Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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In Christmas

It’s the 18th of December, one week before Christmas day.  I’ve rehearsed and planned and delivered and engaged, I’ve painted and written and talked and sang and posted, I’ve cooked and sorted and laundered and cared-for and now all of a sudden on the eve of my first day off in what feels like centuries I’m hearing the call that maybe only dogs can hear, that no other human around me seems to acknowledge but nevertheless has got my full attention in this moment…

…. stop.

Not sure why this image. Something to do with Christmas I think.

This feels correct to the moment just previous to the moment I turned off my Christmas engines.

Basil Johnson once said to me, “Simple, and good – that’s all you need.”  We’d been talking about art, and what makes it resonate with human culture in the short, medium and long term.  As I remember, I’d been talkative and keen then – about socioeconomic indicators of health and growth, artists in the workplace and some utopian ideas around the political value of the arts as a generator of individual authenticity.  In 2004 I was Cultural Capitals Coordinator for my town of 22,000, doing my best to imagine and then somehow impossibly manifest a bridge between national and local, micrososm and macrocosm, embracing all issues visible and audible under the sun. I’d been given my rein, was impossibly curious, – a single artist-mom on the eve of a lifelong marriage that would only last a decade. I was provocative, insistent and intense, flailing.

“What kind of painting do you do?”, he asked, in a pause I’d left open.

again, no articulate explanation for this choice

My answer was long and exhausting.  He listened and gave me two words in exchange.

I heard them enough through all that noise in my head to swallow them whole and keep them alive in my belly.  They sing to me now.

 

I love these ladies with all my heart. This was a gig we played at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery six days ago.

I love these ladies with all my heart. This was a gig we played at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery six days ago.

The planet, the politics, the migrations of people and animals; conviction, passion, intensity, art and music; friendship, hurt, joy and the passage of time….  our response can be simple.  And good.

It’s a choice, to live and work that way.

 

BHill_SEwindow

I choose therefore to fill my tomorrow with simple rituals.  Instead of a phone, a computer, a list of errands, I will make a breakfast, a burning, a giving-away, a silence.  I will listen to what lies under all the Christmas noise.

This is good.  Thanks, Basil.  I can feel you smiling.


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Shock Value

There are few things that turn me off more than cheap thrill seekers or sensationalists.  I could not be less interested than I am in watching a horror film just to feel my hackles rise.  For me this is like wanting to lie down on a bed of sharpened nails just to remind myself that I have blood that flows and a heart that beats.

Do people forget these things?  Are they bored?  Is that why people watch the news, even though it’s been pre-filtered to include only horrific, disempowering stories (or interpretations of same), designed to up the public fear frequency? We all know this by now, surely.

StringSchoolBigPanel

I think we watch TV and network news, and get hooked into facebook & reddit and other more horrific ‘stream of negative community consciousness’ sites because it feels perfectly safe.  We can turn it off any time, after all.  It’s just crazy people posting weird stuff. Facebook is the tamest of all – we each have communities of like-minded people we can friend and then unfriend if they post something offensive to our value systems.  Republicans do not share daily space with Democrats, white Supremacists with Idle No More activists,  Nascar fans with Greenpeace supporters, etc.

Pretty safe, thanks to the facebook police, too (which is us).

reference for new pieces - mirror work

reference for new pieces – mirror work

We choose what we want, and don’t want to see.  This defines our system of values.  I value positive interaction and creativity more than acts of cruelty – so I choose NOT to go to sites where videos of cats being ripped apart while still alive get millions of viewers.  Over time I can actually convince myself that those sites don’t exist, since they don’t in my world.

CoverMouthMirror

Over time, if I continue this way, I can make my world fairly comfortable.  I might watch news or dip into current events on facebook, and see what’s spiking on any given day, but there are no serious shake-ups beyond the ever-growing rates of anxiety and fear and disempowerment we all share:  elections are a facade, democracy a sham, our Country has been sold to China by a crook, we have systemic health, education and socio-economic meltdowns ahead of us and are well past the tipping point with climate change.

If you put a frog in a bucket of cold water that is heated slowly to the boiling point, the frog will stay there until it dies.

HeadShotMirror

If, however, you put the frog into a bucket of boiling water, it will jump out immediately.

HeadshotMirror2

I had an intense and deeply personal experience yesterday that I was not expecting at all.  It hurt me and stunned me on every level.

I jumped out of the bucket.  Because I jumped out of the bucket I know that there was one, and why I was put there in the first place.  Because I’m not there I know what my next project is.

SelfPortrait_backdrop

Frog-me.  Alive and kicking.

 


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Lift out

These days begin in darkness and wet.

Windsheild

We live in multiple layers of clothing against the cold damp of constant seeping rain, walk under umbrellas, and peek out from under shelter until some blue sky appears.

JonesFalls2

Then we breathe the blue and the coloured leaves, and roll in the damp ones underfoot.  We go to the flashing streams, the roaring falls, the pounding waves and we exult

..until the rain and the cloud and the pounding wind bring us under and in again.

Wave2Oct_21

These times.  Pressured, heavy, challenged, shifting.  Some of us don’t have dancing feet.  Some have not learned to swim.

CurbPuddle

Two days ago in Ottawa a man died on Parliament hill.  He suffered from serious mental illness  – serious enough that he found himself a gun and  shot another man who worked as a soldier there.  I grieve for both men, whom we, in our culture, have failed to see clearly.

Poem for Michael Zehaf-BibeauMichael Zehaf-Bibeau, for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist, and for every single one of us who struggles with addiction and mental illness, in sorrow for this:

Broken Voice
September 24: studio

Thought can re-write history, she says
Meditative thought influences the order of things
Orders them more neatly so there’s less damage done.
and there’s the
small voice the difficulty
swallowing
the closed throat mid-
sentence, the little
alarms shot with adrenaline
the subtle gagging that
no one notices but
There’s no problem. Who

…said there was a
problem?  Mental Illness is only
addiction is only
another form of terrorism-
We just need more Security and

I think I caught something in
the subway – just a virus it
comes and goes it’s
not
permanent.

…something about bare feet, walking
about not leaving prints behind,
and if you do your feet print
history

I’m looking at them now,
the prints
but I can’t read
I’m not sure what happened.  Or how…?

I just want to drink an ocean of alcohol
passive-watch movies that siphon rage
go to classical concerts full of fury, listen to poets
who have found something
to let somebody else do the darkness
the refined, articulate hurt that they’ve managed to
filter through all of their exhausted bewilderment how
can I

Impotent. Invisible. I just want to sleep. only sleep.
it’s taking every ounce of my strength
to resist the rampage,
The terrible roar in me.