“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” -Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
Solnit’s book has become my manifesto during these troubled times. This week here in the U.S. has been particularly grievous with two mass shootings grounded in racism and misogyny further dividing our country. I send out love and a breathe of solidarity to all feeling the heartbreak of this trauma.
If you have been following my work, you know how deeply I believe in our fundamental interconnectedness and oneness with all beings including the more-than-human world. In my grief and outrage, it would be easier to just give up and the last few days have tested my faith in the healing power of art. At the same time, I have continue to show up in the morning and paint my heart on the canvas. What else am I to do, I ask?
I also agree with one of my spiritual teachers, Marianne Williamson, who is running for President. The forces of hatred are so strong that we must LOVE with the same (or more) intensity and conviction. Love of self, love of the neighbor & stranger, love of beauty, love of mother earth.
I don’t know how Julian of Norwich (who inspired the painting above), who lived as an anchoress during the Black Death in Europe, was able to say: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well” but it helps to remember that there have been other dark periods in our human history. And that art and beauty have likewise prevailed. Will you join me in this revolutionary love?
If you would like to support this ministry, you can purchase prints, posters, blankets, and note cards at my online store.
With love and gratitude,
“Sacred Art. Sacred Activism” in the August issue.
From the introduction:
We are living in a time of great change: racial, economic, and political polarities continue; climate change is contributing to record wildfires, drought, and other natural disasters across the globe; and mass shootings are sadly becoming normative to our daily lives.
There is much to grieve as we bear witness to our changing world. In tandem with what has been defined as the great unraveling, many of us are already participating in the birth of a new evolutionary consciousness as the Science of Mind community has long affirmed. Out of this darkness there is a collective rebirth yet to come with the light of love as our guide. As we navigate this threshold between a dying paradigm and a world that works for all, can art hold out a mirror to the truth of our oneness and the sacredness of all creation? Can art inspire hope and action on behalf of the living earth?
Throughout history, human beings have given expression to God, the Divine. Consider the cave paintings of Lascaux, the Hagia Sophia mosque in Turkey, or the golden icons of the Eastern Orthodox Church. To quote the late Irish philosopher John O’Donohue: “God is Beauty.” Sacred art is born of the marriage between the Holy and the creative imagination.
The Science of Mind magazine is available at Barnes and Noble and by subscription. https://scienceofmind.com/
|“It’s absurd to think of artists simply as ‘painting nature.’ . . . For them, nature is a medium, a language by which they reveal their world. What genuine painters do is to reveal the underlying psychological and spiritual conditions of their relationship to their world. . . They have the power to reveal the underlying meaning of any period precisely because the essence of art is the powerful and live encounter between the artist and his or her world.” -Rollo May|
I recently picked up and began re-reading Rollo May’s The Courage to Create that I first encountered back in graduate school. It’s an inspiring manifesto for the artist around the importance of art and creativity in a societal context as well as unconscious obstacles that are necessary to overcome in order to give birth to our artistic vision. For example, the relationship between creativity and death, our immortality, and what he refers to as “an active battle with the gods.”
Not unlike Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art, it means moving past resistance and trusting in the process. That the “gods” are actually on our side. Showing up even when it’s challenging. Not always easy but it is possible at any stage of our life.
It takes courage, which comes from the French root coeur or heart, to show up for creative work. A very talented friend of mine recently picked up a paintbrush again after 30 years. She entered her gorgeous painting into a juried exhibition and it was accepted. It’s never too late to pick up a brush, or the pen.
I can recognize when I’m hitting resistance in my process usually when nearing completion. While working on the above (from the Where We Stand is Holy installation), I needed to surrender for a time and then wrestle with the angels or demons that kept me from moving forward. It’s a breakthrough moment and am now in the finishing stages of this piece that shines a light on the creatures of the Arctic regions threatened by climate change. Where are you resisting your creative expression?
If you read or subscribe to the Science of Mind magazine look for my article, “Sacred Art. Sacred Activism.,” in the August issue.
Happy Interdependence Day!
“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”
It has been a slow unfolding here since my last newsletter. Settling into my new home and studio here in Panther Branch Township just south of downtown Raleigh. It’s now six months since I pulled out of Portland and headed back East to begin a new chapter of life. Something I swore I would never do after moving alone to Portland in 1993. It was hard then and I was in my early 30s. It took time to make a life but a beautiful life it was and remain so grateful for all the many gifts over the years.
