"Isn’t that what we all really want, to feel known and to know that we are not alone? When we experience the excitement of unwrapping a present, aren’t we really hoping to unwrap the gift of love?
We may be accustomed to the instant gratification of material things, but we can definitely live without them. We cannot live without each other.
As the wisdom of many Bolivian friends of mine has taught me, when we feel afraid, anxious and alone, we need each other — we need community, not more consumption."
Read more about this watercolor painting at the blog Messy Jesus Business
“Como una mujer blanca, encima norteamericana, pienso que también es mi responsabilidad ser crítica del mundo de donde vengo y en cuanto pueda, usar el arte como herramienta para reflejar la resiliencia de personas que han sido históricamente marginadas. Espero desafiar al racismo, clasismo, sexismo, homofobia etcétera en nuestra sociedad pintando los rostros de personas quienes admiro y considero un ejemplo para mí y para todxs nosotrxs”.
In July 2019, I was invited to participate in an interview with MAPUEXPRESS, a Mapuche collective of communicators committed to reporting on social movements for human rights and the rights of nature and indigenous territories with a special focus on the Mapuche people. The interview focused in part on my watercolor piece, "Siembra Resistencia," and my artistic process in general.
Interested in reading the rest of the interview in Spanish?
Follow the link below!
"For white people, it can feel like the stakes are high when it comes to talking about race because our vested interest in being seen as “good people” is holding us back from the growth we need to become accountable to our beliefs and actions.
In white Catholic communities, that vested interest in believing ourselves to be “good people” often runs even deeper.
Many ask: If God loves everyone equally, why should we talk about race? If we care about Jesus and his teachings, then how can we be racist? Talking about racism seems divisive. Shouldn’t we all just try to get along?
Unfortunately, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And as white people, we have been holding on to the promise of our good intentions for too long."
Read more about this watercolor painting
in my post on the blog
Messy Jesus Business:
"It is tempting as Catholic white people, I think, to reject any notion of white supremacy as other than us. We wish to associate white supremacy with the violence and hate that we see on the news and can hardly imagine that such violence has anything to do with us.
Many of us white people struggle to see white supremacy as an integral part of the culture we participate in daily.
But we don’t have to look any further than our white images of Mary to see the white supremacy alive in our communities today."
Read more about this commissioned
watercolor painting in my post on the blog
Messy Jesus Business:
"Accountability is a step beyond apologizing, a leap beyond feeling guilty.
It is pretty basic on a personal level: when someone hurts me I expect their apology, but that apology means nothing without accountability.
Accountability means that the person who hurt me not only apologizes for the harm caused but also makes a demonstrable commitment to change, to act and do differently from now on."
Read more about this watercolor piece
in my post on the blog
Messy Jesus Business:
I am healing for me.
I am healing for my health.
I am healing for my future.
To all survivors of sexual violence and trauma, this piece is for you.
In a world that is afraid to feel, choosing to heal is a revolutionary act.
When anyone expects you to be less angry and more polite, less depressed and more composed, less complicated and more hopeful, less direct and more politically correct, less sexual and more sensible, less explicit and more optimistic, less you and more them… Please, let this piece serve as a reminder that you are not alone.
“Of women who are raped in their lifetime: 17.9% are Caucasian, 11.9% are Latina, 18.8% are African-American, 34.1% are American Indian or Alaskan Native, and 6.8% are Asian or Pacific Islander. 24.4% are mixed race…
For every African-American woman who reports her rape, at least fifteen African-American women do not report theirs….
Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive sexual contact by age eighteen….
American Indian and Alaska Native women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence committed by a strange or acquaintance rather than a family member or intimate partner. Approximately 70% of perpetrators are non-Native.
American Indians are the victims of rape and sexual assault at a rate that is 3.5 times higher than that of any other race in the United States….”
Above facts and statistics from Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence
Learn more at: https://endsexualviolencect.org/resources/get-the-facts/woc-stats/
“According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey:
Nearly half (47%) of respondents were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime and one in ten (10%) were sexually assaulted in the past year. In communities of color, these numbers are higher: 53% of Black respondents were sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 13% were sexually assaulted in the last year.”
Above facts and statistics from VAWnet.org
Learn more at: https://vawnet.org/sc/serving-trans-and-non-binary-survivors-domestic-and-sexual-violence/violence-against-trans-and
Where I live in the Andes of South America, May, June and July are some of the coldest months of the year. Temperatures do not drop nearly as low as they do in Minnesota where I was born and raised, but at a higher altitude 30 degree nights can still feel pretty cold.
In the past year, my partner and I have made an intentional shift in our lives and work to farming and caring for the Earth.
