'Active imagination': Natalie Christensen explores the connection between meditation and photography

by Valentina Ieva
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Natalie Christensen is an emerging contemporary photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States. She launched her photography on Instagram 18 months ago and now has over 22,000 followers.


In addition to pursuing her interests in art and design, Natalie has worked as a psychotherapist for over 25 years and has been particularly influenced by the work of depth psychologist, Carl Jung. This influence is evidenced in her photographs, as shadows and archetypal images are favored subjects.

What are you not dealing with


Active Imagination

This body of work is an exploration of the meditation technique called "active imagination," developed by the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. The process involves translating the contents of one’s unconscious mind into images or stories. Jung linked active imagination with alchemy, as both strive for a transformation to wholeness from fragmented parts. This technique can bridge the personal unconscious with the "collective unconscious"—structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among all humans. These images are an examination of psychological dream symbols, inviting the viewer to consider loss, secrets, loneliness, self-doubt, and woundedness.

 Container of Dreams

Shadow self

Whatever you want me to be

Go Deeper



New Mexico, Deconstructed

This work is a meditation on light, color, and shadow. I live in New Mexico, an area of the United States that has been the muse of many artists, including Georgia O'Keefe, Agnes Martin and Paul Strand, among others. The landscapes have been photographed and painted countless times. I want to show something of this place that is inspired by the color field painters and abstract expressionists, however I have done that by focusing my lens on the the architecture in office parks, shopping centers and other more ordinary parts of my city. I deconstruct these scenes so that distractions pass by and I can find a quiet place. I believe the banality on the surface can be a path to something elemental. As I dismantle my environment, I create space for something that I find more real, more meaningful.  I am trained as a psychotherapist, and I see photography as an extension of that work. Both have called me to explore what is hidden from view, those aspects of self or environment that we may prefer to ignore. I suspect it is our nature to avoid what is unpleasant, but sometimes I get a glimpse of the sublime in these ordinary places. When I find it, it feels like I have discovered gold.

3 Secrets


Dark Core

untitled- Orange and Purple with Clouds



    • Valentina Ieva

      Valentina Ieva


      Bari / Italy

      Laureata in Ingegneria edile-architettura, giornalista per professione, web writer per diletto. Amante di architettura, design, fotografia e libri di carta. Dipendente dai social, Instagram e InstaStories su tutti. Affamata di vita, viaggi e storie da scoprire. Qualunque forma d'arte mi affascina da sempre e non posso pensare una vita senza: emozioni forti, immaginazione, buona musica, cucina pugliese, sole e gatti. Per dirla con le parole di Battiato, non potrei vivere senza: ‘un soffio al)