day from starvation, gun violence is at an all-time high, over two billion people live in abject poverty on under $1.25 a day, and paintings are being sold for over $76 million dollars. This is money that could be used to feed and educate more than one million children in Africa for a year. If we were to adopt LOVE as our new bottom line, everything would start to shift. I am actually writing an arty book on this topic that will be available soon, and I intend to spread it virally across the Internet via social media. You can ﬁnd out more about it here for now, though: www.loveequalscurrency.com.
Lainie Love Dalby's forthcoming book, Love = Currency
AE for OPP: Your work relies heavily on social media, or the sense of being connected to others through a non-physical presence. Do you feel like social media is more of a promotional venue, or a space for making actual creative work? I am thinking about your Twitter presence and Facebook page?
RLLD: I believe that venues of social media are what you make of them. We will never have the same experience on the computer as being with someone face to face, ﬂesh to ﬂesh in an intimate real-time, real-space connection. But often the latter isn’t necessary to communicate important messages and share creativity]. I believe that offering something of VALUE is the most important aspect to remember when using social media. Promotion comes as a side effect of showing up in the world with something meaningful that will help to change someone’s world. One inspirational sentence or kind word can change the course of a person’s life forever, so it’s crucial to be able to stand 100% behind what you’re putting out in the world via these channels of expression—especially since social media certainly pushes us to create more: more connection, more outreach and more value overall. We have to guard it vigilantly and make sure it’s not virulent crap we’re releasing into the world.
I teach a group course each spring for artists, ministers and outsiders on using social media marketing and branding to get their unique voice out into the world—because I know its importance.
Lainie Love Dalby's Twitter presence @lainielovedalby
AE for OPP: I also noticed that your website TEEMGorgeous.com/LainieLoveDalby.com has a presence on multiple social networks, including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. Tell me a bit about why you decided to exist in so many social media sites?
RLLD: People learn and absorb information differently, so working across multiple platforms of expression and communication allows me to reach a larger audience. Creating a movement, not just making art, requires that you implement as many of the tools as you have available to you at the time. Some people learn best in an immersive context that affects all of their senses—you can see proof of this in my YouTube video of my blessing performances at SCOPE Art Fair this past year—while social media seems more suited for the younger generation that has it born into their blood.
TEEMGorgeous.com is one of my main teachings, and it serves as a multidimensional social sculpture involving installations, art works, self-development adventures and more to generate massive personal and social change. Art is profoundly human by nature, and TEEMGorgeous begins with the premise that every being is an artist in charge of his or her own transformation. Because of this, your greatest masterpiece is creating a life that you would totally love and feel ALIVE in each day in order to TEEMGorgeous in the world. I merely serve as the catalyst for courage, creativity and BIG love in the process. Isn’t it about time that you too took the reins of this delicious idea & began to curate your own life & transformation? Mining the depths of your own human potential? Living fully, laughing heartily and being ﬁred up with intense passions and joy, and following the invisible directions to that radical place where you are "intoxicated by your own rapture."
I believe this to be a powerful message that creates deep value in people’s lives. It also serves as a means for growth and overall happiness, so any way that we can get it out in the world is valid, ergo multiple channels of creative expression via social media. The overall message: Wake up. Reclaim your inner life. Make something out of nothing. Be risky. TEEM Gorgeous. And change the world.
The ARmaTure for Prayer: A Wearable Sculpture of Visible & Potent Global Prayers (post Hurricane IRENE)
12" x 18" Metallic Print (Edition of 3)
Wearable sculpture made from 1000 Origami Cranes with Prayers folded inside
AE for OPP: The Healing Hut for O.P.R.A.H. (Open Prayers, Recommendations & Hugs) makes me think about the power of Oprah, who is clearly a celebrity. I'm thinking about how Oprah positions herself as a pop culture deity, offering up a way for people to discover their true selves. How does this piece subvert the notion of Oprah as an all-loving pop culture deity? Or is this reinforcing Oprah's place in American pop culture?
RLLD: Oprah is one of my (s)heroes, and people have long looked to her work as a place of refuge in an ailing world. I deeply admire her life path and her own powerful journey of self-transformation and effecting change. The title Healing Hut for O.P.R.A.H. (Open Prayer, Recommendation And Hugs) is a tribute to her tireless work and her great importance in the world. The interactive sculpture was the centerpiece for The Diamond Den NY solo show, where I invited participants to crawl into this sacred sculptural artifact so that they could release their suffering, examine themselves, forgive and learn to "live their best life." Almost like a modern day confessional—or like Oprah’s work—it served as a space for solace and refuge.
Sacred memorabilia from 'The Diamond Den NY'
As people continue to move away from church-based communities, they still need the sense of community that churches used to provide. To be tapped into a network of millions of women from across the world is a powerful pull and a necessary home for some. From her magazine to her book club to new programming and #SuperSoulSunday, Oprah offers a powerful way for women (and men) to learn the transformational journeys of other individuals. Overall, she is a fellow midwife shifting the consciousness of humanity, and I am deeply honored to be working alongside her and other incredible women of our time.
Alicia Eler is an art critic and curator whose projects focus on American pop and consumer culture, social networked identities, and the history of queer aesthetics. Her recent reviews examine our modern perception of the natural world. Alicia is currently the Chicago Correspondent for Hyperallergic and Artforum.com, Blogger-in-Residence for the Art21 Blog, Curator for ACRE Projects, Visual Art Researcher for the Chicago Artists’ Resource, and Writer/Editor for the OtherPeoplesPixels.com Blog. Her writing has also been published in Art Papers, RAW Vision Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Flavorpill, ReadWriteWeb and Time Out Chicago. Visit www.aliciaeler.com.