I had spent years farming in a semi-urban environment in a local community garden where I lived and served but my role was primarily one of collaboration and my connection to the land was mostly regulated to day time hours. Not to mention that the semi-urban environment didn't offer the same connection to the wild that I now find in farming in a more rural area.
Now that I am making farming more of a priority in my life and work, my consciousness and connection to the Earth and nature's cycles is radically transforming.
Every day of working with the land makes me more aware of the changing temperatures and seasons, the sounds of insects and animals, the smells of plants and flowers and the cycles of the moon.
For the first time this year, I felt myself aware of the winter solstice and the coming changes in daylight and temperatures months in advance.
And of course, my body, my mind and my Spirit resisted. I grew up in the city and my work did not necessarily depend on the change in seasons as my experiences with farming do now.
This year, as nights grew longer and temperatures grew colder, I resisted. I wanted to keep farming, keep producing, keep working though the natural cycles all around me were calling me to slow down.
I raged as I watched frost burn our crops. I dealt with anxiety as I ended each day feeling like I had not accomplished quite enough. My relationship struggled as I picked fights with my partner, unable to settle into a new rhythm, unable to slow down, forcing myself to meet my own unrealistic expectations despite the natural forces shifting all around me.
I also started paying closer attention to the moon and the night sky. I started to open my heart to the call to rest, echoing in my head. It finally occurred to me that I was fighting a losing battle.
Who was I to think that I could out do Mother Earth? Who was I to think that I could resist her cycles, her rhythm, her wisdom? Why was I exhausting myself when I could just surrender and rest?
And then a cricket arrived and set up camp right outside my window and his beautiful song soothed my anxieties night after night as I contemplated this call to surrender, to slow down, to learn to rest in Mother Earth's rhythm.
I decided to learn to listen, not only to his song, but to the many signs all around me calling me to rest.
This watercolor painting is a product of that process.
For so many reasons, I still deal with anxiety and insecurity and a compulsive wish to keep working, keep proving myself, keep moving. But I am also learning. I am learning from the natural rhythms and cycles all around me that embrace the ebb and flow, the highs and lows, the light and dark, death and new life.
I am learning to grow in humility. I am learning to see myself as a tiny part of a universal mystery much more expansive than I could ever imagine. And I am realizing little by little that our finite systems and institutions that drive an unnatural insistence on unlimited growth and production (i.e. capitalism) are not only destroying our Earth but they are chipping away at our humanity and our inherent connection and dependence on the Earth.
"Rest In Her Rhythm" is a watercolor painting created out of the desire for growth.
I desire to grow in humility and learn to live according to the natural cycles available to guide me. My hope is that this painting can serve as a reminder for me and anyone else who shares that desire for learning to rest, to slow down and live according to Mother Earth's rhythm.
Earlier this year a dear friend of mine wrote to me with an idea.
She and her partner were preparing for a formal commitment ceremony with their closest friends, family and loved ones and she wanted to work together to create a unique gift for those mentors who were accompanying them in making this life long commitment.
I was honored by the invitation to collaborate with this couple during such a special time and I was energized by the idea of creating commissioned art as an expression of gratitude for such special people in their lives.
My friend shared with me a few details that were guiding her vision, she wanted to include the biblical phrase, "I Have Called You Friends" to honor the deep friendships they have formed and she wanted the painting, whatever it might be, to serve as a sort of icon, an image to be "gazed at with love."
And together we started brainstorming. She shared with me a bit more about the people on what she and her partner called their "heart team," a small group of mentors who were accompanying them as they prepared for their commitment ceremony and who they hoped would continued to accompany them as they grew as a couple in the years to come.
We decided together that the painting ought to include and embrace diversity and celebrate, in particular, queer identity in honoring the people on their "heart team" and their diverse identities.
Then my friend gave me the freedom to take the idea from there. I sought out pictures of woman identified and queer identified people of color for inspiration and I found great joy in depicting love and friendship against the backdrop of rainbow splendor.
I had never imagined before the idea of a queer icon, but as the concept emerged I found reclaiming the classic idea of Christian icons to be liberating.
When I shared the final version with my friend who commissioned the painting, she said, "I am just in awe of this piece. I am so happy to just stare at it...It is truly beautiful."
For those of us who grew up in communities that were not open to diverse expressions of gender, sexuality and faith, coming together to support and celebrate one another while also collaborating in making art together, is an incredibly empowering process.
I would not have dreamed up this "queer icon" without my dear friend's vision guiding us along the way and I am just so grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this important gift for such important people in their lives.
“Waking” is a poem about healing. It is about waking from the slumber of denial and learning to honor the pain, rage, and grief in our lives.
