Archive for the ‘art therapy’ Category

Enlightenment, Part 3

A few interesting discoveries throughout the summer….(personal – feel free to skip)

I am not a religious person, especially when it comes to organized religion of any kind. I may enjoy sitting in a mass for a Holy Day, but that’s more of a sense of comfort than strict belief. I do consider myself spiritual. I had students ask me if I were Christian, and I would answer that I’m human, that I believe there is good in all the world’s religions, and I like to accept those tenets that are good for mankind. My middle school students were not able to handle that answer, but my high schoolers cold grasp what I was saying.

Over the years, the more I read of history the more I got pissed off at religion. Once we realize the Crusades for what they really were – an attack on anything not Christian – we begin to be appalled at the damage Most religions have done. The Inquisition was an vile, horrific attempt to protect the men of the Catholic Church and enforce a way of life that brooked no questioning of any kind. The Troubles in Ireland, the Palestinian question – religion has become politics and politics is now religion. What happened to loving thy neighbor, regardless?

I have been putting my local public library to very good use these days. Since we did our last downsizing, the remaining books are our favoriate, and our art books. It is rare that I buy a book any more…except for what goes on my Kindle. I love standing is a section of the library and just seeing what hits my eye. Two visits ago I discovered a book called Joshua, with a flap that talked about a carpenter who was changing his community. The reviews in the front were excellent – our library puts a sheet for you to score so you have a sense of how people thought about the book. This review was a 10 and said “If only society could be like this.” Based on that recommendation, I picked it up. I finished it that night.

This is an unpretentious story with an extremely [powerful message. Would we recognize Jesus if he walked among us today? It’s written by Neil Girozone, a retired priest (yes, I had my period in the past where I read everything Father Andrew Greeley wrote.) You are lulled into believing Joshua, who has definite ideas on God and His love for His children. Joshua has some stunning conversations – and monologues – about organized religion and how this is NOT what God had in mind for His children. The questioning comes through when the local religious denominations begin to feel threatened by their congregations believing and caring for Joshua. Eventually the case goes all the way to the Pope.

The characters are wonderful – you can see the Biblical parallels, and I for one have met a lot of Catholic priests similar to those in the book. I have been mulling on this since I finished the book. Next trip I picked up Joshua and the Children – his story from the children he teaches to love each other in the midst of a community torn about by religious strife. One can’t help but note the parallels to today’s society – and the book was written in 1985. You can see the conclusion coming, with all the parallels, but this book leaves its promise of success in the mission of the children, whose lives are forever changed.

So all that has gotten me thinking of my place in life right now, in such a tumultuous time. How can I make a difference? Obviously one way is to be kind, listen to those I don’t agree with, enjoy the lives of people I come into contact with. Along with that, I took a master class with Neale Donald Walsch through Mindvalley (Mindvalley.com). This was – dare I say it – life changing. I have a burning desire to read all the Conversations with God books, but none of them are available in my local library, and right now they are too much in the bookstore, even for the Kindle version. Through the master class, Walsch talks about what he calls HEB – highly evolved beings – and he began to describe who and what they are and how we might move along on the evolutionary line to become more evolved. While the class was short, he was able to go through two of the exercises in his 4th book – becoming others and passing each day not for yourself but to make a difference for someone else.

The next day was a day we had several doctor appointments and tests, and as I tried processing his ideas, I realized how far away I am from any kind of HEB – he said himself humanity is only on the two-yard line in evolution and we have a huge way to go. He made me a believer. I was so negative, so impatient, and not recognizing the human being in front of me. This from working at being much more positive in my life. Evidently I am positive when it comes to just me but not when I am am around others. At least I know in my latter decades of teaching I was definitely better at working with my students and their fragile souls…now I have to extend that to all I come into contact with. That was quite the lesson.

Now I am reading (while I wait for Conversations with God) When Everything Changes, Change Everything by Walsch. This is timely, since hubby has open heart surgery in less than two weeks, and life will definitely be changing in both the short and long term. First change – don’t go it alone. I tend to keep to myself and not involve a lot of people in my life, even wen they are good friends. I have come to see that as a result of having to protect myself emotionally while growing up. But I have let a lot of folks know about the surgery, and I realize I can – and will -0 ask for help along the 12-weeks of recovery.

In a nutshell, this is more of the Enlightenment journey since this summer. It doesn’t even include all the science I have been reading – more on that in another post.

