"Vision that responds to the cries of the world and is truly engaged with what it sees is not the same as the disembodied eye that observes and reports, that objectifies and en-frames. The ability to enter into another's emotions, or to share another's plight, to make their conditions our own, characterizes art in the partnership mode. You cannot define it as self-expression - it is more like relational dynamics.......Partnership demands a willingness to conceive of art in more living terms. It is a way of seeing others as part of ourselves.".........Suzi Gablick (The Re-Enchantment of Art)
Monday, August 31, 2009
On Sacred Arts
Monday, August 24, 2009
Spider Woman Revisited
“What might we see, how might we act, if we saw with a webbed vision? The world seen through a web of relationships…as delicate as spider’s silk, yet strong enough to hang a bridge on.”
Catherine Keller, Theologian, "From a Broken Web" (1987)
"It is through the poetry of myth, mask and metaphor Spiderwoman comes alive. The rock surface of an ancient petroglyph site is merely a veil between the observer and the other transcendental realms; it becomes a portal through which to enter the world of Spider Woman. As others have written before me: "She is with me now as I tell you these stories."
Carol Patterson-Rudolph, "The Trail of Spider Woman" (1997)
I have always felt inspired by this ancient myth, which for me is a metaphor on many levels. Spider Woman's threads weave from the center of life, a symmetry of interdependency. We are all Relations.
Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly
Another story I've heard is that weavers often leave a flaw in the work - because the only perfect web is that of Grandmother Spider Woman.
As anthropologist Carol Patterson-Rudolph has commented, to the Navajo Spider Woman is an initiation into a more expanded and interconnected way of seeing. She is able to bridge the sacred and prosaic dimensions of life - but for those who are not ready, Grandmother Spider will be invisible, nothing more significant than an insect so small she can sit on a shoulder and never be seen or heard. And yet, for those with eyes to see, her Web is everywhere.
There is a legend that Spider Woman will return at the end of this era (which, according to the Hopi calendar, is now). In his book on Hopi religion, scholar John Loftin writes that:
“Spider Woman was the first to weave. Her techniques and patterns have stood the test of time, or more properly, the test of timelessness – because they have always been present. It makes sense that one would follow the instructions of a deity who helped form the underlying structure of the world in which one lives…..…..Weaving is not an act in which one creates something oneself – it is an act in which one uncovers a pattern that was already there.”In Pueblo mythology Spider Woman is also called Thought Woman. With Tawa, the Sun God, She spins the world into being with what she imagines, with the stories she tells. I love this notion of creation - from her very being Spider spins silken, transparent threads that she organizes into patterns, ever expanding in complexity and scale. Tse Che Nako weaves her threads, sharing the creative power with all of her descendants. We participate in the weaving and the telling.
is sitting in her room thinking of a story now -
I'm telling you the story she is thinking.
Keresan Pueblo myth
Like the Spider Woman we conceive with our minds; but we “weave” the stories of our lives with the manifest works of our hands, bringing the imaginal into the physical.
In 2007 participants in the community art project Kathy Space and I created in Midland cast their hands to make “personal icons”, united by a thread connecting them to each other. Because Spider Woman’s many hands are our hands, weaving our stories and dreams into the world. Casting our hands honored the unique creative powers each possesses, honoring our abilities to become "conscious weavers“ with that which is ineffable.
A spiritual paradigm is founded upon mythic roots - the "warp and woof” from which ideas grow. Following the metaphor theologian Katherine Keller has provided in her book "From a Broken Web" - can we can find contemporary mythic models that allow us to envision our world as it really is – a shimmering web of interconnected relationships, and ecology of being. Can we find ways to "see the world with a webbed vision”?
may we then rub a bit of spider web into the palms of our hands.
Loftin, John D. , Religion and Hopi Life, Second Edition, Indiana University Press, 2003
Keller, Catherine, From a Broken Web (1989), Thames & Hudson
Patterson-Rudolph, Carol, On the Trail of Spiderwoman, 1997, Ancient City Press
Saturday, August 15, 2009
that grips the garden to your need,
that roots you deep into its soil
which is immortal
It's all a gift, a blessing of enormous generosity. I just want to affirm that, here, and every morning. Gratitude. I think that's what I most want to express in my article The Mask of Sedna about the Inuit myth (soon to be published) on Coreopsis A Journal of Myth and Theatre is ultimately about - our urgent need to remember that our relationship with our Living Earth must be based upon gratitude, and an understanding of spiritual as well as physical reciprocity and responsibility. And I'm grateful as well to this wonderful new magazine, founded by mythologist and performance artist Lezlie Kinyon.
I felt like sharing this poem, which I wrote on a long ago.
PRAISE THE DAY
The colors and taste of it!
Praise the light, dappled
among amber leaves, the light
framed by an open window.
