Owner and artist at Moxie Muse Designs finds a way to give back and have fun
Sometimes a person’s life unfolds in a predictable manner–the cheerleader marries the star quarterback. But sometimes, life takes a more circuitous route. Codie Lea is a fan of finding the path not taken and making something memorable along the way. That’s how she came up with the idea for her art studio, Moxie Muse Designs and the paintings that give solace to those that need it.
Lea has always enjoyed working with her hands. She attended art school for sculpture and honed her craft with a year spent in Italy studying the masters. After graduating from the University of New Mexico, she came home to Kansas City, wondering what the next step in the life of a working artist was.
“I didn’t do art for a couple of years after moving back. I had to figure out how to live a stable life so that I could actually afford the art supplies that I used and wanted!” she laughs.
After stints in the restaurant industry, she decided to find her base working with her hands but not in clay, in flesh. Her massage therapy business, Bodywork Bliss and Wellness, has gained a loyal following. She has been practicing massage since 2009 and holds the distinction of being a certified level two Reiki practitioner. She continues to pursue alternative therapies and recently became certified in meridian therapy and reflexology.
This is just one aspect of a busy life, though. Lea’s partner, Mike Pierce, owns Slaps BBQ so she spends some of her time helping him with the business. She also teaches and studies at the School of Metaphysics. She teaches classes in meditation, visualization and deeper knowing of one’s self. These studies seep into her massage therapy as well.
“I have a very holistic approach. I integrate a lot of those same practices–it’s not just a massage. It’s how can I help you heal your life so that I see you when you’re fruitful and happy not just miserable and in pain,” she says.
Although her first passion is sculpture, she has found a new outlet–painting. Space for sculpting, especially large scale projects as Lea is drawn to, is limited. She turned to painting to have an outlet for her creativity.
“I gave myself permission to play. I feel like sometimes when you go to school for something and then get away from it, you’re hard on yourself about everything. Nothing you do is good enough. I had been beating myself up about going to school and then not creating art. I had to stop doing that if I ever wanted to experience joy in creating art again. I had to allow myself to play,” says Lea.
Her mother provided the inspiration to start painting.
“She is really into Native American jewelry and in that art form, even in a completed piece, there is one stone that doesn’t make sense. They purposefully put it there to represent the chaos of life–there is no perfection. There is beauty in the chaos. For me, I saw it as putting something in that seemed like a ‘mistake’. If I approached art from that standpoint, that there was nothing perfect, how freeing would that be? And from that point, I gave myself free reign and that’s when ideas started coming to me,” she says.
And come they did. She sketched. She painted. And then one day, she decided to play with another sense–sound. Trying to capture the vibration of the phrase, ‘I love you’ led her to trying to represent those vibrations as a sound wave.
After reading about a musician that took the heartbeats of children that were diagnosed with terminal illnesses and mixing them with their favorite songs she was struck with her latest project idea. He created a soundtrack for parents to cherish. She could create the visual representation of heartbeats in paint and canvas.
She started simply–she asked for five people that would want a heartbeat painted for them at no cost. She honed her style and knew that she had found an incredibly special way to connect parents and their children.
“More than anything, I wanted to be able to give them to people who had lost a child or may lose a child. Of course, I would like to sell them as well but to me, that’s a great gift to be able to give someone. It seems ridiculous to charge for something so personal. Having never experienced pregnancy, I had no way of understanding the impact of doing something like this for a parent that had had a stillborn child. You change your whole life in anticipation of these miracles and then they don’t come to you–it’s heartbreaking,” says Lea.
Thus Moxie Muse Designs was born. Lea takes a sonogram image of a heartbeat and sketches it out, creating the peaks and valleys that define that life and making them glow in color. For regular soundwaves, she records a phrase, such as ‘I love you’ or ‘Be brave, little one’ and then analyzes it on a computer, printing it out and using it as a roadmap for the painting. Her work is now available for order on Etsy and on MoxieMuseDesign.com. While she still donates the heartbeat paintings for those that have lost a child, she also creates them for clients as gifts, nursery art or just a piece based on a favorite phrase or song.
The heartbeat and soundwave paintings were the door through which Lea allowed herself to dance and find creative freedom on the other side. Since then, she has been asked to create large scale paintings for the Village Square in Kansas City, Ks as well as showing her heartbeat and soundwaves on KC Live! and having featured work at The Wellness Wheel. For a Gladstone resident that once thought she had lost the joy of creation, she is now in her element, healing bodies and mending hearts through her natural talents and determination to make a difference.