It is specifically about trauma healing; the life long process of healing trauma held in the body. It is about the exhaustion that leads the body into depression, like the feeling of waking up tired or sleeping but never really resting.
It is about the desperation and the hopelessness in struggling to imagine an end to the tears brought on by the pain, rage and grief, trying to come up for air but feeling like your drowning.
It is also about the relief of breathing into those newly accessed parts of the body, essential to healing, learning to become aware of and include the pain, rage and grief, so alive in the body.
And it is about freeing, for the first time, the truths we spent so much energy denying, embracing a more whole, more full, more inclusive self-identity.
“Waking” could also mean, “blossoming,” like the Calendula flowers I chose to paint to accompany this poem, set against the background of dawn breaking.
My own process of healing has included learning to love flowers. Calendula flowers were interesting to me at first because of their medicinal properties, but after planting them, I learned to also love their beauty. Now each morning, I take pleasure in the orange, yellow and gold hues in Calendula petals. Each time I open my heart to taking pleasure in their beauty, I feel myself softening, opening, and healing.
My intention is that this poem can touch the pain, rage and grief in your own life and that our journeys towards healing, our experiences of waking, can interconnect and grow resilience within each of us.
I created this piece for those of us who are familiar with the depths of our own darkness.
That darkness can include depression, anxiety, isolation, grief and so much more, depending on each of our own unique experiences.
This piece is also for those of us who are choosing to reckon with our shadow, part of that darkness.
Our shadow includes our own violence, the ways we hurt those around us and ourselves. My own shadow self has been on my mind a lot these past few months as I choose to face the ways I hurt others and myself, a very dark and harrowing endeavor.
I have found that the violent parts of myself are most often revealed in the intimate relationships in my life where I am free to be whole, vulnerably and some times terrifyingly whole.
This piece is a testament to my own journey of reckoning with the depths of that darkness.
It is also a statement of hope that has emerged from the darkness in my own life.
In my art, my intention is to focus on those most marginalized parts of ourselves as well as center those people most marginalized in our communities.
I believe that the darkness present within each of us is at the root of the marginalization and injustice in our society. Our personal violence, I have found, is deeply interconnected with the violence we perpetuate in our families, communities and world.
It seems that facing the darkness in ourselves and our society can overwhelm us or it can empower us to engage healing and growth, a sort of cross roads.
This piece is about choosing to engage healing and growth and the life born from these gifts.
I particularly enjoy the combination of the words survive and thrive in this piece.
The word heal is also intentionally at the center, the bridge between the choice to survive and the opportunity to thrive.
And when I say “I owe it to myself,” I mean that I had to choose to live and heal and grow, a choice made out of love for myself and maybe one of the harder decisions I have had to make over and over again in my life.
The original sketch I made of this piece started with the sun. I loved the idea of painting such a vibrant, color filled sun, full of warmth. And as I reflected on the light and warmth of the sun, I reviewed the writing in my journal from the past few months and found repeated themes of darkness.
I started thinking about the contrast between light and dark and the deep interconnection of the two in the journey towards emotional health.
A painting I made with similar themes for a friend years ago.
And I recalled a painting that I made for a friend a few years ago that also included themes of light and dark. In that piece, I choose to represent the emergence of light through darkness with persons being carried through the dark by the collective power of a million stars. And I started sketching those persons again in this piece being carried through the darkness by stars toward the sun.
I also recently finished reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, which coincidentally has a painting of Icarus on the cover. The Body Keeps the Score is all about trauma and how trauma lives in the body.
One important element of the book is about how healing trauma is an incredibly complex balance between drawing closer to the memories of trauma in order to engage healing and yet not pushing too close to those memories, which could risk re-traumatization. That delicate balance is one I know personally and resonates with my own experience of healing and growth.
As Bessel Van Der Kolk explains, “The challenge of recovery is to reestablish ownership of your body and your mind-of your self. This means feeling free to know what you know and to feel what you feel without becoming overwhelmed, enraged, ashamed, or collapsed” (The Body Keeps the Score, page 205).
The story of Icarus thus becomes one way of interpreting that delicate balance, the sun, a representation of the feelings and memories that can hold the key to our own healing and at the same time the threat of destruction. This reflection is a needed reminder for me of how delicate the healing process is and how gentle and compassionate we need to be with ourselves and others in that journey.
The shadowed figures being carried by stars toward the sun in this piece are a representation of that delicate balance and the process of healing.
Toni Morrison once said, “Once you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”
This piece was created with that intention in mind. I know how empowering and liberating my own healing process has been and am interested in sharing that light and life and growth with others. “Heal and Thrive” is a step in that direction.