POV

There are many influences in our lives. If you look at how you get your news, what inspires you, what angers you, and what challenges you, you’ll have a clue about what creates your point-of-view. One of the things I’ve been pondering given the state-of-the-world is how permeable is my being. What in the world gets through to my emotional and spiritual self?

There are a number of things that stay ever present for me. I read the posts of people I grew up with and see their Facebook posts and wonder how people who grew up with similar economic backgrounds, cultural and education backgrounds, and geographic influences can grow up to be so diverse. Life experiences once we left our protected hometown influences us and I’m amazed at the diversity that has emerged over the years.

If you watch any talent related, in particular singing, reality shows, you’ll know how important point-of-view is to becoming a success. The agents and producers are looking for what makes each potential “star” unique. The real world is a bit different because inherently we’re all unique. Nature and nurture have permeated our being and paved the road for who we become.

I was watching a broadcast the other day and the moderator encouraged, maybe even challenged each viewer to find someone with an opposing world view and have a conversation. He specifically focused on the word conversation because too often it’s a debate. The goal is to allow differing points-of-view to enter the circle. Given the current political and social climate in the United States that’s a difficult task.

It’s not uncommon for me to go from zero to sixty in my emotional life as I respond (notice I said respond) to a news report or interview. The good thing is that energy moves me to action. The bad thing is that it becomes a reflex and perhaps I should be looking for more constructive ways to resolve issues. I’m not saying opponents to my point-of-view would be willing, evidenced by my congressman’s tweets last night, but when does dialogue enter the picture?

I believe this is why supporting the arts is imperative to the health of our civilization. I don’t have to be antagonistic when I’m representing myself creatively. In the studio, I’m able to release the energy, state my message, and not be invisible. As artists we can give voice to those who feel invisible.

We’re in trying times and having a point-of-view should be cherished. When you scrape away all the crap, the least common denominator is the desire for us to be safe, healthy, and happy. The question is how do we keep returning to the least common denominator and move forward? What will you’re point-of-view add to the conversation?

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Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 38 Perspective

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective over the past week; mainly as it pertains to a quilt I’ve been designing. I’ve been looking at color and proportion, seeing if it all works. On the other hand, I’ve also been thinking about gaining perspective as it relates to world/national events.

Is it possible to have perspective if you are entrenched in a particular point-of-view? How do we uproot ourselves enough to allow perspective to be a player in our worldview? Have you thought about why perspective is important?

I was watching a terrific documentary Get the Picture about photo editor John G Morris. He quotes Robert Capa, an amazing photojournalist who said, “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” I thought this was an interesting quote because he’s talking about perspective. In his case, he is commenting on the impact and newsworthiness of a photo.

Have you ever had someone recommend that you step back and gain some perspective? I have, and I can tell you that statement usually angers me because I feel as if my point-of-view is being negated. I’d much rather someone offers a counter theory/account/knowledge so I can derive my own conclusions.

It’s clear that in the world of politics and religion, perspective is always on the frontlines. It is often the battlefield because we begin to argue dogma instead of personal beliefs, towing the “party” line. Whatever happened to independent thought? Why are we so willing to fall into a trench without critical thinking being part of the equation?

Perspective is something that goes beyond art. It’s something that impacts how we related to one another. Perspective can be our best friend if we allow it to play a part in the equation of our lives!

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 37 Learning

I like school! My mother always promised me that if she won the lottery, I could go to school for the rest of my life. She hasn’t won the lottery, but I’ve done my fair share of school. I enjoy being challenged. I thrive on building a community of like-minded people. I’m hooked on expanding my treasure chest of knowledge.

The interesting thing about learning is it doesn’t have to be done in a formal setting. I was talking to Jeanne, the owner of the local quilt shop where I’ve taught. The last class I was going to teach didn’t have enough enrollments so the class was cancelled. I asked her why she thought the number of people taking classes had declined. She said that with the huge explosion of YouTube, fewer people were leaving their homes when they can find the information online.