Threads of Resistance Entry Finished

I spent a lot of time just coming up with an idea I felt would work, and then some of the time spent rehabbing my knee by walking the halls helped it come more into focus. Then once I started, ideas kept coming – what was a month’s project stretched out into two months, with a lot of time writing what would become the messages on the piece. Women’s Work s Never Done – the topic lef me in so many directions, starting with Susan B. Anthony and the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848 as a result of the women’s congress. The complete document can be found in the right-hand pocket of the jeans. Using a Sharpie, I started to painstakingly write in the GRIEVANCES woman had against men at that time…and as I was writing, I realized not a lot had changed. The best part of this piece was traveling back in time to read in full this document and realize how far we still have to march.

Here are the jeans about two-thirds complete with the writing – each letter gone over two-three times to ensure legibility.

I worried about fading and having to re-do the writing – but isn’t that what we women have had to do through the ages? Prove ourselves again and again? Rewrite or own accomplishments so they aren’t forgotten? If the piece fades – any part of it – that’s the story of us as women.

Next came a woman’s required piece of clothing – the apron. I made it reversible – the front is traditional quilt design and somewhat traditional fabrics, and in each of the squares are messages to women – either from my own family or from society. I put a ruffled border on, and written on it is the litany of what women were expected to do: cooking, cleaning, babysitting, housework, laundry, cooking, etc. sex, birthday parties, planning dinners, sex, cooking…..you get the idea.

Click on the next picture – for some reason it isn’t clear….

Then came the apron strings. Not completely happy with how they worked out…but I love the message (original copy is in the left pocket of the jeans: a manifesto by Joyce Stevens from International Women’s Day in 1975.

 

Now the reverse of the apron is more a modern design, with fabrics of the same hue but considerably brighter. On that is written positive messages I have given myself as a daughter of Women’s Liberation.

Next step was the background – actually background and backing – same fabric. I initially thought I would only quilt what would actually show before I began my writing on the front, but I realized why not continue on the back with more “hidden” women from history. So I ended up quilting the whole background. Then came the burying threads – which I don’t normally do, but since the back suddenly became important, I went and did it…..there were a lot…….

I spent a lot of time online looking for missing/unknown/hidden women and I found amazing stories – most I didn’t know – even as a history major. I started out writing every other line, from the middle to top and bottom so everything would remain even.

Then I filled in everything and started on the back.

  I am very pleased that it came together as I had envisioned – learned a lot (I usually do…), but very pleased.

Comments? I’m taking names to continue the back of the quilt with other “hidden” women – send  ’em along!

#WatchPaintDry

The past couple of weeks have seen my activism rise. Phone calls, emails, petitions, talking to other folks to learn about their views, searching out reliable news outlets – and I’m walking in the Women’s March in Montpelier, VT. just three months out of knee surgery – this is too important for me to miss.

But back to art. I am a strong believer in the power of art. On January 8, 2011, there was a mass shooting in the Safeway parking lot in Tucson. Six people died, including a 9-year-old girl, and 13 were wounded, including my Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords. The following week was very difficult; being a teacher means you are a “first responder” at times – Monday morning after the shooting, Wednesday when President Obama came to town for a memorial, and Friday when the Westboro Baptist Church threatened to boycott funerals. Try explaining to teenagers whose brains emotionally are not fully developed that responding to the hate of Westboro Baptist Church was not a healthy response. No time to process my own feelings, just to be there for kids who weren’t sure what was happening – and especially since so many of them had already seen violence up close and personal in an urban city.

With that background, I had to create something, so I made a small piece of quiltart that spoke to my feelings. The piece made itself…from the choice of background (chicken-wire for fencing) to the words printed on cotton. The local newspaper did a brief story, and in Arizona (as in many places now) the trolls came out and said “If only I’d been around to give Hitler a quilt, everything would have been better.” Others reacted to my premise: that words have power; a woman from Australia said the words weren’t the cause, the man was mentally ill. Yes, no question the shooter was mentally ill, and no help from a broken system (thank you Ronald Reagan)….but words can push a person over the edge, even in the best of times.

My original post is here. I just reread it – raw writing for me. Here is the piece – 8.5 x 11 inches.

Binding looks like bullet holes, as does the stitching around the holes. People objected to the words, felt they were inflammatory for someone who was mentally ill. This was after Sarah Palin had a page on her website with a gun sight right over Arizona and Giffords’ district. I believed then that words caused this man to lash out, that words triggered his mental illness to another step.

We see just how far we have come 5 years and 11 days later. We don’t even talk about mental illness, nothing happens at the state or federal level, the body count keeps growing, and we are entering dark days. Hard to believe we are only now recognizing the words of the past months as hate speech, as power, as darkness.

I will keep speaking out through my art. Predominantly I am working with environmental statements concerning climate change. My Wetlands piece is the first attempt to look at a vanishing resource. there are so many issues and problems ahead for us. As artists we must be active.

I welcome comments.

 

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