I went subterranean twelve weeks ago, maybe more. Came up again two days ago, I think. I know this because I found myself gardening yesterday.
This was a tunnel of a place I’ve been in, a way into and through the deep, long list entitled Impossible-but-Necessary. In twelve weeks strong and beautiful people died, shockingly, suddenly, and those of us who grieve them turned inward then slowly forward; old and treasured things were broken then transformed phoenix-like amid the mourning, the loss. Boundaries were breached, injuries dealt and received, some old trusts betrayed and also new ones established without question. Concerts were rehearsed and played; family homes sold and contents dispersed, others burned and the tenants embraced by this rich community. Long overdue letters were written and sent; 50-year careers ended; a 20-year-old vehicle sold for parts; the streets in the city opened and excavated in the great replacement of metal with plastic…
As the boxes were packed and the old things released into landfill sites, recycling depots, re-store Judy Collins sang who knows where the time goes? to help the tears come.
As the goodbyes were said after the stories were told, as the weeping hugs were shared, Kodaly’s solo cello sonata raged and softened and spoke …
As the solos were played and the painting delivered; as the portfolio was presented and the university applications sent, Cohen sang ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering…
Through all the overnight insomnia on the studio couch Joni sang dream on, dream on...
As we turned forward into spring, and green and growth, david sereda sings, you’re beautiful. Be You. Coco Love Alcorn sings We gather ’round when we can, and we let ourselves be true… Tyler Wagler sings …out the doorway, ‘way we go. Where you lead, I will follow … Kati Gleiser plays Rachmaninoff and then sings our beauty back to us.
As predicted, each painting for #Selfie has had it’s own arc of becoming. They have all been surprises, have all taught me things I wouldn’t otherwise know. It’s been a privilege to be at the centre of this project and participate in the discovery, the shaping and polishing of each facet. Quite a geological process – I am changed by it, I know.
I sat down to pull the book together and realized that even though the whole project has a broader, wider arc I was still inside it, making. Still in process, still on the curve…
It became clear over the days of showing up for writing that this lovely broad #Selfie arch also had a corresponding shadow. As I walked along this one it became narrower, and darker, and steeper – in descent.
Then I realized, “Ah. This is personal now.”
also, “Ah. This is writing of Book”.
#Selfie has been a great collaborative experience – music, performance art, spoken word, poetry, well-considered response and story. Ron de Boer and staff, david sereda, Kristan Anderson, Larry Jensen, Coco Love Alcorn, Christopher McGruer, Paul Hartmann, Christian Wilke, Marcus Vichert, Norm Bell, Thom MacFarlane, Kate Walsh, John Fearnall, Brad Morley, Frank Klaassen… so many more who climbed in and on to add thought, response, notice, rhyme, feeling, rhythm, comment. Highly resonant, this idea of examining #Selfie.
Did I think it had already got personal, in the making of the paintings? Yes. Yes I did think that.
But the paintings were one of five components to #Selfie. There was also the collaborative performance; the collaborative spoken word; the blog (the way in to the paintings); and the book. The book is the larger arc – both visible and public, and invisible, personal. Not a compilation (though I thought that’s what it would be), not a summary or a closing paragraph. It has elements of those ideas, but the book needed to be a distillation of the experience into something …chewable.
So I wrote a folk tale.
It begins this way,
A girl was born with a sleeping wound buried deep inside her. She also had joy, which was clear for anyone to see.
While she was growing up, her family, who loved her very much, gave her another wound to keep, and buried it deep in her future. They also gave her love, which was clear for anyone to see.
They made the wound they gave her out of pieces of their own memories, fragments of their parent’s arguments, scattered bits of rage and anger that they had collected from behind the doors and under the carpets, in the chesterfield beneath the pillows, under the beds, under the kitchen sink. they put all of their hopes and dreams for her in the wound, and wrapped it all up in a beautiful cloth made from their love.
That was the way it had happened for them, the way it had always been, and the way it would always be.
I’ve loved the essential nature of Folk Tales for as long as I can remember. They don’t mess around with descriptive filler or emotional drama, but deliver metaphor in layers which the reader can take in and combine, to build their own image and intuitive response. Always I’m trying to do this with my paintings. This last #Selfie painting more than any of the others – possibly because of the book writing, and the Folk Tale…
When the time came for the girl to leave her parents and seek her fortune, everyone agreed that she was well-prepared. Beautiful and full of life, promise, intelligence and talent, it was clear that she would have no trouble finding success, fulfilment, happiness and love.
And so she did. As the years passed, everyone who knew her was reassured by the clean arc of her life, since This was the way it had happened for them, The way it had always been, The way it would always be.
She herself was happy, content and grateful for the comforts she enjoyed, until she came to the day in her future where her parents’ gift was buried.
Today from 6 until 8pm we will launch the book and this final #Selfie painting. The show will come down on August 8th, and then #Selfie will be in Chapter Two, which I’ve not written yet, but I shall. Here’s the link to that event if you’re nearby & on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/748736241853940/
The story to be told there is a more introspective one – it’s mine, certainly, but also it belongs to anyone who is pulled to #Selfie Examination. Good heavens there are riches there – fragility; audacity; strength; disempowerment; blind, mute sadness; singing joy; risk and nourishment. It behooves one to keep walking down the path….
In the story, the girl meets a Hermit. Then she meets the Great God Pan. Then she meets Baba Yaga, and ….
Well, write to me if you want the rest of the story. It belongs, I think, to all of us.
It’s been a week since the morning after #Selfie’s opening at Gallery de Boer. That was such a profoundly good time, rich with love and excellence, risk and joy. We all of us had about an inch of air beneath our feet as we walked through the space and played together on the roof afterwards. That felt so good I’ve barely touched the ground since. Thank you thank you to the 150 and more people who agreed to meet in that space & do marvelous things. To Ron de Boer, Sarah, Jean and everyone at the gallery who jumped on the #Selfie train and rode it, screaming around corners to the station. Deep deep gratitude especially to my incredibles who held centre: david sereda, Coco Love Alcorn, Larry Jensen and Kristan Anderson. That was fine fine work.
#Selfie work continues. I am compiling the oceans of material I’ve collected from social media, written response pieces, research and documentation of my own process into a book, which is coming along nicely. We hope to have this published and available by the third week of July – write to me here if you’d like a copy or two. I’ll keep everyone informed about how that project is progressing. I’d also like to put a couple of new pieces in before the show comes down on August 1 – they are whispering in the back of my mind, and would like to be manifest. We’ll see how that goes.
Much has occurred between last friday and today – a noon-hour concert with david sereda in a church with wonderful resonance, a gathering of friends to move me from country to town, a reclaiming of things I’ve not seen for ten months, a sort and file. I’ve been especially challenged by the process of coming back to normal sleep patterns – by 19th June I’d become accustomed to a 3-hour sleep then work then sleep then work out routine, like some subterranean sleep cycle experiment. Mostly back now, but that was interesting. It got the work done, though, and perhaps more importantly it put me in a place where I was open to imagery and resonance beyond what was immediately obvious. Love that edge.
Cello is calling me to practise this morning – I have two solo gigs this weekend, and need to build that stamina back. Wonderful.
Life is incredibly, marvelously rich.