Never say never. Here I am approaching 60 and starting over again! Natural concerns about finding community, making meaningful connections, and making a living linger but life–and loss–have taught me too many times that everyday is a gift. Some days I am lonely but on this day of life, I am following my soul. Where it will lead remains a mystery. This is the journey of a pilgrim. Will you join me? “Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life” to quote Oliver. Where are you being called to expand and take a step toward your soul calling? Artistically or otherwise?
Right now, I am committed to finishing the “Where We Stand is Holy” installation by the end of August to begin exhibiting in the Fall. I began the series of paintings around endangered species and landscapes several years ago but got put aside while care taking my father prior to his death and with the cross-country move. Prints of the first two panels (Lauds: Prayer for the Birds and “Sext: Prayer for the Desert”) are available at my shop.
The new studio seen above looks out over a quiet piece of land with wild trees, a little pond, and an abundance of Cardinals and Eastern Bluebirds. I traveled 3000 miles to find peace. Om shanti. Though I do look forward to returning to Portland to visit friends!
For love of the EARTH,
It has been a slow emergence from the cocoon this winter season as I ground into my new home state of North Carolina. Now we’ve passed the New Year, Imbolc on February 2, the mid-point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox in the Celtic tradition, and the start of the Chinese New Year-the year of the Pig. If you’re this sign as well, visit this link to learn more. Looks to be an auspicious year!
There are stirrings of creative energy around the coming season of rebirth as trees begin to bud and bloom here. Perhaps you’re feeling this impulse, too? New paintings are percolating, several are in process, and I recently completed the painting above. When I first painted in the golden crown, I wasn’t clear why until I deepened into the piece. An ancient Sumerian goddess, Inanna’s underworld journey is an archetypal symbol of transformation and rebirth. I first discovered her 18 years ago during another time of deep transformation and if you would like to learn more about her, this is a great text.
Here, she emerges from the yoni, or womb, of the Vesica Piscis, the two intersecting triangles that are considered the “seat of creation” in sacred geometry. One circle representing the transcendent/Sacred and the other, the material/profane. Two circles lead to seven intersecting triangles that become the “Seed of Creation.” This being the foundation for the six-pointed Star of David in Judaism, the Seal of Solomon in Islam, the Shri Yantra in Hinduism, and the hexagram that appears throughout Nature, like the honeycomb seen here in the painting.
I love learning more about sacred geometry as it offers another way to communicate the Sacred that is woven throughout the fabric of our everyday lives. We are interconnected beings. Bridging religion and science, we can discover more commonalities than differences especially among our faith traditions. From Albert Einstein: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
New studio space coming!
I’ve also been in the process of looking for a new home and studio space and am scheduled to close on a new property March 19, right in line with Spring Equinox. This is the photo below of the converted garage that will be the new home of Sacred Art Studio, based in Raleigh.
I continue to feel profound gratitude for your support of this holy ministry and Mother Earth for her beauty and abundance. I’m also feeling hopeful these days with the changes in our Congress and the growing climate awareness/actions especially from our young people. They need our support for their future! As always, I welcome your thoughts.
With love and gratitude,
From my December Newsletter:
There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.
Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.
Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.
Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen
nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.
-David Whyte. Excerpt from “All the True Vows”
After returning from the Parliament of the World’s Religions last month and a whirlwind time closing my home/studio and visiting friends, I arrived in Durham, North Carolina ten days ago. It was difficult to leave Oregon after 25 amazing years there but Portland is no longer the livable city that I fell in love with and was guided to make a radical change in order to continue following my soul’s journey where ever it may lead. I continue to ask, “How best can I serve our ailing albeit beautiful world with what is mine to offer?” This has been a leap into the mystery and the territory of faith.
I’m not sure Durham will be my new home ground but have a short-term lease on house that is my transition space to ground back into my work, make connections, and explore the region. As we approach the Winter Solstice, this is an ideal time to carve out some precious time in your life and go inward, reflect on the passing year, and vision for the new. What is the “one life that waits beyond all the others” to borrow from Whyte? If you had one year to live, what changes if any would you make in your life?
