This is one of my favorite pieces of music. It says so much about our integrity and sacredness as human beings. I hope you enjoy it as much as i do. It is definitely on my regular listening
When we work on a painting, we often work from the center or point of focus outward, and when we work on a puzzle, we often work from the outside edges inward. There is no rhyme or reason why we do it, but it is just the way we tend to see things. If you look at the picture above, you are drawn to the center, and if you were to paint it, you would likely start from that point.
As we go through our lives, many things happen to us that start at the outside edges- some absolutely beautiful like making friends and falling in love, and some start at the center, like losing a good friend or loved one who may be lost in some unexplained way. And then there are the horrible things that happen in life – wars, or people with mental problems who hurt others mentally and physically, perhaps even ending their lives. These things affect us both on the outside edges and the center, until no part of the puzzle or painting feels safe.
I guess in my lifetime, I have lived both sides of life. I’ve been through the utmost joy in life – falling in love, bearing children, and working to serve others. And I have been through the horrors of life too. I have had those bad days when I did not believe I had the strength to go on, but life somehow had my back. There was a purpose for me in the long run. Perhaps suicide was an attempt to rid myself of those horrors in life, to reach out and fight them in the only ways I knew how at the time.
But in the end result, despite those things, I have taken the high road. I have served my fellow human beings – women, men and children, all of my life. I taught illiterate and ESL adults how to read; loved, cared for and protected special needs children for 15+ years; and advocated/mentored physically challenged artists with starting their own own art businesses for 20+ years. I have served as a volunteer in one capacity or other since I was 14 years young, and will likely serve through whatever time I have left here.
“We resonate with one another’s sorrows because we are interconnected. Being whole and simultaneously part of a larger whole, we can change the world simply by changing ourselves. If I become a center of love and kindness in this moment, then in a perhaps small but hardly insignificant way, the world now has a nucleus of love and kindness it lacked the moment before. This benefits me and it benefits others.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
This may end up being a series post because it involves the story of a life. It is my hope that this may serve to help anyone who is having difficulty coping with life. It is a true story. It is my story. And I am feel blessed to be able to share it.
I was inspired to write my story when I read a beautiful and touching post by a person whose blog I follow, http://www.3Bones.wordpress.com. Almost everyone in this life goes through some sort of tragedy or issues that can change a life forever. Challenges, no matter what the nature of them can be, are a blessing. The reason they are a blessing is that without them, we might never learn compassion for others, or how to help them when they need it most. We might never experience the beauty of life because life is full of valleys and mountains, sunshine and shadows and darkness. And we might never develop a sort of strength and true understanding of a journey. We might never develop faith in some form, from a belief in a God and a loyalty to that belief, or a sort of spirituality that we recognize in the things, people and places that surround us every day.
And lives – all lives – are sacred in this world. They are here by design – all of them. All forms, all shapes, all colors and names we have made to categorize each of them. They are needed to help the earth and the universe to survive. Even the smallest grain of sand is sacred. It has a special function though it may seem insignificant. Nothing is insignificant in this world.
I want to let you know that this story contains elements of life and death. It contains elements of goodness and love and kindness. And it also contains elements of evil and hatred and the horrible acts that human beings are capable of enacting upon selves and others. This is an opportunity for anyone reading it to perhaps change your thinking about human life on this plane.
The Tin Lady is not only an art doll that I created from found objects. If you look at her carefully, you will see that she is imperfect. Perhaps we can all be both imperfect and sacred a the same time. Most of my art falls into the Wabi Sabi category I have written about in the past; it is an appreciation of the imperfect, the impermanent, and the miracles that can be appreciated in the simplest of things. It serves to remind us that we are all here but a short time in the overall scheme of things, and that life is not a destination, but a journey every day that we live.
So with this brief introduction, the next part of the story will be told in a second post. I do not have a schedule for this. I will write more as I am able to continue. Thank you one and all very kindly for being here.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw – Dramatist (1856 – 1950)
I was thinking about how much fun I have had when I allow myself to play freely as this child is doing. The freedom to explore the world we don’t see everyday, sometimes when it is right in front of us, is a wonderful thing.
I remember when I was turning 65, how I decided to put on some African music I had and begin to dance to it naked in my own home. And then I got the idea to paint my breasts and make prints from them onto cloth. I had no idea what these simple parts of my own body look like from a different perspective and it just seemed a fun way to play. There is nothing strange or silly (well, silly I can live with) about it. It was playing, and discovering, and it was immensely a fun way to celebrate. In the end, the two prints I made – one white and one multi-color, ended up becoming quilts that looked nothing at all like breasts.
