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
“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?
Photo courtesy of Pexels
This is a state of depression or apathy caused by comparing the actual state of the world with an idealized state. – Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
And it is all gone.
How did humanity
survive through the centuries
With so much destruction,
violence and hatred?
We keep learning geography,
spelling and math.
We learn how to write
and how to graph.
But we never seem to learn
how to appreciate
How to be happy
where we are
with what we have,
or what we don’t have,
who we are,
and who we are not.
I remember that my mom had more “mom-isms” than probably most of the moms on my block. If you don’t know what a mom-ism is, your mom probably never had one, but you might ask her what mom-isms her mom or grandma used to use. A mom-ism is when you make a remark, such as “Oh Mom, I can’t.” And your mom replies, “Really? Did you know that there is no such word as ‘can’t’ in the English dictionary?” Or perhaps she might say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Think back on some your mom or grandma might have said. I know some of you have some in the back of your memory. They were intended to have us not give up easily, or perhaps guide us in some other area of life. The quilt that is painted and stitched below is one of my mom’s mom-isms. I would say something like “I just am not sure if I can do it,” or perhaps “Mom, I am afraid to do it,” and she would reply, “Oh, take the bull by the horns.” I have no clue where these mom-isms came from, but they were definitely an important memory in my youth. I will look forward to seeing some of yours. Perhaps you have pop-isms, or grandma or grandpa-isms. And you know, these worked too. Look how worried this huge bull looks compared to the little cowgirl. Have fun remembering!
“Take the Bull by the Horns” by Anne Copeland
This photo is a baby girl named Anne, and it is some 76 years old approximately. Oh how she loved to be read to aloud, or how she loved to “read” her own little books. There were never enough books, and her favorite person to read to her was her Grandma. She was still sitting on the floor next to her Grandma in her rocking chair. And Grandma would tell little Anne stories to capture her memory and to make her days memorable.
I dedicate this story to my friend Jennie, who teaches preschoolers at a private school back East. Her favorite way of teaching is reading aloud to the students, something they all love so much. She combines it with so much creativity. One day, she was asking the children if they wanted to have a new story, and instead of telling one child who was talking a lot, she told the children if they wanted a story to say “Ravioli, Ravioli.” It changed the climate immediately and all the children began to say that.
I am so glad I grew up loving to read. To this day, it is perhaps one of my most wonderful adventures in life. I hope any of you who have children will take the time to read to them as much as possible. Let them pick out books from the library. And teach them to ask in funny ways such as “Ravioli, Ravioli!”
I am not a fashion maven. I do not care for new clothes. New clothes are tabula raza; they have no life story, and for me, that is the most important thing I look for in life. Everything has a story, and if it doesn’t I will make one, but how can you make a story from something that is brand new and has not lived anywhere except on a clothes rack.
I have always loved thrift stores, garage sales, and swap meets of all kinds. There is such a sense of adventure, and what I like especially is that when you go to these types of places, all racial, all political, religious or spiritual or cultural differences seem to disappear. Everyone seems to blend into a wonderful mixture that looks like the clothes in this photo; there is a little of everything. And people sit down at the tables to eat their preferred foods – sometimes things from their own cultures, and sometimes people are just plain adventuresome with what they eat. But the key thing is that they all sit together at the tables, talking often in their native languages, and people doing their best to communicate with others who don’t speak the languages, everyone laughing at the antics of children, or pointing excitedly to a booth that might have extra good items.
And there we all are. One could not paint a more beautiful and sacred photo I believe. there is such a great feeling at the end of our time at these magical events. People are quick to show you their “treasures,” be they the find of heirloom tomatoes, or perhaps a new variety of plant, or a huge watermelon that is going to bring a treat to a big family and friends.
I often use my background in archaeology/anthropology to do a study of a thrift store if I go into a new area, and I can tell so much about the people who live in the area by their “living” artifacts with the stories I mentioned. I can tell if they are primarily seniors who live in the area, business people, or if they are a poor area or an ultra-wealthy one, and I can tell about the children too by the clothes, as well as the cultures represented. And the books and other living artifacts are great clues too. This is such a fun way to spend time discovering history’s mysteries!
I will never be “old” as long as I can find things to have fun with such as these things. I will always be a hippy sort of person in the way I love to think of other people and our society as a whole. The way I choose to dress is sort of a statement about all of that, and I am glad to be who I am because, as the photo says, I have never been this age before, and in one second, I will never be this age again.
So now you have seen Part I, and I want to let you know that I am quite prolific with speaking what is in my heart and the compass of my soul. So Part II will show you some more things I have created, and you might question their designation as “art.” I want you to know that as an artist, I define what is MY art and what it will chose to be at any given time in my life according to how I am envisioning life at that particular time. I like the freedom to celebrate life in the many ways I choose to celebrate it. When I turned 65, I decided to do something different for my special day. I had put on some African music which I liked very much, and I was thinking of how the people paint their bodies to signify something that is very meaningful to them, so I got out some black cloth, and being all alone, stripped and painted my breasts white. I pressed them to the cloth. We know ourselves in one way, or perhaps two, but there are things and ways of ourselves that we have never observed. So when I looked at the cloth I had created, I was, to say the least, surprised, for whoever would ever know that this was what a breast looked like on cloth. Here are a couple of pieces that came from this wonderful experiment in which I learned to see myself in a whole new way. This process never ends, for there is always something new to learn, and as we change over the many years, so do our bodies and minds. Each part becomes a special art exhibit all of its own.
Boobalala by Anne Copeland – Paint and Fiber
“My Garden of Earthly Delights” by Anne – Paint and Fiber
This quilt is about 18″ x 20″ and it features the breast prints in multicolors, which was a lot more fun and challenging than just doing white. And to think, I still have more body parts to color and experiment with. Who knows what this will ultimately lead to. I am certainly not the first person to experiment with painting body parts, but I did this my way and without any lessons either. The frog is painted separately.
Oh, and this was a charity quilt I decided to make for Art for Autism, since I have been very involved for many years with autistic and other special needs children. For those of you who might recoil in horror, there is nothing ugly or wierd about our breasts. I fed all my children with mine, lived through breast cancer, and now that I have passed three quarters of a life (age 77), I am glad to be able to still have those breasts. For me, they are no different than having teeth, hair, armpits, or feet or a backside. Does a tree hide its branches in shame?
So this is Art Exhibit Part II. We will look at some other ideas in different “exhibits” I get to curate and write about. It’s my show. See you at the next one.