Socrates’ advice was to “know thyself,” and Michelle Noah is convinced the ancient philosopher was right. The Lake Highlands painter is a student of the Enneagram, and her exhibit, “By the Numbers: An Enneagram Series,” has been extended through Jan. 24 at Richardson’s Eisemann Center.
The Enneagram, an ancient personality typing system popularized in Dallas by Suzanne Stabile, defines 9 individual types. Stabile has written two books helping followers determine where they fit within the framework, and her “Enneagram Journey” podcast with son, Joel, focuses on how to work with family members, business associates and others to build trust, resolve conflict and interact gracefully.
“I was inspired by my adult kids who were speaking the Enneagram language,” laughs Noah. “They’d say, ‘Oh mom, you’re such a 7. And I’d ask, ‘What does that mean?’”
After finishing Stabile’s books and taking her seminar, Noah recognized the 7 within her – enthusiast and adventurer with heaps of energy and optimism. Other types include 1/perfectionist, 2/helper, 3 performer, 4/individualist, 5/investigator, 6/loyalist, 8/challenger and 9/peacemaker. The series includes 30 Enneagram-related paintings and 5 of her other works.
“When I painted the 6, I used an all over pattern with bright colors to represent a planned pattern. Sixes are planners. There is also an intensity that represents an underlying anxiety. About 50% of the population is a 6,” explains Noah. “The 8 is a challenger. The red color represents the intensity and strength of the 8. The bottom indicates the sensitivity of the 8, which doesn’t show at first. The middle looks like a volcano, with lots of energy and intensity. Each one is different and unique, and it’s my interpretation of a personality based on relationships. It’s a visual exploration of the human psyche.”
Visitors, she says, enjoy finding themselves in the series of paintings and guessing the Enneagram of friends and family.
“It’s a conversation piece,” says Noah. “People relate to it. People say, ‘You need to take the Enneagram test,’ but I don’t think you figure it out that way. I think it’s all about self-reflection – reading and seeing patterns in how you respond.”
Besides the exhibit, Noah has donated and sold several pieces, including one she later saw on television.
“Constance Lindsay, who’s a friend, bought my 3 at a school auction. Later, her sister, Rachel, who was The Bachelorette, sent me a Facebook message asking if the paintings were for sale. I thought she was kidding. She sent the money by Venmo, and I shipped the 8 painting to her. The other day I saw it in the background during her piece on ‘Extra.’”
Noah spends about 30 hours a week painting in a studio she rents in downtown Garland. She doesn’t have electronics or a WiFi connection – she lets pure creativity take over.
“I’ve been a mom, and this is my second act,” says Noah.
Noah’s paintings are in the Forrest and Virginia Green Mezzanine of the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive at 75 and Galatyn Parkway. Entrance is free Monday-Friday from noon-5 and weekends before shows. The exhibit closes Jan. 24. The Enneagram Journey podcast episode which features Noah is available here.