Our time in this bodily realm is so ephemeral and sitting with this again as another dear friend and colleague enters his dying time. Allowing the grief and present to the preciousness of existence. There was also an urgency that came through at the Parliament from every corner of the globe around climate change. That we must join together as people of faith and conscience–in the spirit of MLK, Rosa Parks, and Gandhi–to ensure a livable planet for all beings and future generations. I returned inspired by so many voices contributing to a more inclusive, loving, and sustainable world.
I also spent a lot of time in the Lodge of Nations and was deeply inspired by the generosity of our First Nations peoples to share their ancient knowledge and affirm the importance for each of us to rediscover our own indigenous roots. To quote Anishinabek elder Elder Jim Dumont: “We have to believe in the beauty of this world.” Still processing this but look forward to sharing more soon around what art/actions may emerge….
Bow of gratitude to all the friends who drummed and prayed for us all the way across this beautiful country. And angels that guided us as we navigated snowy mountain passes, the Mojave desert, and heavy construction through major cities. We felt your support all the way!
A blessed and joyful holiday season to all.
In gratitude and love,
No surprise then that butterfly woman (see my first mandala at this link) is reappearing at this threshold of my life as I embark on the next stage of this journey and navigate my second Saturn return. This 29-year cycle is often a time of disruption and transformation, and a necessary shedding occurs that opens space for the new. Has this been true for you? My first Saturn return was marked by the deaths of my brother and mother that initiated me into a new awareness of the preciousness of life, prompting my relocation to Portland 25 years ago.
I have been blessed to call this place home all these years and it has been through a long period of discernment that I have decided to move back to the East coast. It’s a leap into the unknown which is at the heart of any pilgrimage. And as pilgrims on the path, we must follow the call of the soul. This doesn’t mean it has been easy or without grief and many sleepless nights but the signs are clear. It’s time to spread my wings.
The signs were emerging four years ago, during an Animas Valley quest into the wild indigenous soul but I was caring for my elderly father and was unable to make a move at that time. This came via email recently from one of my teachers and guides on the quest, Bill Plotkin:
If you’re in Colorado, I’ll be back to Mile Hi for the closing of my show on September 30th. Hope to see you there!
Nice group of people showed up for my art opening last Friday at Karuna Contemplative Living. Thank you friends. Here with the owner, Anandi, and art enthusiast Mark. The show will be up through the end of May.
I chose these particular paintings for this exhibit because they embody the overarching message that weaves throughout my work. That we as a species must reclaim ancestral ways of being in sacred, reciprocal relationship with the earth if we are to ensure a livable planet for future generations and the survival of all species.
This was the inspiration for Resurrection: Holy mother earth with the seed of life nestled in the heart of the web of life. Our current paradigm is cracking open. Transformation, symbolized by the endangered monarch butterflies, is assured. To maintain life on earth, we need the resurrection of indigenous and ancient ways of knowing. Can we remember that we breathe with trees? That everything comes from the Earth?
Indigenous leaders and teachers like Chief Arvol Lookhorse and Robin Wall Kimmerer are telling us that we are at a crossroads. All Nations Tree of Life was inspired during a Lummi Nation ceremony and later reiterated by Chief Arvol Lookinghorse during the indigenous plenary at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015. I wept through the entire three-hour session. Their message—red, yellow, black, white—we are all one people. “We must join together as a spiritual community in order to heal Mother Earth.” And again, reading Kimmerer’s inspirational book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Her sacred text was the inspiration for the Reciprocity mandala. She writes: “The path is lined with all the world’s people, in all colors of the medicine wheel—red, white, black, yellow—who understand the choice ahead, who share a vision of respect and reciprocity, of fellowship with the more-than-human world. Men with fire, women with water, to reestablish balance, to renew the world.”
The question is: Are we listening?
My work is a contribution and a prayer toward this transformative vision.
Spring has arrived in Portland, Oregon. The garden is in bud and the birdsong abundant. Feeling grateful for this season of renewal and resurrection of life after the dark of winter. As we emerge from the chrysalis of our cocoons, beauty welcomes us home.
In retrospect, the winter months have been harder energetically on me than usual. I normally welcome the slowness and interiority of winter but the tiredness that lingered after the care giving and death of my father and with the added grief for my dear friend and spiritual teacher at the end of the year brought on an underlying melancholia. And like so many, the current political scene and mass shootings exacerbated this heaviness though am in awe of our youth and their demand for gun control.
