A Call to Make Art

chagall
After the election, I expressed my shock to an artist friend. She said, “I felt like a character in a Chagall painting flying over the landscape,” which I thought captured the sense of disembodiment so beautifully. 

There was a year I made a series of papier-mâché angels and gave them to my best friends for their Christmas trees. Somehow I did not think to make one for myself, and the top of my tree is bare. I have a lifelong habit of making things and giving them away. The final act of creation is always release. Because art is communication. An offering.

Sometimes we make meaning, and sometimes the offering is simply one of beauty, here is this thing I made. One thing I know for sure about myself is that I am compelled to create. The good stuff, the resonant and universal, comes from a place past consciousness, pulled up through the strata, dragging remnants of those other layers with it. Here is this core piece of me, perhaps one that resides inside of you, too. These extractions of truth are the rare finds. More often I am sifting dirt, sometimes discovering a piece of sandstone, a shard of shale.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. The art we make, whether the simple papier-mâché angel that sits atop the tree, or the resonant piece of writing that’s been labored over for months, is vital–crucial even. Especially now. Amidst the chaos and the vitriol, we must make art. Where they are divisive, we create connection.

No matter your chosen medium, whether your art is big or small, public or private, I call on you to create. Keep going. Hone your craft. Wield your words. Maybe you need to shout and curse or type in caps. Maybe you’re smearing a canvas with wild brushstrokes or playing a violin or knitting a scarf or adorning your home with winterberries. Whatever compels you, whatever asks to made, make that thing. Drag it up from your core through the strata of your being. Excavate truth. This is your healing. This is your resistance. This is your self-song. This is the way forward.

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New Moon

Tonight’s new moon in Gemini has my attention.

“It’s not a typical New Moon as usually New Moons are powerful times to plant seeds and set intentions-but this New Moon…is actually about discerning Truth in one’s life and making necessary decisions that have to do with endings/letting go/releasing of the past before the new can truly take hold.”

 

Feature photo credit: The Spirit Science.

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Out Loud

Reading my work out loud is becoming more comfortable (or less uncomfortable). It’s all about getting past that space where the first breath meets the first word.

Writing in this space feels more comfortable too. Sometimes there’s still that prickly feeling when I post something more vulnerable, when I’m up for telling a bigger truth. But it doesn’t last. In less than twenty-four hours my focus shifts to the new day’s truth. Days fly. I’m watching them add up. I’m feeling all the shifts and changes. I’m growing accustomed to living my life out loud.

(Post 113 of 365)

 

Tell It Slant

Every time I come to this space, I am forced to think: truth. What is the truth today? What am I willing to tell? And how do I capture it? Dickinson is always right here whispering, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” 

A dream is taking shape. And I’m going to follow it.

(Post 112 of 365)

Roxane Gay in NYC

First blog post from a train. First time back in NYC since before I was pregnant, almost three years ago. New York’s not my home, but I still feel at home in New York. And that feels so good.

A cold and rainy Sunday night in the city to see the luminescent Roxane Gay, who delivered the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture at the PEN World Voices Festival. She is truth, beauty, and brilliance, with a speaking voice that sounds like song. I feel so grateful and so inspired.

Also, she retweeted my tweet, a virtual hug. I’m walking on air all over again.

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Threads: 69/365

It’s an odd process finding one true thing to say about myself every day. Truth can be simple but doesn’t come easy. Possible threads drift through my thoughts daily, but I don’t always want to write into them. I was twelve years old the first time I ever boarded a plane alone. I believe that singing a song you love at the top of your lungs can be a form of prayer. I talk to trees and plants. Zoos and other places that imprison wildlife make me weep. One of the reasons I stay home with my toddler is so that she can be in the dirt and fresh air, on the beach and under trees. I struggle with the way writing pulls me away from my daughter and my husband. When I was twenty-one, I visited Cezanne‘s studio in the south of France, crouched on a hillside with my canvas while the wind blew dirt and twigs into my oil paints, and I painted my own Mont Sainte-Victoire.

Tethered: 48/365

Some days I’ll do almost anything else,
Wander the house, tackle the ironing, dusting, I’ll shuffle
This pile of papers, those books, to another more sensible place

from Ingrid Wendt’s The Simple Truth

A trip to the store, a long run, dishes, laundry, shoveling dirt, pulling the wheelbarrow that was too heavy to push, grading the garden bed, watching the squirrel eat an apple, salt air, Isabella walking up and down the Bilco doors trying to reach the cat in the window. The golden light that takes a little longer each day to surrender. I didn’t even try to sit down at the computer today, didn’t try to write. But here I am now, before bed. This daily practice keeps me tethered. I have to sit down and examine, figure out, come up with something. Every day I have to return to myself, look myself in the eye.