In a Nutshell
The Ideal Relationship Project is a community-arts initiative aiming to build an ideal reality one portrait at a time!
- Each subject is asked to describe his or her ideal relationship in no more than two sentences and submit an image they would like to see rendered.
- The portraits are portrayed in a uniformed style that incorporates a mandala form, intended to promote mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
- A process note in the form of a video and blog entry is created for each portrait and posted to the project’s website.
In January 2015, I wrote a post on my community blog in which I reviewed a mountain of neurological, sociological, and psychological information, focusing on the battle of the sexes. I was surprised to find most research indicating people want the same things when it comes to long-term relationships. If that’s the case, why do we seem to struggle with finding the love we want?
While chastising me for harboring fanciful ideas about sexually faithful men who’ll hold your hand during sunsets well into old age, a good friend once said to me, “There are only two kinds of men. Those who treat their wives and their mistresses well, and those who don’t. You decide which on turns you on, then you decide which role you want to play.”
“I don’t believe that,” I responded, “There are men who are devoted to their wives.”
“Miserable men who wish they had the balls not to be. Tell me, does your Prince Charming day dream about internet porn?”
My dear friend is not alone in her assessment. Jokes abound about the drudgery of marriage, even as we celebrate #LoveWins. Oscar Wilde once said, “A man who marries his mistress leaves a vacancy in that position.” The Spanish word for “spouse,” esposas, also means “handcuffs.” Why are married women usually heavier? Because single women come home, see what’s in the fridge, and go to bed. Married women come home, see what’s in bed, and go to the fridge.
In light of my own divorce, I realized I had never truly asked myself, “What is your ideal relationship?”
After traveling to my sister’s wedding in India, I found myself falling in love again (i.e. riding that razor’s edge of hopeful wantonness and a debilitating fear of rejection and abandonment). As the relationship developed, the ambiguous misfiring of two people’s needs and expectations arose.
Not wanting to screw it up, I felt I needed to clarify my desires. I had a lot of ideas floating around in my head, but nothing I could succinctly state. No log line or “hot premise” to sell potential suitors. No mantra on which to meditate while holding a rose quartz and praying to the Goddess of love. I found both the content and aesthetics of my artwork taking on a distinctly spiritual and interpersonal nature. I started drawing mandala forms to focus and center myself. I began to think, “If I don’t know precisely how to articulate what I want, than how am I supposed to find it?”
I decided to ask a few friends what their thoughts were. Then I asked a few more friends, after that. And then I asked people I didn’t know. Single people. Married people. Divorced people. Widowed people. People in long-term relationships. People who just broke up. Almost all of them laughed and said, “That’s a hard question to answer.”
“I Know!” I would exclaim. “But why?”
I started writing their thoughts down. Then I started doodling their faces. Doodles turned into sketches. Sketches became portraits. Pretty soon, it became a whole series of portraits. And I realized I had tapped into something. I decided to turn the portraits into a Kickstarter project called, The Ideal Relationship Project.
So far, I’ve completed twenty portraits, and feel no closer to coming up with my own definition. In fact, I have decided to suspend my thoughts on the matter altogether, until I have finished absorbing the opinions of 100 other people. In the mean time, I might suggest taking a moment to ask yourself, what is your ideal relationship?
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, to an Irish Catholic family, Briana MacWilliam MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT has always been surrounded by natural-born storytellers. After graduating with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Illustration and a minor in psychology, she moved to New York City where she earned a Master’s in Professional Studies and Creativity Development from Pratt Institute.
For several years, she has practiced as a licensed and board certified Creative Arts Therapist in various healthcare settings in New York City, working predominantly with traumatized women and addiction. Currently, she is an adjunct writing professor and clinical coordinator at a brain research and diagnostic facility.
Writing, drawing, and painting have always been her passion, and she strongly believes there is no greater magic than the power of the creative process.To learn more, please visit her community blog, Yellow Bricks.