Spending time with Aazam Irilian is like being in a master class. You’re in the presence of both a teacher and a guide, sometimes unaware that she’s taken you on the road to self-discovery.
She has a master’s degree in education with a teaching credential in visual arts, and what’s perhaps most evident about her is her two-pronged tendencies: creating and teaching.
“I’m an artist in my core,” Irilian says. “From the time I can remember, I’ve been creating in a variety of mediums and modalities. It is literally my passion – one that, if not engaged in, I feel the empty space in my heart.”
Learning from Aazam is not just about artwork – it’s about soul work. Among her talents, she paints “Soul Portraits,” which are commissioned paintings she creates for and about a client after consultation and meditation. The personalized artwork uses light, color and imagery to reflect the individual’s “inner wisdom and true spirit,” which the subject can use as a meditation tool and to further develop dreams and goals.
But she is also an educator. She holds an administrative credential and multiple certificates, allowing her to train teachers and support them in a variety of settings, such as developing strong teams and programs that are conducive to support students who are considered at-risk.
Technically, Irilian creates paintings by combining acrylic inks, fabric dyes and oil on canvas. And when she describes that process, it is easy to see how seamless the connection is between creating art and exploring one’s emotional world – both practices she helps others to develop.
“Being an artist is pouring one’s soul onto the canvas, carving it into a stone or molding it into clay,” she says on her website. “It is being able to free the mind to create beauty, to create mysteries and to create long-lasting emotion and passion for the viewer.”
Through one-on-one life coaching and group events and retreats, Irilian’s clients learn to use the arts as a tool to gain insight. One-on-one coaching sessions include authentic conversation incorporating imagery, reflective writing and other creative processes. Her groups combine writing, painting and various forms of self-reflection.
“There is a different dynamic in group work, where people see that ‘they’re not the only one feeling that way,’” Irilian says. “Therefore, connections are formed and bonds are created.”
Three years ago, she launched “heal the heART,” which is her coaching program borne out of a personal crisis, when facing some of life’s losses and transitions.
“My training as an educator and educational coach, and my background in the arts and teaching, are the foundation that I have built on to create heal the heART,” she says. “It is also this foundation that allowed me to use the creative process to heal myself and get myself out of a dark hole of depression.”
Her own experiences as a female give her an added measure of ability to work with women in emotional hardship.
“Women, in my opinion, are the foundation of the society and transmitter of culture and knowledge,” she says. “It is the woman who brings new life to this world. It is the woman who has the power to nurture the mind of the future generation and instill love and caring into their hearts.”
She also points out that it is usually the woman who sets aside her goals, desires and passions to take care of her children and household, and to become the main caregiver with her elders.
“It is also, unfortunately, the woman and her causes that are used for political gain and thrown aside when those in politics take office,” the artist says.
Of course, Irilian also works with men, and with couples, helping them in overcoming life challenges and transitions to find fulfillment.
“The basic structure of support for both genders is the same – men and women deal with similar life challenges – empty nest, career transition, loss, relationship issues, etc. They may deal with situations differently and take different approaches, but pain is pain,” she says. “Although the majority of my clients are women, I’m hoping that men can also open themselves up to take advantage of the healing effects of the heal the heART process.”
Aazam Irilian is holding an all-day heal the heART event called Renew Revive Re-Treat on Sept. 15 at a private estate in Agua Dulce. Described as a day of relaxation, concentration and connection, the journey will include gourmet food and wine, a walking meditation, painting to the hum of singing bowls and other restorative activities. Members of the community are invited to attend, and registration is available on the website healtheheartreatreat.com.
For more information about the artist/life coach, visit AazamIrilian.com.
Martha Michael is a contributing writer for The Signal.