White, Woman and Wokeness

I recently posted a new painting of mine (on a Facebook artist group) of a woman whose face is melting/disintegrating in anguish. At least that’s what I hope is portrayed. The working title is “The Moment Of White Privilege Wokeness.” It is a portrait of a mostly well-to-do-white woman coming to terms with white privilege. Although not well-to-do, I live a comfortable life and include myself in this disturbing painting which is my first since the murder of George Floyd. I was unable to paint or comment for weeks after this horrific event and all the ugliness it represents and has cracked open.

There is confusion, sadness, struggle, discomfort, pain and so much more on this topic. As an artist, I feel an obligation to allow all of this to flow through my work. I am not preaching, simply following the footsteps of many an artist whose creativity reflected the good and the ill in society. I posted the painting and opened it up to my artist peers’ critique for examination.

There was a landslide of emotional and international responses to my painting by artists in the group and comments not limited to Mr. Floyd’s murder, but to the whole of white privilege, artistic expression, past vs present, injustice and enslavement of other people globally etc. The discussion got intense but was mostly respectful (and is still ongoing). One comment in particular ignited a gush of responses/reactions. It opened up an opportunity for sensitive conversation and my own thoughts put into words.

The original post/painting (below) included my post:

“I’m feeling very emotional and confused about my artwork and how to respond to the political climate in the US and my own participation in “white privilege.” This is my first painting since the murder of George Floyd and the growing awareness of the intrinsic structural racism in all our institutions. I am struggling with this as an artist and as a human.”

The Moment Of White Privilege Wokeness; Oil on board; 14″ x 18”

The artist comment that sparked sparks:

 “Don’t know what George Floyd has got to do with you painting”

This got number of other artist’s blood boiling, defending and explaining my work for me, and ignited a lengthy discussion-conversation on art and current events. I believe it was/is a necessary thoughtful conduit for all of us to vent, support, teach, reach and grow.

 I would like to include my response for the record to the artist’s question/statement: “Don’t know what George Floyd has got to do with your painting”

“As an artist–I am empathic and try to express what moves me and through me. I question my artwork often to see if it aligns with my life beliefs and life itself. I do not see a difference between my creative process and choices on and/or off the canvas. When a situation occurs that disrupts this process, because it is so hideous and unbelievable–it affects what/how I think is important to express. The fact that George Floyd was brutally “lynched” in the public eye by someone who used his power, given by the people he pledged to protect, in a such a corrupt manner and believed that he would pay no consequences for his actions, harkened back to the Civil Rights movement, the Civil War and the founding of our nation. George Floyd’s death brought this fact into sharper focus than ever before and also laid bare the fact that if there was no video, this policeman would have gotten away with his murder. Black and all people of color have been raging and dying for 400 years, and we (whites) did not listen or act in a manner to make the changes needed to avoid this travesty. I feel that as a comfortable white woman–I have also contributed (although not directly) to this horror. As it has affected my life, as I said above, it affects my artwork. I am just trying to be honest here. It is not up for debate since these are my feelings based on facts. I am sharing among my artist-peers. I am grateful for your comment (name deleted)—I hope this helps clarify why one death affects my creativity.”

Viral Gratitude ~ 4.20.20

A bouquet is defined as an arrangement of flowers. Often given as a gift or carried by a bride on her wedding day, a bouquet has come to signify thoughtfulness and beauty in one form or another. Bouquets tender our souls and our spirit and come in all forms and sizes. I would suggest that bouquets also come in any form of kindness or tenderness when flowers are unavailable. 

Yesterday, and on other days when completely isolated, I received phone calls from friends just at the right time when I needed some comfort. Their voices carried caring, solace and laughter—bouquets of kindness. I would posit that holding a hand, hugs, smiles, a soft or strong shoulder, a listening ear, and withholding judgement to name a few are also gifts of bouquets during difficult times. 

Last night I received via text, a photo of a few wood violets with the words: “This reminded me of you.” A very simple and thoughtful bouquet that lifted my spirit and quelled loneliness.

There are heroes on the front lines in hospitals and behind cash registers in grocery stores and others delivering mail etc. who are deservedly getting accolades and attention for their service and sense of responsibility. However, it’s easy to forget at such a dramatic and chaotic time, that small bouquets of concern and virtual hand-holding can and do ripple into rivers of kindness and grace for all.

Walking With Depression

I woke up this morning in a full-mode depression after weeks/months of a low-grade turn. I felt so low that I could not think of a single thing to write about today, and far worse, I cared less. The loss of hope, caring and spirit is the gut-sucker here while inspiration or lack ideas, words or images is secondary and merely a symptom. I had thought that the remedy needed was a get-away artist retreat or residency for a few weeks or even a short day-trip, otherwise tagged as an artist’s date (by the wise Julia Cameron), or simple break in routine. All of which are luxuries that do indeed help, but in the long run–luxuries do not fully replace daily nourishment or modest natural joy.

So I sat at the edge of my bed and uncorked the valve of tears and let them flow, and in doing so, I also decided that I cannot ignore or cleanly push Depression off to the side. I need to address and walk with her, Depression, and just let her be for what she is, despite the fact that I don’t even know what she is or why she visits. She simply takes up some of my time, space and energy. With that surrender and the tears came enough release and the recognition that we have to walk side-by-side sometimes, I was able to reset and begin a functioning and even noteworthy day. I noticed the underside of the half moon and its very real roundness, and began to note other small graces. I emerged from this darker side, and while driving, started to thank my team of Angels and Guides. I asked for a sign–calling it a gift for the first time to show me a bit of the magic in my life. Just as I was finishing the thought, a car turned quickly into my lane in front of me, and its license plate held My INITIALS ALL IN CAPS (yes as license plates are want to do). I smiled broadly and took this trivial delight as the sign/gift I asked for. I have not seen my initials on a car plate in decades, and since it’s all about timing–I felt blessed and gifted. I also began to tap into Inspiration, another of many walking archetype partners that I engage with. I had lost sight of her, Inspiration, this morning and now she is back. And though Inspiration is far more companionable than Depression or Grief, we all walk together taking turns to share and navigate the trail that is life and the artist’s way.

