Posts Tagged ‘Art



10
Feb
11

on another note…

We, at the little church at the edge of the city, are using themes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s new book, An Altar in the World—A Geography of Faith, this Lenten season. It has been a bit of a challenge to come up with visual art that communicates the breadth of content in this work in a simple, non-literal manner. The bulletin covers,  altar arrangements and lectern will be our main focal points, since the full sanctuary installation will be done by our host-church congregation. Ours would appear to be a fairly self-contained project, but not so, since we will not be relying on traditional purple, but instead, variations of warm sepia.

Once I had all the art finished for the bulletin covers, I turned my attention to the lectern, which will be consistently visible throughout the whole Lenten season. For the last two days the lectern has been running through my consciousness, like a steady hum from some outside electrical source one wishes to high heaven would stop. It has not stopped and is niggling around in my brain, because next week I will have cataract surgery and don’t know when I will have again reliable vision for artful details. Yesterday, ideas came and vanished as I visited several shops looking for something, but not sure what. I was getting discouraged. My God conversations went like this: “Hey, this is your thing! Help me out…give me an idea…bring it forth…please!”

Then I went home and waited. I was discouraged and began thinking again. Suddenly an idea popped into the camera of my brain: Jewish prayer shawl…homespun…something simple and naturally colored that I could enhance somehow with sacred purple. It was a cold evening and I was not going out again, so I looked through my boxes of fabrics and found a length of burlap. It was a little rough and a rather unpleasant ochre color, but I am resourceful. First thing I did was to soak the whole thing in bleach water. Ninety nine percent of the color remained and so did the smell. What next? Keep the cats out of the laundry room and ponder the situation.

While pondering, I served a rather unsatisfying dinner to my dear partner and myself, then returned to the unsolved problem in the laundry room. The burlap was hanging over the tub looking very unpromising. I decided to wash it with soap in the machine. Not to be wasteful of water, soap and energy, I added all the dark clothes in the laundry hamper as well, and looked ahead to a virtuous conclusion.

While waiting for the washer to finish, a recollection came to me that I’d done this before with a bad outcome, but I pushed it to the side of my head. The sight that greeted me upon opening the washer brought the recollection back again, somewhat more forcefully: the burlap was a tangled mass and the dark clothes were covered with its furry mess. Now what?

Like a mother quickly pulling her babies out of harm’s way, I dumped the whole thing into the dryer along with an anti-static cloth that I was sure (!!) would cause all the mess to leap from the fabrics and into the lint trap. I waited, opening the door a number of times to empty the trap, and saying a little breathy prayer as the recollection loomed larger and larger. I knew I had done this before and I was beginning to realize that the price for dumbness was my road ahead for the rest of the evening. I trimmed and ironed what was left of the burlap, hung it up and prayed that it might turn into something useful by morning. Then I began the laborious task of de-furring socks, T-shirts and pants inside and out with strips of silver tape. I was penitent for not waiting faithfully for God’s inspiring thought—for zooming ahead with me-power. Then I went to bed just a little bit doleful.

This morning I surveyed the scene. All the clothes are hanging nicely in the closet with nary a sign of misdeed and stupidity, but the socks called to me and I had to give them a third silver tape massage. Now everything is out of sight and out of mind, except for that drat burlap still hanging mockingly in the laundry room.

I’ve re-learned my laundry lesson, but there are still a couple more fabric ideas to try. Will wait for noon warmth and maybe try a few other retail sources on my way to the grocery. God knows my every need. It will happen and it will be glorious when it does. In the meantime, I have to confess that artful problem solving is a lovely bit of fun and I do enjoy the hunt. So, God be with me—show me what to pick up and what to put down.

