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Life is always about change, but sometimes we feel it more...
We are out of lockdown (officially) here in Washington, DC and yet, things still don't feel very certain or safe. This is still a strange time, but the truth is, we are always living with change. Even though our worlds are changing all the time, it always feels like change is awkward and uncomfortable to adjust to. We think, if only we get organized enough, we can avoid the discomfort of change the next time. But there is always a next time, and no matter how much we think we have prepared for the change, we are still caught unaware. We may think that after a difficult year and a half that we have been through that any change would be welcome at this time. And yet there is still always the uncertainty of readjusting to something new. I have written about change in earlier blog posts, such as here.
The Befriending Our Shadow course has just ended. Endings such as this always force me to turn inwards. This course calls for an intense focus, which is deeply rewarding but at the same time I find I need time for deep reflection and rest afterwards. It is an honor to be a witness to the participants' deep work and courageous explorations. I learn so much along with them and find I need time to integrate what was learned and to think of ways to make the course even better next time. And it is almost summer, traditionally a more open-ended time, reminiscent of the school year. Somehow I have never really moved beyond that sense of summer being "time off" even though it isn't really any more.
So, with all of this comes, uncertainty, a sense of nostalgia for a past (before lockdown) that I'm not really remembering correctly and will never be able to go back to. What will the future be like? One thing I have noticed is that I have been re-evaluating the life I had before the pandemic, the habits I had back then. Do I really want do go back to the structure of my days as they used to be? As an introvert, there were ways in which I appreciated the excuse to spend longer hours on my own, in my studio working on dolls or drawings, or just at home watching movies or reading whatever book has caught my interest of late. How can I balance and leave room for these inward times of exploration with going back "out into the world" again?
I am also evaluating the Befriending Our Shadow course, tweaking and adding. This seems to be an on-going part of the process. The course will be offered again in the fall and the basic outline will remain the same, but I'm considering some changes that will make it even more powerful and effective. Stay tuned. Change is a chance to see things, even very familiar things, anew. When the context changes, we suddenly see ourselves and what we have been doing with new eyes. I am appreciating that and trying to take advantage of this new view.
For instance, it was the shutdown that motivated me to offer the on-line course, Befriending Our Shadow, three times, when I was no longer able to teach in-person workshops! It might have taken me much longer to do this without the impetus of the pandemic. So this was a silver lining that came from the pandemic for me. I wonder what the silver linings might have been for you.
Below I give you a peek into what some of those things were that I missed over the past year, when things were shut down. Some artists who I visited in studios that no longer exist. A show (of mine) that didn't happen. And museums and galleries that I visited where I could see the works so close up that I could see the brush strokes on a painting, the patterns of cloth used to construct a doll or wall hanging-not the same as viewing them on-line.
Some of the things I missed during lockdown...
Now that we are sort of/kind of coming out of the lockdown of the last year, I have been thinking about what I missed from before this strange time. One of those things was being able to go to actual museums and to see my artist friends in their studios or shows. Below is a peek at some of my visits in the past with artist friends and to museums and galleries. You can see many of these artists works on-line now and I have provided links. (It's not like I didn't get to visit these artists, see these shows in the past. I did. But who knows what shows and artist visits might have happened if we hadn't been locked down.)
Also I miss what didn't happen for me-a possible show of work that had to be cancelled and now I have to think about how it will manifest in the future. Above is a detail from a book that I wrote and illustrated about the journey of a crone-like woman, named Kalili, who comes up from her underground world, to heal a sickness that has come over the medieval world of the story. In a way, it is a metaphor for our current ecological crisis. In this image, Kalili and her companions are waiting to be let into the gates of one of the main town in the fictional country of Ysadluftvelt.
What I missed...
...being able to do things like visit my friend, Pauline Siple, in her Torpedo Factory studio before the shutdown. She is no longer there, but her paintings, dolls and other works can be viewed on-line.
..being able to see my friend Leslie Blackmon's thesis presentation at her graduation from The Washington Studio School. She shows her work at the Touchstone Gallery in DC, and her work is also viewable on-line.
...being able to visit my artist friend, Susan Sherwin, when she had her studio at Art Blitz Studio, founded by artist Barbara Muth.
Susan is no longer at that artist collective, but Barbara Muth and her artist collective is still there. Susan does wonderful portraits and recently did a series of dinosaur paintings, inspired by her grandson, whom she has also taught to be an artist. He recently has had several commissions and at age eight, is a painter in his own right.
...being able to see this Black Dolls show, curated by artist and doll-maker, Priyah Bhagat. I did post here previously more about this wonderful exhibit, that I was honored to be able to participate in.
Below are some images I saw at the National Gallery at a time before lockdown. The first was part of an amazing series by Thomas Cole. This one was called "Old Age." This series of paintings take you through the stages of life, showing, through metaphor and symbol, what most occupies one at each stage.
And below that is a powerful doll-like image by Bessie Harvey (also at the National Gallery, I think) called Birthing and made of painted wood, beads, rhinestones, sequins, glitter and a nail. I love the juxtaposition of all these materials and the power of the image.
Below are some details of the above scene in the Kalili story, in more detail. Here are the words from this page "I noticed a brass knocker in the shape of a bear...one of the doors swung slightly inward. We could see a brown foot, a leather clad foot and then a petite figure of a person. It was difficult to tell if it was a man or a woman. The figure was covered from head to toe in a dark brown cloak, like a monk's habit. A small voice issued out of its mouth, invisible within the folds of the hood, 'who are you and what is your business here?'" The images are drawn with pen, goauche and Caran D'Ache watercolor crayons.
I've been making dolls for about ten years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am excited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!