I hadn’t thought about the use of YouTube for learning techniques, or hearing interviews, but sure enough, there’s so much information out there it would make your head spin.

The library is another treasure trove for knowledge. In the town where I live they built a new library. It’s an amazing building and has lots of features beyond just books. I asked the librarian if people were using the library. She informed me that since the new library has opened, they’ve seen a 60% increase in library card registrations.

My most recent method of learning has been documentaries. I’ve watched more than fifteen documentaries on art, artists, and fashion over the last couple of weeks. I find watching a documentary with a creative bent inspires me to get to the studio and create my own work. These stories blaze trails and open my eyes to what’s possible in telling my own story.

I guess what I’m saying is there’s more than one-way to learn. The world is full of opportunities beyond the classroom to learn and explore. Lifelong learning is important because it keeps us current. It makes us more interesting and research has shown the lifelong learning can decrease the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Go take a class. Learn an instrument or a foreign language. Explore the many avenues available to expand your mind.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 33 Focus

It’s said that focus is important for achieving your goals. Thinking about focus was a result of working in the studio. I’ve been working on a few pieces. Two are based on motifs I’ve been working on since the beginning of the Winter Feast for the Soul, and the other is an experimental piece.

Focus refers to attention. When I think of focus it brings images of a camera. I want things in focus because it gives definition to the subject. It gives parameters to what I’m viewing. When I focus I feel dedicated to my process. The interesting thing is focus makes things clear, but often my work is messy.

I remember attending an artist talk years ago at Plus Gallery. The artwork was abstract in a sense. There were some aspects that looked like it had some realistic roots, but it was as if Vaseline had been smeared on the lens.

The artist began talking about her inspiration and her process. A member of the audience asked about this particular show and her response cleared up the mystery. She explained that many days during the week she rides the bus. She would spend hours riding the bus with sketchbook in hand she sketched. The paintings were her vision of the road as she’s passing the sites while riding the bus.

I liked her explanation because it played with the concept of blurry focus. What I was thinking about today in the studio was that focus can be whatever I want it to be because it’s centered on what I’m open and present to at that time. The meditation allowed me to view focus about the experience than an exact definition.

My meditation is about focus. It allows me to focus on my breathing. It allows me to focus on my devotion to my art. It allows me to focus on creativity and storytelling. I’m thinking I’d like to meditate on being out-of-focus and see what surfaces. If I spend a meditation session on that experience I’ll let you in on my insights.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 29 Experimentation

There are times in our lives when we try things that are supposed to be good for us. We try fad diets, adult coloring books, drink green tea, and learn to slam poetry as a way to express us. I believe that when we experiment we step outside the lines. We expand our horizons. Moving out of our comfort zone has it’s perks and obviously is not without its fears.

Today I started playing with stitches on my new sewing machine. The machine has 350 built-in stitches so I have a lot of options. What I find interesting while trying these new stitches is they evoke different feelings. They create moods. They accentuate and punctuate aspects of my art.

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I don’t like change. If you know me, or come to know me, you’ll see that I dig my heels in when change makes its presence known. I’m using the sewing machine and my art as way to ease into the realm of experimentation. I figure, if I can do it in my art, I can transfer that action to the real world.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a risk taker. When I moved to California from New Jersey, I got on a plane one hot August evening with two boxes and a suitcase. I relocated 3000 miles to go to school. I didn’t know anyone in California, didn’t have a job, and didn’t have a place to live. This is an example of ultimate experimentation. Of course, I was thirty years younger than I am currently. You’d think experimentation gets easier with life experience, but I haven’t found that to be the case.

I’ve allowed my meditation to be a place of experimentation. I can experiment in thought and feeling allowing me to explore what frightens me, excites me, and challenges me. During these quiet and thoughtful times I’m able to go beyond my self-imposed limits. I’m able to experiment with the “what if” questions. I can live in the space of “as if” and I have permission and freedom to be and do anything I choose.

Meditation is like being a “life” mad scientist. I can be as sane or weird as I choose. I can explore the most conservative and insane ideas. I can dream and then land in my body. Experimentation in my meditation world is life affirming!

