Our well being, and our planet’s, depends on creating our asses off. I’m serious!
We need to bring beauty back. We need to honor the spontaneous expression of wonder and surprise. We need to remember what makes us hummmmmm, what makes us humane. We need to remember and commune with that mysterious source within called Soul, God, muse, mystery. It is connecting with that source that allows us to embrace living and enables us to thrive in dire circumstances.
Writing by Terry Tempest Williams always grabs me. Recently in YES magazine, Nov 21, 2013 in an interview with Devon Frederickson, she said this: When we were working in the village of Rugerero with Rwandan women who had lost everything from war, I saw a light in their eyes return when their children began picking up paintbrushes and painting the walls of their homes. Joy entered in. Creativity ignited a spark. In that moment, I saw that art is not peripheral, beauty is not optional, but a strategy for survival.
I first recognized art as a strategy for survival when I stood before the drawings done by ordinary people in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bomb exploding over Hiroshima. They used any scrap of paper, including toilet paper, to record the death and destruction they witnessed: corpses piled up at a well with arms still reaching for water; business men dead in their seats as they rode a bus to work; shadows of the vaporized recorded on the sidewalk, a form of graffiti I’ll vividly remember for the rest of my life.
I find that my art and my wholeness are inextricable. And Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studio keeps revealing more of that bond for me. TODAY, about forty of us embarked on her latest online course called Painting the Feminine.
This is a journaling class and I have not journaled regularly in many, many years. I have trip journals from pilgrimages taken in the 2000’s and an occasional dream recorded, but that era of discovering personal truth by journaling has passed. So I entered this class with a ho hum attitude. That didn’t last for long!
Using the blank pages in my journal from the trip taken to see the Spirit Bear in BC back in 2002, I began by making a title page midway through the book and deciding to work in oil pastels and colored pencil rather than paint. Connie’s suggestion was to take a word that grabbed us from a list she’d made of feminine qualities and paint it, intuitively, spontaneously w/o forethought.
I surprised myself with my word choice: “eccentric”. But didn’t question the choice and responded by smearing oil pastel all over the pages. Abstract energetic stuff began emerging in the upper right and I could feel my entire body engaging in spontaneous line and color. Loving it loving it. Then I felt, rather than saw, the curve of a feminine head, my head bowing before the unknown honoring the void and its life affirming wisdom. The whole experience delighted me.
This experience affirms my eccentricity for having always been willing to follow my soul’s passions no matter the risks. I’d never considered that a feminine trait before. I always labeled my choices as being stupid by modernintellecturalupstandingproperstandards and obviously financial suicide, all that shitty stuff designed to keep me “in my place,” but I veered off center and did what felt right anyway. I realize now that if my own inner labeling had been more supportive, my path might have been easier.
So this has been a valuable exercise and a reminder of how making art can help us feel whole when life shatters around us.