This time, the piece started with a poem and as the poem took shape the image of a moon and two lovers bathed in moonlight, carried by sea of stars, eventually accompanied the words. As I sketched, I enjoyed the way the glowing moon in this piece seemed to compliment the radiant sun in my piece, “Heal and Thrive.”Read More
I created this piece for those of us who are familiar with the depths of our own darkness.
That darkness can include depression, anxiety, isolation, grief and so much more, depending on each of our own unique experiences.
This piece is also for those of us who are choosing to reckon with our shadow, part of that darkness.
Our shadow includes our own violence, the ways we hurt those around us and ourselves. My own shadow self has been on my mind a lot these past few months as I choose to face the ways I hurt others and myself, a very dark and harrowing endeavor.
I have found that the violent parts of myself are most often revealed in the intimate relationships in my life where I am free to be whole, vulnerably and some times terrifyingly whole.
This piece is a testament to my own journey of reckoning with the depths of that darkness.
It is also a statement of hope that has emerged from the darkness in my own life.
In my art, my intention is to focus on those most marginalized parts of ourselves as well as center those people most marginalized in our communities.
I believe that the darkness present within each of us is at the root of the marginalization and injustice in our society. Our personal violence, I have found, is deeply interconnected with the violence we perpetuate in our families, communities and world.
It seems that facing the darkness in ourselves and our society can overwhelm us or it can empower us to engage healing and growth, a sort of cross roads.
This piece is about choosing to engage healing and growth and the life born from these gifts.
I particularly enjoy the combination of the words survive and thrive in this piece.
The word heal is also intentionally at the center, the bridge between the choice to survive and the opportunity to thrive.
And when I say “I owe it to myself,” I mean that I had to choose to live and heal and grow, a choice made out of love for myself and maybe one of the harder decisions I have had to make over and over again in my life.
The original sketch I made of this piece started with the sun. I loved the idea of painting such a vibrant, color filled sun, full of warmth. And as I reflected on the light and warmth of the sun, I reviewed the writing in my journal from the past few months and found repeated themes of darkness.
I started thinking about the contrast between light and dark and the deep interconnection of the two in the journey towards emotional health.
And I recalled a painting that I made for a friend a few years ago that also included themes of light and dark. In that piece, I choose to represent the emergence of light through darkness with persons being carried through the dark by the collective power of a million stars. And I started sketching those persons again in this piece being carried through the darkness by stars toward the sun.
I also recently finished reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, which coincidentally has a painting of Icarus on the cover. The Body Keeps the Score is all about trauma and how trauma lives in the body.
One important element of the book is about how healing trauma is an incredibly complex balance between drawing closer to the memories of trauma in order to engage healing and yet not pushing too close to those memories, which could risk re-traumatization. That delicate balance is one I know personally and resonates with my own experience of healing and growth.
As Bessel Van Der Kolk explains, “The challenge of recovery is to reestablish ownership of your body and your mind-of your self. This means feeling free to know what you know and to feel what you feel without becoming overwhelmed, enraged, ashamed, or collapsed” (The Body Keeps the Score, page 205).
The story of Icarus thus becomes one way of interpreting that delicate balance, the sun, a representation of the feelings and memories that can hold the key to our own healing and at the same time the threat of destruction. This reflection is a needed reminder for me of how delicate the healing process is and how gentle and compassionate we need to be with ourselves and others in that journey.
The shadowed figures being carried by stars toward the sun in this piece are a representation of that delicate balance and the process of healing.
Toni Morrison once said, “Once you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”
This piece was created with that intention in mind. I know how empowering and liberating my own healing process has been and am interested in sharing that light and life and growth with others. “Heal and Thrive” is a step in that direction.
I have a complicated relationship with flowers.
It’s complicated like my relationship with sweets, comedies, and romance.
The common denominator is that for most of my life I have overlooked, distrusted and even disliked many of these parts of life that are simply meant to bring us pleasure. As a result, I have learned that I have a lot of healing to do when it comes to enjoying life and feeling pleasure.
As many of my friends can attest, I almost never finished my Halloween candy as a kid, would choose a depressing documentary over a comedy any day (still true) and encouraged romance in everyone’s life but my own. Needless to say, I have often struggled to let down my own defenses enough to enjoy even the simplest pleasures.
Thankfully, though with much effort and a lot of help, I have learned to enjoy sweets, comedies and even romance. I have learned and am still learning to be less hard on myself and to enjoy certain activities just for fun.
Flowers are next on my list.
I have told my partner on more than one occasion that I don't really like flowers. Yet as I listened to myself discount flowers over and over again, I eventually could not help but wonder why and chose to take a hard look in the mirror.
