by Joey Phoenix
Enter through the red door of the street-level basement studio in Beverly, MA to find a space where healing and community live side by side, a place with art-based workshops, reiki, and one-on-one healing sessions can all happen in a warm and safe space.
What is this place? It’s called The Ladies Entrance, a holistic art studio owned and operated by artist, healer, and mother Carla B. Forte Orr, that helps women connect to their creative center.
“My wish is to provide community, connection, and an opportunity for healing through the arts,” Carla said.
A “Mom Identity Crisis” and the Beginning of The Ladies Entrance
A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Carla has always had a deep love of both art and community, but the path to creating this space was never easy.
After finishing art school, and subsequently rescuing a handpainted sign that said “The Ladies Entrance” from a curb outside where she used to live, Carla moved to Portland, Oregon with her husband and tucked the sign into storage where it would stay for the next eight years.
During the time she spent in Portland she also found herself creating less. It wasn’t until she became pregnant with her daughter that things began to change. She called it her “Mom Identity Crisis,” which was the sort of crisis that made her question her artistic abilities and the direction of her life.
“I remember so clearly, the realization that my daughter was never going to know that I was an artist or who I truly was if I didn’t honor myself enough to do what I love the most and what I felt so passionate about.”
As a response to this realization, Carla came out of her creative shell and began asking her friends in Portland to sit for portraits. She wanted to reconnect to her art in a space that was without pressure or judgment, and during this process, she learned something critical about herself.
“I learned that in a similar way that Reiki practitioners have energy move through their hands and out towards the client they are working with, I have energy move through me and out my hands and then I ‘draw’ it out, literally,” Carla explained.
She started creating more of these energy portraits, which led her to form a connection with Tami Lynn Kent, a women’s health physical therapist who developed Holistic Pelvic CareTM and the author of Wild Feminine.
“[Tami’s work] helped me understand the ways I connected to my own root, and the second chakra, which is the center for creativity, sensuality, and relationships,” Carla said.
Connecting Women and Creativity
Carla moved back to the East Coast in 2011 to settle in Beverly, MA with her family. While she formed bonds with other healers and creative people on the North Shore, she slowly transformed her 1850s era basement space into a public studio and finally hung the rescued Ladies Entrance sign in the window.
“At the Ladies Entrance, I’ve combined my training in Holistic Pelvic Energy and hope to be a resource for women who wish to connect to themselves, to each other, and be in touch with their inherent medicine and wisdom they carry within – their home inside their home.”
In 2013, Carla traveled back to Portland to take another workshop with Tami Lynn Kent called “The Energetics of Creativity,” where she learned more about the pelvic bowl and how individuals contain both masculine and feminine energies.
“My wish is to provide community, connection, and an opportunity for healing through the arts.”Carla B. Forte Orr, The Ladies Entrance
“When we are connected to this creative center, we can be in touch with our own creative flow and know what it is our life needs when we might feel out of balance, stressed, or going through a major life transition.”
The Ladies Entrance offers workshops led by women and for women. The majority of the workshops which happen in this space have some component of nurturing creativity and/or exploring some aspect of feminine energy or the pelvic bowl. Since this is a holistic studio, I have started to also have outside practitioners in the field of women’s wellness with complimentary offerings, including offerings to girls and teens.
“Instead of the Ladies Entrance sign being a marker for the back door of an establishment, I’d like to think of it as the front door: the main entrance, to ourselves.”
Upcoming Workshops and Events at The Ladies Entrance
The Ladies Entrance has an ongoing calendar of events and offerings in addition to Carla’s one on one healing sessions. Some of the ones coming up in March include a Free Come Create Night on the 8th, Pimples & Periods led by Kristin Procter on March 10, Introduction to Yoni Eggs on March 16th by Emily Martel, a Watercolor Wreath workshop on the 22nd, and What Fills Your Cup for Mothers – which includes information on how to form a babysitting cooperative – on March 29.
“These workshops are for women, mothers, and pregnant women. Some are specifically for pregnant women with our Belly Bowl workshops.
“The majority of our workshops have some component of nurturing creativity and/or exploring some aspect of feminine energy or the pelvic bowl.”
In addition to these workshops, Carla is also excited about having a show of her own artwork next year at the Beverly Public Library, which will feature her portrait work.
“I am still in the beginning stages of fleshing out the upcoming exhibit but I am really excited about it. Doing art is my personal medicine.”
Joey Phoenix is a performance artist, pet photographer, and the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore. Follow them on Twitter @jphoenixmedia. If you have an idea for a story, feature, or pictures of adorable llamas, feel free to send them a message at firstname.lastname@example.org