Let not my heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

17
Sep
10

drawing sacred circles

I have several new postings on Drawing Sacred Circles…. http://drawingsacredcircles.wordpress.com /

Take a look and leave a comment if you are so inclined. I really love the comments. Postings on DSC take more time and are fewer than on this one (CbN) because with the arts as central theme, they have more components.  To keep up with my slow progress, you can subscribe to  Sacred Circles in  just the same way as on this blog… by clicking on: Sign me up! under Email Subscription on the right.

I’m looking for guest contributors to Sacred Circles…looking to all of the creative arts, music, drama, poetry, crafts, whatever. You know, life without the arts is like a day without sun or moon. If you have something to contribute to the Sacred Circles blog please let me know.

14
Sep
10

children in time 2

I have quite a fine collection of children’s drawings. I find them all quite amazing, from the most artfully talented to the least, children are just true-blue little people who put the world down in color and line, just as they see it,  feel it and experience it—simple and direct. I plan to post little galleries of  their work on this blog from time to time, starting with Miss Bluebird, who is 8 years old now. This is a drawing she did last winter of things that make her happy. While I agree with Miss B about cats and kittens, I am especially fond of the smile (midway down the page and at the right). Now that makes me totally want to smile back and so I am 🙂

And here is Miss B’s self-portrait. This is the girl who is happy because of cats and kittens, flowers, rainbows, books, cookies, songs and…smiles. You can see how her heart is smiling out at us. Thanks, Miss B.

22
Apr
10

drawing sacred circles

I have a new arts oriented blog site called, Drawing Sacred Circles. This blog, Called by Name will continue to be a personal journal, while the new site will function as an exploration of the ways in which the visual arts (the arts as a whole) spring forth from God’s presence within us—God’s holy knitting together of the parts and pieces of us until we become circles. The art we make as an expression of that knitting together—that integration within that invites oneness with Creator God can serve others in their own becoming process. My fondest wish is for the arts to be integrated into our places of worship as windows  to look through and doors to walk through, if not fly through.

I invite you to join me in this journey. It is not just for artists. It is for everyone who has ever

• looked at a work of art,

• listened to a piece of music,

•heard a poem read,

•watched people moving in dance,

and been transported beyond themselves by the beauty and wholeness of it. There is a page on this new blog dedicated to your thoughts and vision, called Write to Me • This Page is for You. One need not be limited to commenting on specific postings. I hope to meet you there.

16
Feb
10

home again

It has been nearly two weeks since I returned from the Mennonite Arts Weekend in Cincinnati (MAW). I wanted  to write about this  earlier,  but I couldn’t seem to find enough interior space to organize the experience into words and sentences. This was our last trip together, Big Dawg, Adopted Daughter and I. We would not get to retirement at 50. We would not head out together to roam the country, visiting churches in an RV with a big PEACE sign on its side. This trip to Cincinnati would be all of it and none of it. She wanted to come along. We rented a very big van with room for her to lay down all the way and still plenty of room for all the equipment and artwork I had to bring along. A dear old friend (DOF) flew in to go along with us. The trip was a sober reality, not the devil-may-care trip we’d dreamed about.

We arrived early, set up our hotel suite and headed into the weekend’s business on the following day.  AD slept all of that next day. The trip was more tiring for her than she’d expected. We three, BG, DOF and I went on to set up my installation and panel display in  the gallery and the projection equipment in the chapel for my presentation the next day. The hosts of the event were very gracious and helpful, but there were snafus and unexpected problems to be solved, so set-up took a very long time. Anxiety was not completely absent. I had spent two years thinking about my theme of suffering as Sacred Spaces/Common Ground, and six months in actual preparation. All the while working at liturgical installations at our church, keeping house, keeping the blog, maintaining activity in an online Mennonite listserve, mentoring a young woman friend, and then since January, taking on the responsibilities of primary care-giver for AD. I was exhausted and sad…running on empty. This was not what I had expected the MAW weekend to look like. It was to be a celebration, but I did not feel celebratory. Four friends and Darling Daughter came to support and celebrate with us. I could not manage a light heart.

