Jasmine Raskas is a local painter in STL. After her second float, she felt inspired to create a painting. We wondered if she would share her work with us, which she was absolutely willing to do. When Jasmine arrived with her painting, we were delighted to see it and chat about it. We feel grateful to listen to her speak about the ways that floating inspires her to explore metaphysical concepts in painting, and also grateful that floating has helped her physical condition. If you are a person who enjoys exploring abstract concepts and abstract art, or if you struggle with joint misalignment (severe or not), read on!
Jasmine, thank you for bringing your artwork in today. Do you mind if I jump into a few floating-related questions? How did you originally hear about floating?
Well, I have a genetic connective tissue disorder, called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which means all of the tissues in my body are extra elastic. They stretch, but they don’t stretch back, like Laffy Taffy. Things slip out of place, and then I walk around on the misalignment and other things start to hurt. I’ve done pretty much every therapeutic treatment out there.
Gravity is the main root of my problem. Since I can’t declare war on gravity, I hoped that I could find something that would help me solve the problem of how gravity affects my body. I found floating about two years ago, but I had to wait to float because I had a central line. For two years, I was really excited to try it!
Can you talk a little more about what floating is like for you in general?
More than anything, floating is a physical experience for me right now. It helps me realign my joints. It’s the only thing I have come across that really helps me in this area. For instance, I’ll spend a whole hour with a massage therapist who corrects one group of muscles that are not aligned. And that helps. But in the float, my body completely realigns itself in 90 minutes, which would otherwise take, like, years! I’ve been trying to tell everyone with my genetic disorder that they need to float. It’s a huge help, and it’s very natural and effortless. It should be a prescribed treatment.
In general, I spend the first part of my float stretching and helping my joints get back to their natural alignment. And when my body feels good, I spend the remainder of my float exploring my mind, concepts, and the unknown. Yesterday, I had my first double-float. I was able to use the first 90 minutes to get in alignment and the second 90 minutes to explore my mind. I’m really excited to be able to spend more time exploring my mind in the future.
It sounds like even though you found floating for help with your physical condition, it has been interesting to you in other ways.
Yes. I’m trying to learn to find a balance in my life. I know that if I try to do anything too intensely in one way, I can take it so far that I ruin the point of why I am doing it. So, I try to do more than one thing. I focus on things, but I also “zoom out” to stay in touch with the overall big picture, the larger purpose. I do that in my floats and my painting. I try to “zoom out” and “zoom in.” Knowing which to do comes from listening to my intuition, I guess, or some sixth sense. Maybe that’s the spiritual-ness that I’m trying to be in touch with. Floating and painting feel spiritual to me in that way.
Can you talk a little bit more about how your floating and painting processes are related for you?
Floating connects me to my mind’s natural instinct, which is to simply exist and be in space. I think that is what we’re here to do as people who are alive. So many people walk around living in the past or in the future, and floating is a great place to ground yourself back into the now. I experience being right here, right now in my floats, and I also like to explore this type of idea in my painting.
Another way they are related is that when I address a problem, I try to get the root of the problem so I can address it at its core. When I wanted to address my genetic condition at it’s core, I found floating along the way. My paintings also reflect this idea of getting to the root of things. They are very genuine. They help me see myself. I want my art to be personal, to be my mirror. But I want it to be vague enough so it can be anybody’s mirror. And I think that is true of floating too. Floating helps me see myself. It’s a personal mirror, but it’s a mirror for everyone. It kind of reminds me of the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter, the mirror that you look into and see yourself experiencing your heart’s deepest desire. Maybe painting and floating are not your deepest desires, but maybe they can reflect a deep and significant part of you. I want people to look in to my work and find that deep part of them.
This is the first time you have created an art piece based on your floating experience. I’m curious to learn more about what that was like for you. What parts of your floating experience inspired you?
Well, I don’t usually use black paint. I used it in this painting because I felt inspired by floating in darkness. Sometimes when I float, I see tiny specks of light, which my brain is kind of making up. So I was thinking, this whole painting could be inside that tiny speck. It could expand from that tiny speck and then contract again. In this painting, forms expand and contract.
I also felt inspired by the concepts of surfaces and space, and this is the most I have ever explored those concepts. When you float, you lose touch with your body, so you remove yourself from the physical surfaces and spaces that you’re used to in daily life. When I float, I feel like I am touching a metaphysical surface. So, I guess this painting is also a metaphysical surface. It is a visual representation of the surfaces I touch when I float.
Also, connection, networks, and growth are the biggest things that come up in my art. I want things to look like they could be both cellular and astrological at the same time, like a fractal. The float inspired me to paint because these same concepts came to me while I was floating.
Is there anything I haven’t asked you about floating or painting that you want to share before we finish today?
I really want to figure out a way to make it more accessible and available to people with my genetic condition. Even though I’m a spiritual person and I want to use the floating environment to explore that side of me, floating is more physical for me right now. Once my physical stuff is more contained, then I’d like to explore more of the spiritual effects of floating.
I’m a meditator. And, to me, floating is a tool you can use to meditate. So, in that sense, it feels familiar to me. But, I don’t know, maybe it’s better than meditating. I just don’t know yet because I haven’t floated enough.
We really appreciate your willingness to share your artwork and sharing so many different aspects of you today.
Thank you, Jasmine!