I tried a new thing: I evolved one art image into a new one. The two collage paintings, Begin Again and Take Part were made for my Brave Joy Collective monthly membership, partly to honor the way we weave hope and solidarity in our experiment of art and spiritual practice.
At the start, I found myself looking for hope in the days following yet more gun violence and racially-motivated hate and crime. I have been grieving, along with so many of you! I mourned for the deaths and injuries in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, feeling connected to those places and people in particular. I was (and am) also deeply angered by the cultures of violence and white supremacy that we're still not more directly addressing and changing in the United States and around the world.
So I searched hard for the building materials, literal scraps and threads of grief and hope, to make this Begin Again painting/collage. I pretty much enacted my human artist version of being a bird making a nest-- gathering, culling, hoping, failing, shifting, improvising, working working working, making a space for something beautiful to come through. Here are a few photos of the process that speak for themselves, I think. (It was scary and thrilling to poke that needle through the watercolor and string that thread to start the weaving!)
A month later, I returned to this same art piece. I'd never continued on top of a finished painting before, but I wanted to keep going. I'd learned that the Bushtit birds build their nests in community, not just as pairs. Aha! What a powerful metaphor: we didn't have to hold hope on our own, but could do it together! So I filled out the nest to expand the original theme of Hope into an art about Solidarity. It was also a fun creative twist to share the first image in May, and surprise the Brave Joy Collective in June with how it evolved. The Begin Again art original was 'lost,' serving as a stop along the road to Take Part. (Hmmmm, that could be a meditation right there, how the art for Hope is a step toward Solidarity... oooh, that's juicy.)
What do you notice in these images, especially in the changes between the first and second?
What hopes, griefs, and actions might you be weaving into your life as a step toward solidarity?
Although I still feel new to what solidarity can really mean, I trust the network of learning, growing, loving, and serving that we can build with each other. The Brave Joy Collective is an experience of collaboration and creativity, and it gives me hope. It nurtures my faith that we can and will work together to protect our planet, end gun violence, seek justice, and choose right sharing of resources for our neighbors.
May it be so. --Melanie
Begin Again Art Print available
Take Part Art Print available
Hope and Solidarity Brave Joy Art & Practices available soon (contact for details)
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Purchase a Brave Joy Collective Gift Subscription (monthly mailings only)
Begin Again Art Gallery details
Take Part Art Gallery details