Couldn't help being overwelmed by the media reporting on the (nerve gas) poisoning of Syrian civilians. The Rottgen Pieta came to mind, apparently in an expression of grief. Sometimes we can't really comprehend a work of art until we sense the emotion with which it was originally created. So here's an ugly, painful, overworked creation that also includes appropriated imagery of Syrian mothers and their children and a barely visible portion of the Scream by Munch, intertwined in a very distorted tree that I admire. I imagine I will continue to rework/overwork this one, as there is no other way to free those sweet baby faces from my mind.
Just wanted to share this lovely who appeared to me yesterday on my hike. She looked like she had been whirling around in all her grandeur when she came upon some chaos and had to go into battle. Yet, she still stands determined, sprawling and reaching in all directions soaking up the sun while her roots plunge into the earth (finally) quenching her thirst. She reminds of a strong woman who battled with the world... she's messy and broken, yet absolutely glorious in her beauty and strength.
I am blind, and yet I still hope to see
It's one of those times where images and ideas pile up, and never seem to sort themselves out at the end of the day. The above is evidence. I imagine though, it is a reflection of the chaos of the times. Each day we are hopeful that some sense will be made of it and life will fall into place, allowing some encouraging light to shine in illuminating the purpose of it all. But, these days the light isn't showing up---buried, snuffed out by the ugly chaotic darkness. I don't mean the lovely darkness of the night. I mean the darkness, airlessness of being buried alive in this earth. Strangely, I know once I can get all this dirt cleared out of me and the suffocation gives way to some air to inhale, we'll crawl forward, brutalized, yes-- but alive.
The layering piles of appropriated imagery above are women. Women we all know, Mary, the Mother of God, refugee mothers, ancient goddesses, women hidden in Burqas and the synthetic, manmade female lacquered perfectly shiney for men and their followers to consume.
I fell in painful love with the following poem by Warshan Shire. I imagine this is the experience of so many. It is mind-boggling to me that while mothers are clinging to their children on a raft at sea, others prefer to go underwater and muffle all that noise so they can simply consume the plastic, manmade drama on the screen before them.
"Home" by Warshan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here
Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet, writer and educator based in London. This poem was found on seekershub.org
The world took its toll
And grabbed flesh and blood from her
Until she was near gone
the current dragged her
on the other side of light and air
In the cool blue pool
Face down where the river sleeps
St Francis and the Peace Prayer
Strange and lovely how certain ideas and thoughts come into focus and show up repeatedly in a variety of contexts seemingly at every turn. Is it a divine message, a sign, a simple coincidence, or just a mathematical likelihood... Are you awake and listening? Are you aware or under murky water---head in the fog?
Ah... but the fog, quiet without all the distracting details and blinding light and noise, gently guides in seeing those overlooked subtle layers of presence. Allow that drizzle of hopefulness...
There you have been in my garden tending the birds and flowers-- unnoticed for so long, and over there a small icon from Assisi overseeing my home, another appearance in my imagined creation for my Dad's 75th birthday gift, and then in my keepsake drawer I notice you on the back of my beloved Grandma's final prayer card, and suddenly the begging by the angst-filled world repeating your prayers for peace all over social media, and again and again
The Peace Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Yes, of course, I do see you and now I remember... you've always been there.
I keep grasping at time
yet the light dims
and she won't stay
and the full moon rises
the waves come rolling in
burying the day
until I can see no more
yet the tide surges
days where all was given
but it never really was
always a bit in reserve
she knew there was beauty
in the ugly
and in the empty
cracked wide open
that could swallow her up
but no one saw
and so she felt
and then she didn't
in her sorrowful tale
Must have wandered off the path
as nothing makes much sense
more shadows than light
more dusk than dawn
and tomorrow's dream
appears near gone
Admiring these roots,
along this woodland path
wherever nature pulls
deep into the dark earth
crawling into her womb
all the while supporting growth
that towers above
reaching for sunlight
Seeking water and life below
growing in all directions
Obstacles are mere moments
as stepping stones
simply seeking and breathing
light and water
Once upon a time
She whispered a thought
in my mind
and then I had a glimpse
of that dream
bout being lost
in a memory
in that deep inner well
when I slept
still felt the shadow
pass me by
as the clouds hid the sun
so I stole a breath of air
and went to say my good byes
I could no longer stay awake
so I had to simply close
these tired eyes
Been underwater for awhile,
not in a cool and refreshing way
deep dark water
with a sandy, murky bottom
heavy free fall tumble
no sense of up or down
until knees scrape the sand
heaviness holds me under
dark and murky
so very very heavy
in the distance
rays of light stream into the water
illuminating tiny particles
in their own universe
just out of reach
the current let go her grip
finally a slow float upward
head above water
a breath burns
and the light blinds
like an old dream
and my memory disappears
in the dark water
forest at my back
standing on that bluff
bringing your mist inside me
seeing to the edge
where the sky catches the water
beautiful deep clear space
quiet eternal rhythm
breeze and rolling tide
Every time she wakes up...