At 9:00 on Saturday morning, I began my presentation:

I chose suffering as my contribution to our theme for this weekend—The Art of Place: Sacred Spaces and Common Ground. Before I plunge into my talk, I want to say that it is a great privilege to take part in this festival of the arts and to be here with you tonight, sharing some of the experiences that have transformed my life. I’d like to thank Hal Hess, Anne Hevener and the committee for inviting me to share my journey with you this weekend.

I concluded with a PowerPoint presentation of a cross-section of my work. It went very well despite the hang-over I felt from too much insomnia sedation  the night before. I see this as God’s grace and myself as messenger. During this past year I seem to have miraculously acquired a skill in reading a prepared text in an intimate, conversational fashion and I cannot account for this. I had hoped to make contacts for my liturgical art, but that didn’t happen. I had lots of positive feedback from lots of people, but it was all centered on my Dying to Live installation…my cancer story.

The rest of the day was a bit of a fog for me as I hadn’t had much sleep and was running on fumes. By afternoon I was a ghost and spent a couple of hours asleep on one of the back, padded pews of the church, while the assembled faithful blended their voices in Mennonite singing. If I haven’t ever mentioned Mennonite singing before, let me do so now: every Mennonite grows up singing and reading and/or playing music. Even the poorest congregation sings beautifully. They are not so up to speed in the liturgical art and dance as worship category, but music is exemplary, so I must have slept very well. I don’t remember ever waking up during those two hours, and when I did wake up, I wished I hadn’t had to do so.

My memory of the event is hazy. I know there were fun times with friends and wonderful events, but I can’t seem to recall them very well. It is as though a veil covers my memory. I felt relief once we arrived home on Monday. My buddy OM came to help us put the seats back in the van and stayed for dinner. Empress Bird joined us at table as well and that was good. Afterward, Ad rested while BD, OM, EB and DOF all played Scrabble. They had a hilarious time and it was good to feel joy and light around me.

The next day AD slept a lot and wasn’t feeling all that well. I found her mood and affect markedly different and didn’t know what to think. As novice care-giver I was concerned. The following day the new strange behavior continued. When the hospice nurse came, she took all the necessary readings and suggested it was time to start oxygen and increase the morphine. So, the oxygen machine arrived and the meds increased, and  AD began to feel better.

Before DOF, who is a former dancer and interplay leader,  left for the airport, she and AD did some hand-dancing together. It was lovely to see Ad’s face light up like a child seeing a robin’s nest of hatchlings for the first time. Small pleasures count big sometimes. After DOF left, we began slowing putting the pieces of our life back together…post Cincinnati… looking toward the next phase of living and loving together. The oxygen machine is a noisy presence, hissing and phewing its life-sustaining presence. We named it Darth Vader! It’s hard to ignore and hard to accept. Morphine is strangely helpful, both for the sufferer and the care-givers. I watch her take it and feel relief as though it were a healthful potion rather than the addictive opiate that it is.

I am waiting for the hospice nurse to arrive. I need to know that stats. My AD doesn’t say much about how she is feeling…doesn’t often know…I rely on the stats and the experienced nurse to tell me. When we’ve reached a new plateau in the dying process it is always a shock to my system, so this time I’m prepared. No more flying around in my head. I know there is a process underway here. The cancer will take over and the morphine will increase and eventually the two will shake hands and my dear friend, AD will go home.

But right now, we still have work to do and lives to live. We are busy…she with dying well and I with helping her to do that as best I can. It is not time for grieving yet. I am so busy keeping lots of balls in the air and picking them up when they bounce to the floor. Sometimes have to dust them off before tossing them back into my small universe. Dear God, don’t let go of us.

Our nearly twenty old cat, Frank had begun sleeping most of each day with AD. They were a great comfort to each other. This morning at 5:20 a.m. he  was in a lot of pain. We knew it was time and woke AD to say goodbye. We took him to the Emergency Vet Clinic straight-away. She says he will be waiting for her.