Winter Feast for the Soul 2o17: Day 27 Evolution

Was Darwin right about evolution? Are we the creatures we are today because of evolution? I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got to where I am today. I’m exploring two things, evolution and entelechy.

I was taught in school about evolution (obviously I didn’t attend a religious academic institution that believes in creationism). I like many have seen the poster of man’s evolution from knuckle dragging to standing erect. Clearly it was a long process and as archeologists and anthropologists continue their research we’re learning more about our beginnings.

Jean Houston, one of my heroes, speaks a lot about entelechy. She equates entelechy to an acorn. An acorn has everything it needs, within its hardened shell, to become a magnificent oak tree. It knows before it even cracks open that it will be an oak tree. Are people the same way?

I’ve been pondering evolution and entelechy because I’m on a creative pilgrimage. I’m no Picasso, Rothko, or Diebenkorn. I wonder if like they acorn they had this natural affinity for creating great works of art. On the other hand, over time did they evolve and become the great painters we’ve come to know and love.

I can tell you I work at my art. I never took an art class, but an amazing textile artist has mentored me. She always provided the caring truth, and encouraged me and other students to keep creating. I believe I’m on the path of evolution. Each piece I create tells a different part of my story. It allows me explore new ways of using my voice. Different methods, techniques, and design cues allow me to share different parts of my mind and spirit.

On the flip side, I’ve always had a creative life. I spent many years singing school and community choirs. I took flute and guitar lessons. I never ventured toward the visual arts because I can’t draw. It wasn’t until I found the textile world that the visual arts because my home.

If I take it one step further am I evolving as a person? Are my relationships growing richer? Am I living life more authentically? Am I using my gifts to benefit the world? This would be my own personal evolution. I do believe I was born with an inherent nature to care for others. My professional life has been devoted to alleviating pain, providing a safe space for those facing challenges and obstacles to achieve their own best lives.

Is it possible to have evolution without entelechy? Perhaps in the physical realm, but I’m not sure about the emotional or spiritual life I work on each day in my meditation.

Winter Feast for the Soul 2017: Day 26 Weight of the World

It’s a chaotic world. If you are brave enough to watch the evening news you know that the one word to describe it is “frenzy”. It seems like a free-for-all and everyone is jockeying for position. I feel as if we’re starting to experience a universal experience of exhaustion. I was messaging with a friend of mine today and he said, regarding the new administration, “It’s only been two weeks but it feels like two years.”

On the flip side, I feel renewed when I hear about certain stories that show how the world is supposed to work. There was a young girl with her mother at a KFC. She witnessed a customer tell the employee his wanted his meal remade because it was prepared by a black man. The little girl, who goes to a Christian school, was horrified. In turn to begin the act of reparation and healing, she took the man at the restaurant cards that spoke about love and acceptance. This was a child initiating it! Don’t you think she’s way too young to feel like the “weight of the world” is on her shoulders?

Today I also heard a story about a man in the LA area who has been a foster parent to children with terminal illnesses. He wants these children, some who will die while he cares for them, to know that they aren’t alone. This isn’t about being a hero. I believe he is trying to lift the “weight of the world” off the shoulders of these young souls.

I was watching the documentary, As Is about the work done by artist Nick Cave. The documentary took him to the community of Shreveport, Louisiana. They created beaded blankets depicting their stories. In the end, during a community performance, they lay all the beaded blankets on top of him, each depicting their story and now he’s bearing the “weight of the world”. After all the bead blankets are on top of him, he rolls them up in his own beaded blanket and carries them away.

We all bear the “weight of the world” on our shoulders. True, it might only be our world, and not all of humanities, but it can still feel heavy. The meditations I’ve done over the past twenty-five days have helped me (most of the time) to feel as if that burden isn’t going to drag me under. It has given me room to create visual reflections of my pilgrimage. It continues to help lighten the load.

How do you bear the “weight of the world”? What keeps you afloat?