Flowers have taught me a lot about my own need for growth and helped me discover a deep desire for healing.
This piece is a part of that process.
As is often how my art unfolds, the words came first in this piece. The short poem at the center of this watercolor speaks to the consolation that comes from the big (and small) decisions we make every day that honor who we are, where we have come from and how we desire to grow; the decisions that open us to the love that we deserve and affirm the life path that we are choosing for ourselves.
Most days discovering what I desire and making decisions based on what I want has been a challenge; so when, despite my fear and anxiety, I am able to make those decisions anyways, it “feels like a triumph, a victory, the most complete love letter my heart could ever receive.”
And when discerning an image to accompany that feeling, I settled on my own hands immersed in a field of flowers, soaking in the joy and pleasure of the beauty we share.
Unsurprisingly, I felt conflicted about painting flowers; I wanted something stronger, darker, and more dependable. I almost painted the moon in a dark night sky.
But flowers seemed to better represent my struggles with vulnerability, pleasure, and healing, themes at the heart of the words in this piece.
I have also learned that these struggles are common to the journeys of many of my dear friends and loved ones. This piece is also for them. I am inspired daily by the courage of those who are choosing to share themselves more fully despite paralyzing fear and the realities of isolation, discrimination and hate.
I imagine not everybody feels as conflicted about flowers as I do, but there might be other parts of life that folks struggle to embrace, other elements of joy and pleasure that folks struggle to let into their lives. This piece is about choosing to lean into those parts of our life that affirm our dignity and remind us to love and care for ourselves.
My intention in this piece is to create a reminder for myself, and for each of us, that the challenging process of healing is worth it and that the life we are empowered to choose for ourselves through healing is the love that our hearts most deserve.
This piece is a testimony to the power of truth-telling and a call to raise our voices in solidarity with those womxn in our communities who are breaking the silence. There is power and beauty in the diversity of our life experiences as womxn and integrating our differences is essential to our collective fight for liberation.Read More
In this piece I intend to focus on those marginalized parts of ourselves, the parts that we are most reluctant to share with others, the roots beneath the soil.
This poem and painting were born out of what I have learned about the healing power of accompaniment, of being witnessed and accompanied in all of who we are.Read More
Beyond our fear, I believe that we are free. We are free to love and embrace difference and diversity. We are free to welcome and include those different from ourselves. We are free to unlearn our own violence and participation in systems of oppression and free to learn from different perspectives.Read More
In many ways, this piece is meant to be a reminder of that lesson and the need for self-love and compassion. I need that reminder every single day. And I trust that I am not alone.Read More
I hope this piece can serve as one attempt to visualize the expressed needs of folks with disabilities, a call to action to those of us who are able-bodied and do not live with a disability, to grow in solidarity with those who do.Read More
The Zapatistas remind us that those most marginalized among us have so much to teach us.
Those who have suffered most, who have chosen healing and resistance to systems of oppression are the wise visionaries among us, if only we could learn to listen.Read More
I believe in the power of this image to celebrate the courage of women and men like Ligons, Hill and Crump and to inspire important questions about abuse, oppression, marginalization, courage and justice in our own lives and our own communities.Read More
This second piece with Doña Máxima’s words (translated into English), “I am poor and illiterate but I know that our lake and the mountains are our real treasure and I will fight so that… they are not destroyed,” speak to the clarity in her vision and the resilience in her spirit.Read More
I first heard the full story of Doña Máxima Acuña an indigenous woman from the Peruvian Andes, through the documentary “Hija de la Laguna” (Daughter of the Lake). I learned how, since 2011, she has resisted the imposition of a multinational mining company that has repeatedly and violently attempted to remove her from her home. I learned how she committed to protecting the Laguna Azul de Cajamarca, the lake on her land that the mining company would effectively destroy if not for her resistance.Read More
I have been particularly moved by the call to white people to address issues of racism in their own white communities. The “& You Stood With Me III” piece is one attempt at a response to that call.Read More
In this piece I intend to break through outdated constructions of what it means to love our LGBTQI+ friends and family. I intend to challenge the belief that one can “love the sinner but reject the sin,” and instead offer a way of understanding love and solidarity rooted in the expressed needs of LGBTQI+ folks.Read More
In addition to the homeless and hungry among us, I found myself in daily contact with women who needed shelter, inclusion, a listening ear, understanding, empathy, support, and solidarity. I believe we are also called to accompany women who are marginalized and suffering from abuse, sexual assault, discrimination, exclusion and isolation.Read More