~

mubblefubble–walking depression into poetry

Chaos as Recovery

Let Chaos Be

A palimpsest on Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon

(Palimpsest: a manuscript or piece of writing on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain; using the bones of the original writing as the basis and springboard for the new piece).

 

Let tongues wag 140
characters on Twitter feeds,
#hashtag words rife knife.

Let emotions loose
like mice in a field with summer
on their feet. Let chaos be.

Let red and blue placards sprout
from neighbors’ lawns. Let fake news
rupture the resounding silence.

Let traffic snarl. Let road rage.
Let the hurricane rip down Main Street.
Let chaos be.

To the microphones on podiums,
to televised debates, to Instagram photos
let chaos be.

Let it be, as it explodes. Fearless.
A cyclone that carries us blessedly beyond our own
front porch, so let chaos be.

Life as art

Fireflies and Fiddleheads

Rain and Rust

 

Between all the self-talk —
fiddleheads
and yearning for a potato chip.

If only I could paint this time
between rain and rust
how would that look?

Once I was a river wild,
whiskey notes, and
summer squalls bending light.

The day you asked
I could not explain
in search of some moment.

Despite all the doubts
it was worth the while
it takes to see fireflies

In the words you whispered,
wearing my wounds,
and the distance of blue.

AG ~ May 2016

A Sunday Stoll In The Rain

 

“You Are Loved”

Tucked into a sunny yellow pitcher-vase filled with fern, dainty caramel-colored roses, daisy-like chrysanthemums with lime green centers and wisps of goldenrod in bud came the simple note:

“You are loved”.

I am blessed for this and more friendship and family love, support  and humor than I can possibly describe. For me, in between all the wonderful pitchers of flowers, poems, painting, dishes and such come periods and visits with depression. I am a person who sees the glass more than half full – someone who is filled with wonder at the sighting of acorns and oaks, moss and lichen on winter-wood, early morning dew and waves on the beach, profanity, profundity and poetry – i.e. all of life. And yet, I too can slip into dark periods best explained as close to hiding in a damp shadowy cave. Depression is not a state of mind or mood swing. It’s a physical and painful emotional state when your vitality or life force is ripped away, and all hope and humor disappears. You lose control of an objective rational approach to problem solving, your literal and figurative appetite and plain living. Sylvia Plath’s bell jar decends and from under its glass your inner and outer vision are distorted. Thankfully my times of depression are not as severe as many others, and I now know that an end is surely in sight. Depression can visit unexpectedly as well as build slowly and steadily. It is fairly common, democratic and browbeats at varying degrees.

I share all of this now, because it goes along with sharing the sun-yellow roses, poetry and paintings. It is life as a tapestry – well worn yet more beloved for its wear and tear and frayed edges.

Wabi-Wabi revisited.

To all my friends and family from my youth through new arrivals on the horizon – thank you always for the flower bouquets coming from your hearts and your compassionate understanding.

~

under-painting with blue brush strokes a tender portrait

IMG_4248

IMG_1854

 

Mindful Writing ~ 2015:15

Space For The Pain.

Funny thing how the heart works.  And how the mind works to “protect” the heart from pain and in doing so – damages at the same time.  We fight against heartbreak even on the most simple levels, and yet in the healing of inevitable heartache, if we allow it, there is a new space – a space for the pain.  Not the searing knife-like spasms of grief, but the more nuanced pangs of loss and letting go.  The mind no longer fights the pain, and thus releases the need for an ever open wound.

“What you resist persists.”   “When you yield you heal.”

That’s what I mean by “space for the pain.”  The pain does not go away completely, however it is like a wise elder who nods with a knowing that it’s all part of the plan.  It’s all for the good.

spaciousness
nature’s window into
a knowing heart

ag ~ 2014

Dark Knight of the Soul

Holiday blues? Feeling rushed, stressed or depressed? I’ve got the drink for you! It warms inside and out and based on the go-to potion of the Mayans who knew a thing or more about the bitter, sweet and spice of life.

It’s a mix of 70% dark chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne pepper! Heat milk (preferably low-fat organic) or almond, hazelnut even coconut milk, stir in the mix and pour into a warm and beautiful earthen-wear mug. It is very rich so a little goes a long way to lift your spirits and boost your energy.

I purchased a bag of this pre-mixed and aptly named “Mayan Hot Drinking Chocolate” from SciasciaConfections.com or 215-996-0606.

I prefer to call this heart-warming drink of the gods – “Dark Knight of the Soul”. Truly a healing balm for the dark nights and cold days.

Fractures

Petals of Light

Ice casts and splints
on tree limbs
shatter yet sparkle
their last light
and melt into snow.

Ison, the comet that hurled
toward our mother star
splinters yet freckles
fragments of light
and melts into sun.

Paper Whites
on a windowsill
flake yet fragrance
petals of light
and melt into breath.

A giving heart
in many a bosom
grieves yet ripens
a healing light 
and melts into moon and the dark of night.

ag ~ December 2013