The nurse left. Oxygen has increased from 2 to 2.5; morphine increased by 2.5 ml. Ad is sleeping now and I have to get on with my list for today. I’m glad I had a chance to talk with you.

15
Jan
10

let there be light

This week I see light at the end of my long,  project list tunnel. The major project on this list has been my participation in the biennial Mennonite Arts Weekend (MAW) coming up in Cincinnati on February 5-7. For the past 22 months I have been thinking about this in the back of my brain, and for the past  4 months working on it, front and center. The theme of the event is, The Art of Place: Sacred Spaces and Common Ground. My talk will focus on  suffering as both sacred space and common ground. This will be  followed up with  a Power Point presentation of some of my work. I had never done Power Point—hadn’t even installed it on my computer, so I had to install and learn.  Adopted Daughter helped me. (Not only is she a banker with thief-stopping knowledge of the world of credit, but she’s good at installing and walking me through PP!)

My presentation will be a total of 70 minutes. In the gallery I will have a four-panel installation of my cancer odyssey, Dying to Live, suspended from the ceiling—creating a space that will allow people exposure to what it feels like to have cancer. In addition to this I will have a few of my assemblage boxes on display, the handmade book version of Pailoun’s Story,  additional digital montage work—both secular and liturgical, and  Thin Places. If you think that this is a lot of stuff and I must be crazy, you are right. I don’t know what possessed me to cast such a wide net. It just kept growing is all I can say. Once I started putting it all together I realized it’s size. I am one to finish what I start and so I did…pretty much night and day.

This is not all I’ve been doing while this blog got thinner and thinner. As many of you may know, a lot has been going on in the LGBT inclusivity arena as well…painful and arduous experiences which led us to our present church community, where I have thrown myself into providing a stable visual art worship component. This has become a ministry—an outpouring of the gifts I have been given. Also in the mix is this blog which I have so enjoyed writing, AD’s cancer recurrence and my becoming a care provider. I am leaving out many lesser projects and tasks that wove in and out these past months in addition to the aforementioned. It is enough to say that I have learned that multi-tasking is impossible, but serial tasking is not only possible, it’s good medicine for both chem0brain and elderbrain.

So, I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s welcome…like springtime. Life’s rhythms are returning to a normal level of busy with time to even clean house every now and then (ugh!). In 1 week Big Dawg and I will become members of our new church and 10 days after that we will pick up our rented van, pack it full of all the MAW stuff, get in and head out to Cincinnati. The only gray spot in all of this rosy, forward tilt is the reality of AD’s health. Right now, as I write this, she is having a CT scan to determine the state of the state. We live in the now and celebrate it, breathing in and breathing out…

23
Jul
09

30 good minutes

Tomorrow I will be interviewed about my faith journey for a PBS series called 30 Good Minutes.  When I was first approached for this, I was at the apex of my intention to devote all of my spiritual gifts  in the area of the visual arts to the church I was attending. Since that time…seems like ages ago…I have lost that church and am somewhat of an itinerant artist type, having already made a clean break with the secular art world. Never burn bridges, right? I didn’t do the burning. My partner and I were the ones calling the fire department. The church was not interested in receiving the fire department because it didn’t think there was any need. Now it’s a different story. Many wandering, homeless church folk looking for resolution. I am not alone, but really, except for my partner and a few supportive and loving friends, I am alone. I stand before God asking directions when I should be quietly, faithfully waiting. Transition time.

I am wandering and wondering what God will do with all of this mess. Tomorrow I will be interviewed and I no longer am clear as to what sort of artist I am or why. What shall I say? Am I still committed to providing visual art as a doorway to worship? I’ve lost the church and the people. I don’t know where, or if, green shoots will sprout. I have a new church community, but I don’t know if I will regain the passion I once had for this work. I think the muse is asleep…sleeping beauty waiting for the prince…of peace…to come…and plant that kiss of passion and delight.




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