I have been working on several paintings (The Artist’s Prayer shown above) at what feels like a glacial-pace but honoring the healing process of artmaking as I navigate this threshold time. Knowing there are gifts inherent within these times of darkness even when it doesn’t always seem apparent. Rebirth and transformation in some form are assured if we give ourselves time. Patience with our process which isn’t always supported in our fast-paced, deadline driven world. But Nature is our teacher. What seems fallow will bud again….
And so with Spring, energy is returning and am excited to share that the “Resurrection” blankets arrived and most are sold. See below. I will also be having a show of my paintings at Mile-Hi Church in Colorado beginning June 24 and running through September. If you are in the Denver area, they are also carrying my cards, devotional posters, and All Nations Tree of Life limited-edition giclee prints in their gift store–“Works of Heart.” (available on April 6)
My friends, I wish you Passover, Easter, and Spring/Pagan blessings and welcome your thoughts. What is alive for you during this season of rebirth?
When I was considering graduate school in 2003, I contemplated whether to pursue a Masters in Fine Art, a Masters in Art Therapy, or the program that I eventually ended up choosing which was an Interdisciplinary Masters in Spiritual Traditions & Ethics. I had completed undergraduate work in fine arts in my youth and had been painting and sculpting “on the side” over the years while working as a graphic designer. This was before I answered my soul calling to work professionally as an artist in 2001. An MFA might have given me the opportunity to teach in an academic setting but not necessarily. I also wasn’t interested in the mainstream gallery scene. I had recently returned from a 10-training with environmentalist Joanna Macy and was studying the teachings of Matthew Fox’s Creation Spirituality. My vision was to use my art in service to the healing of the earth. I wasn’t seeing much of that in museums or galleries though that has changed over the years with greater awareness of climate change and the ecological crisis overall.
After the deaths of my brother and mother, and relocating to Portland in 1993, I had begun prerequisites for a Masters in Art Therapy (this is how I came to sculpture originally!). Through my own grieving process, I wanted more meaningful work and to support others in their grief. I’d had a successful design career but while doing the prerequisites, I realized that I was still too raw to hold space for others as a therapist and instead found my way to the Dougy Center, a center for grieving children and families. I was a volunteer grief facilitator there for eight years and can say that those were some of the most meaningful and healing years for myself and for all those who passed through their doors. My workshops evolved out of this same desire to support others in their healing journeys.
Fast forward to 2003. At the time, I was in a writing group working on “my story” around the deaths, the spiritual awakening that occurred over those dark years, and the mystical experience I had during the Macy Training. This became my writing sample for the graduate program and was published in Alternatives Magazine. People around me thought I was crazy. They’d ask incredulously: “What are you going to do with that degree?” But I listened to my inner voice and knew this was where I was called to be. I had just founded Sacred Art Studio and wanted to study religion. I wanted to understand how humanity had become so disconnected from the natural world that we were willing to destroy the land base on which all life was dependent. I was also an avid student of art history since undergrad days and already knew of the connections between faith and art. I didn’t know exactly where my work or my life was going but I needed to trust in my vision. And so I began graduate school in the fall of 2004 and graduated with honors in 2007.
Over these past 11 years, my art and spiritual path have been informed by these studies and my intention remains the same: to communicate the sacredness of the creation, to inspire a deep reverence for the earth, and with a hope to spark actions that protect the holiness of this place we all call home. It hasn’t always been a lucrative path financially but it is a meaningful life and I live simply. I have also been having fun designing books, often for first time authors who are self-publishing. This feeds my wild love of books and desire to serve others in their creative gifts.
Recently, I was thrilled to discover a wonderful book that validated this calling. “Art Lessons” by Deborah Haynes, an artist and academic based in Colorado who likewise has studied religion and the arts. She speaks to what I have already expressed: “A theology of the arts is based on the conviction that the artist has a personal calling, a vocation, to interpret the dilemmas we face, thereby giving voice to hopes and fears, experiences and dreams. In doing this, a theology of the arts is also oriented to this world, to the present as it moves inexorably toward the future. And, it is active: It urges engagement and commitment to the world in order to bring about political, social, and cultural transformation.”
A couple of new works in progress. “Sacred Text” (working title) and a painting that originally started many years ago as 14th c mystic and visionary icon Julian of Norwich who spoke radically of Christ as Mother, as the nurturing and loving presence of God.” She wrote, “All shall be well, all shall be well…For there is a force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.” May it be so.