Art defies death

December 30, 2007



Photos by Rende Zoutewelle

Last year a young farmer was pumping up a tractor tire and it exploded in his face, killing him instantly.

He left a wife and young children, and a village in shock.

Yesterday, I passed his grave, which had until now been marked by a simple wooden sign and drawings from his children, and it had been transformed. (See photo)

This grave simply shouts out, ‘We defy death’.  Instead of a heavy, traditional stone marker, metal has been sculpted into a simple celebration of life, his life and the continuing life of his family.  The marker is rich with symbolism linked to the farmer’s birthplace, and the ring of vitally alive, dancing  people in a circle are his family and dear ones, each named.

Art has been put into service here to defy death, to heal, to celebrate life!

Transforming your vocation

December 25, 2007

When I was a graphic designer I missed an aspect of community service in my work. It was always business and deadlines and figuring out prices.

There has always been a strong pull toward the healing professions for me, and around 15 years ago I began to look for ways to work as a healer. I felt that my previous work as an artist designer had little left to offer me.

This quest eventually led me to working as an artist healer in hospitals. See my site for details of this work.

But lately something wonderful is happening. The separation between healing and my career in graphics/calligraphy/fine art is itself healing.  From my own experience and from others’ fine examples, I have realized something I always knew deep down, it actually doesn’t matter what you do, but who you are. Your approach is what makes something merely one more job done,  or a healing gesture. 

It started with the harpsichord painting. Because of the warm contact with the customer who was also a neighbor, the job had all the elements of community, connection and appreciation I’d been looking for elsewhere. The ‘healing’ aspect was more subtle, and had to do with how touched my neighbor was by all the work and love evident in the decoration.

I notice with my other commissions, they are not just about fulfilling the client’s requirements, but about supporting them in coming to the best solution for the fairest price. And as my husband does, delivering work that is designed to last a lifetime or more.

I find that opportunities for healing, reconciliation, and building community are coming to me now through the work I have been doing my whole life as second nature. I feel reconnected to my craft, to my colleague artists and to the world. Not that there aren’t new challenges, every job is a new situation, but that in a sense I have come home to my Vein of Gold and found there what I’d been searching for everywhere else.

Go figure.

Anyone else have similar experiences? I’d love to hear.

Tai chi as an offering

December 22, 2007

The whole landscape is covered in frost crystals, a hoar frost.  Even though I miss having snow, it looks Christmassy out there, and I am thankful.

I used to express my overflow of gratitude at nature’s beauty in my painting. But I would often get frustrated because my efforts would fall short of what I was seeing or feeling.  And it seemed that I was walking around always on the lookout for a good painting, which is a lot like always looking for the next photo. Often you stop experiencing what is in front of you while you are trying to exploit it in some way for your own needs.

For a long while I missed some kind of interchange with the things in nature that touched me. I wrote haikus for several years, that was satisfying.

But today I discovered something. Tai Chi as a tribute to beauty and a way to be a part of the world.  I went out in the cold winter sun, to a patch of ground in the cemetery nearby, and under the frosted trees I did my dance of Tai Chi as a thank you for being part of this perfect world.

I would like to see a marketing course offered especially for women and artists.  I am so tired of the ‘go get ’em’ , ‘make it happen’  kind of mentality I encounter everywhere business is being discussed. 

At a Marketing & Networking evening I went to, I discovered that a lot of the new entrepreneurs were mature women like me.  And we had needs and sensibilities that simply weren’t being addressed by the current hard sales approach.

If I were giving such a course I would start out by finding out who was in the group, what their life values were, and what internal needs were being met by starting a business. I would have them look at their lives to find out what works best for them, who their friends and mentors are, who their Creative Monsters are/were. I’d focus on creativity and nurturing it.  We would dream together first, brainstorm and be creative and crazy. Then we would start looking at our goals and the most appropriate way for each individual to achieve them.  We would look at authentic business practices, we would look at female and male role models who were running businesses we felt good about and analyze what they were doing.  We would draw and sing and role play. We would have meals together and exchange massages.

We would explore new ideas emerging about drawing money and clients to us, based on spiritual laws. These involve  creating an internal condition first to attract the external form desired.

We would see how we could support each other in meeting our goals. We would see how each other’s  networks could be mutually enabling. Certainly we would look at traditional marketing methods and see if we could adapt them for our needs. But in no way would we be forcing oursleves into roles that we didn’t feel comfortable filling. We would certainly venture out of our comfort zone, but in manageable steps. 

We would honor each other where we were at that point, money would be a wonderful tool and indicator of being on track, but the goals would be about individuation, joy, creating community, improving quality of life, self-empowerment, creativity, enabling, beauty, and adventure.

Anyone want to sign up? (Men also welcome of course).

Guerilla art

December 15, 2007


For anyone who doesn’t know what ‘Guerilla art’ is, here is how it is defined in Keri Smith’s new book:

‘The stereotype of the guerilla artist is someone who makes extremist work and who is constantly on the run from the law. For the purposes of this book I would like to expand on this concept and define guerilla art as any anonymous work(including but not limited to graffiti, signage, performance, additions, and decoration) installed, performed, or attached in public spaces, with the distinct purpose of affecting the world in a creative or thought-provoking way.

Keri is one of those rare people who has her finger on the pulse of new things happening for a whole generation or era, perhaps even before they happen! It is the same reason why some artists get very famous and popular, they tap into something that is in the unconscious of a whole society or part of society and show people what they are thinking or where the society is headed. I think Keri has this quality, she is tuned into something essential that wants to happen, and she accumulates many of the voices on that theme and weaves them into a coherent statement.  Plus she is an artist herself.

What excites me about guerilla art is that is is a direct challenge to the established artworld.  I think for years many artists were trying to be rebels, but the system simply absorbed those getures and turned them into consumer items.  Guerilla art and associated activities take place outside the art world, are done mostly anonymously, and have nothing to do at all with money. 

Growth and revolution almost always take place in the margins of society. This is one very good argument for resisting the ‘corporatization’ of art.  I love the thought of  little sparks of thought-provoking creativity appearing on the streets, in empty lots, in railway stations and airports, in  public places everywhere.  Go to keri’s blog, and do something revolutionary, buy the book!