And all things blue! Praise,
praise summer skies,
their endless exaltation,
and all waters reflecting blue,
and a blue-eyed cat, sleeping on the windowsill.
Oh, praise the light, and all windows!
Praise the sand between my feet:
Praise the Song the ocean sings
today and forever
with or without me to listen.
Praise these ears, these eyes,
praise to the pearl of sweat
on your brown arm,
Praise, praise to you!
And praise to all eyes,
to the woman
who regards me from mirrors.
Praise to the dark eyed waitress,
the bus driver, the cashier,
a child in a yellow sweater
running among the trees.
Praise them all!
All those I've loved,
the ones gone, the ones that remain -
the multitudes I've walked among
the company that's shaped me:
PRAISE THE DAY!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The Cape Farewell Project
with the same thinking that caused the problem
Cape Farewell is devoted to creative networking and exchange between artists, scholars and scientists in order to raise consciousness about the rapid change of climate, to give Voice to the rapidly changing landscape of the Arctic. In their own words:
"The Arts are a core part of the Cape Farewell project: one salient image, sculpture or event can speak louder than volumes of scientific data and engage the public's imagination in an immediate way.
The High Arctic, for myriad reasons, provides a place for real artistic investigation. It is on their journey to the world’s tipping points that our artists and scientists begin their conversations, which lead to further research and production of pioneering new work. Since 2003, these expeditions have proved to be the linchpin in the Cape Farewell portfolio, aiming to provoke and evoke a cultural response to the true scale of how the earth’s environment and climate are changing. The artists have found new and innovative ways to represent this extraordinary place and the implications of climate change. From the expeditions has sprung an extraordinary body of artwork, educational projects and collaborations. Explore the art, exhibition and events pages to find out more."David Buckland 2006
Friday, August 7, 2009
The Solace of Open Spaces
“The truest art I would strive for in any work would be to give the page the same qualities as earth: weather would land on it harshly; light would elucidate the most difficult truths; wind would sweep away obtuse padding. Finally, the lessons of impermanence taught me this: loss constitutes an odd kind of fullness; despair empties out into an unquenchable appetite for life.”Gretel Erlich, THE SOLACE OF OPEN SPACES
Gretel Ehrlich joined the Cape Farewell Project on their first Art/Science Expedition in 2003, on a voyage from Tromsø to Spitsbergen via Bear Island. Cape Farewell is an international organization that support environmental art and exchange between scientists and artist to raise consciousness about global change. Gretel has published many works of non-fiction, fiction, and poetry including: The Solace of Open Spaces, This Cold Heaven and A Match to the Heart.*
She has visited Greenland ten times, resulting in a book, This Cold Heaven, a National Geographic story on the effect of climate change on traditional hunting culture in January, 2006, a National Public Radio report, and a forthcoming film. She is also the author of The Future of Ice, a non-fiction work on climate change the includes the first Cape Farewell voyage to the Arctic.Gretel Ehrlich spent the year 2007 on a circumpolar journey meeting with Arctic people in villages across six Arctic nations, in order to hear about their lives - past and present - and how they are being affected by climate change. Her book, Farthest North, about indigenous Arctic people and climate change, is forthcoming from National Geographic Books in 2009. It explores the ways in which the changing climate has already affected their icecaps and landscapes, their lives and traditions. Arctic ecosystems are in a state of collapse and the remaining subsistence traditions of these boreal cultures are vanishing with them. To read a good interview with Robert Birnbaum about This Cold Heaven , follow the link.
"So much in American life has had a corrupting influence on our requirements for social order. We live in a culture that has lost its memory. Very little in the shapes and traditions of our grandparents pasts instructs us in how to live today, or tells us who we are, or what demands will be made on us as members of society. The shrill estrangement some of us feel in our twenties has been replaced by a hangdog collective blues. With our burgeoning careers and families, we want to join up, but it’s difficult to know how or where. The changing conditions of life are no longer assimilated back into a common watering trough. " (1997)
Monday, August 3, 2009
I'm in the middle of finals for my ESL certificate program, which has taken up pretty much 24/7 for the past month. So, dear friends and colleagues, forgive me if I've not been very conversant. I've been immersed in a fascinating world of international students and the roots of Language Acquisition, and a group of fellow explorers, many just out of college and eager to see the world, but many like me as well. Retired? Never! Just creating a new career, a new path, a new adventure. Increasingly, I realize that there are no finalities.
It has been wonderful to meet people from around the world.........and I've occasionally become teary-eyed sitting with young people from the Ivory Coast, and China, and Saudi Arabia, and Korea, and Brazil, and Ecuador, and Sumatra......all immersed in finding ways to communicate, to speak with each other. All needing each other to do so.
So wish me luck. Off I go to the library to do something I haven't done in a few decades. Cram for a test!