I once saw the installations of art by a famous artist who did basically the same thing with parts of his body he said he never saw before. It was amazing, for he had manipulated the images that he got, and nothing was even recognizable as whatever it was originally, but it was immense fun to think about someone to be unafraid to play and to discover whatever there was to find.
It isn’t just the human body with which people are afraid to play and discover. It is things we all take for granted. The cracks in sidewalks, the marks on trees, the forms of all sorts of things out in nature, and perhaps a million other things that we really don’t know at all except from a distance. It isn’t just about playing with toys or playing games that we played as children. It’s about getting to know the world we live in, up close and personal. Have you played lately?
I have long had a special relationship with trees. For me, they are pieces of art in nature, and looking at the photos below, it is difficult to deny. We are also learning new lessons from trees all the time. Scientists have discovered that trees seem to have a way of communicating with each other via their root systems. And some trees are like the most powerful of giants, living through fires, floods, droughts, and many other natural disasters. They provide food and homes for all types of creatures, big and very small. Without them, the earth would surely be a desert, and we might die of overheating without them. We too have cut down and used trees for all sorts of shelters and furnishings and other things that mankind can use for his benefit such as boats. And we have built houses up in the trees. Some have fruits that provide nourishment as others provide sweet sticky syrup for us as humans while still others provide a source of heat in cold areas. At the same time, some trees have sharp thorns all up and down the spines, and still others can have a poison in their systems.
Inspired by visiting trees regularly each day for years with my dogs, I thought of this secret and magical life that trees live and decided to create some of my own, so you will find them too below the live ones.
So here are my art quilts, all of which have been sold to raise money for a charity. I did a whole series with acrylic paints used on the fabric like watercolors, and then stitched to give more texture and life. The first one below is called, “Are You Our Brother?” I loved doing these and “framing” them with upholstery fabric. One of the things I don’t try to do is to create “perfect.” Things come out as they do, and I like that aspect of imperfection. I made seven in all of these quilts, and all of them are 7 x 11 inches. This size is sometimes called a journal quilt, for you can tell bits of your life with them.
I would love it if each of you who follows this blog posts something about something you absolutely LOVE to do, be it making a good pot of spaghetti, painting something that means something to you, or whatever brings Edison in all his brightness he created for us into your heart. I am going to share some of mine here. I am NOT a professional artist in the sense of having a degree of art, and have had very little professional training of any kind. But what I DO know is what I like, and what speaks to my heart. I love fiber art, or art quilts and others too, but I do the art quilts. I love anything unique, and I love things made from nature or from recycled things. And I love urban art and also what I call interactive art. This is art that causes the viewer to need to interact with the art in some manner to perhaps try to figure it out or its message to viewers. And I love to put it everywhere – not just in the house or an exhibit or publication, but anywhere my mind decides would be fun to have some art. So if you are expecting some really polished stuff, you probably should go to a different place. This is stuff that comes from the center of who I am.
My friend, Barbara Williamson and I worked hard to get this book published. It is the culmination of our 10+ years together running a very small, but very successful nonprofit organization called Fiberarts Connection of Southern California. We assisted physically challenged fiber artists with getting exposure for their work, and also helped those who needed it with professional development. A lot of folks don’t realize that when you have a severe physical challenge, you might not be able to get out and about. Even if you have transportation, many facilities and open public areas are not equipped for wheelchairs, and just getting transportation from public sources can be a huge undertaking. Sometimes when you get where you are going, you don’t get the service you really need either. So we tried very hard to cut through some of that as well as creating good exhibits for the artists and for practically free.
Barbara has been a wonderful and inspirational fiber artist, producing some award-winning quilts, being the featured artist in an international exhibit, and having articles written about her. She has long had her own fiber arts business selling her work, and her blog is http://www.threadscapestudio.blogspot.com. And she served as volunteer Secretary for our tiny nonprofit while her caregiver served as our Treasurer. We never has any money but despite that we still managed to get everything we needed done. Enjoy!
The book is available from AmazonKDP.com. Thank you very kindly. We hope that you will read the story of these 23 amazing fiber artists and see their beautiful work. A lot of them are internationally renown for their unique work.