Last sad morning---of vacation… Open days of gently wandering from one intention to the next. Spacious, temporary freedom.
These are my first thoughts while separating from my warm ever-so-lovely bed. Although I am not ancient, I am old enough to feel the pain of age creeping upon me. Old bones, overused joints aching with my first morning movements into my day.
As I took my first steps out of bed in the darkness I saw glimpses of the confused life worn man with his dirty, callused fingers frozen, under a mound of trash-picked blankets shivering below the overpass.
I saw a girl wrapped tight in a fetal position on the dirty mattress dimly lit by a barred window.
I even saw the long forgotten mutt chained in the backyard in the sub zero cold.
Although I savor my lovely bed, I think of those who slept out in the cold. I think of those who had a night of abuse and violence. I think of those who tried to sleep, yet the night gave way to that empty gaping hole in their heart from the loss of the one they loved.
I think how thankful I am for such simple comforts of a warm bed and vacation days where I have time to ponder and reflect upon my gratitude for these luxurious blessings. Oh my bed is wonderful.
Mostly I remember to offer up prayers for those who suffer. Strangely, their suffering makes my blessings more glaringly apparent. It’s cosmically mysterious how this works. Although I am not experiencing their particular injustices and suffering, and I have all the comforts I need, I experience an aching in my soul for the suffering in this physical world. I guess as long as there is pain and injustice it is felt by all in some manner, at least by those who are conscious.
I do pray to a God I believe in—--who is LOVE, for the comfort of those suffering. I pray for those to be filled with warmth and light of LOVE... to be covered in peaceful grace... So as to gain some relief from their pain, and to know the light of hope, that the pain is fleeting, although I know when living it, the pain weighs physically eternal.
I pray that I know for at least this minute I’m not overtaken by that semi filled with pain and heartache—but I know it could be just around the corner. I am thankful.
see where it takes me
What hinders love---What hinders life… these things I ponder
Working towards some ideas for this new year… NO resolutions, just realizing some aspirations=unhindered creating
It’s been awhile due to being buried by busy-ness, but also in all honesty-- perfectionism. If there is not a complete thought to convey or something perfectly beautiful to share, then the many shreds of dirty laundry pile on, and well, so does my day---and then of course my life.
So this idea is to perhaps to chip away at this perfectionist creativity killer and just make and write. Let the process be it---rather than viewing the work as it must be perfected and clear and complete otherwise let it float away with the other thoughts, ideas, life.
So today, it is simply thoughts on gratitude, life’s injustices, and why I allow the petty to usurp so much of me?
Currently I am bogged down by work obligations, yet so thankful for my job and the energy and life of my students. I am far away from letting that part of my life go.
On my want to try list is mixed media---which I am in the process of as I write. I keep mulling ideas related to my creative process. Am I making for an example to guide my students, am I making to meet the visual desires of a client, or am I making to simply make---to go with the process and see where it takes me? A stumbling block is trying not to wreck the work in process, but I remind myself most works are failed end products destined to be deleted or boxed in a cabinet. The process is part of this mountain I climb (and actually my life). I need to remember to accept the idea that creating truly is a journey. A lesson learned from an unsuccessful work might get me through a problem in the next.
Creativity killers: perfectionist voices, ADD=flitting/flashing mental distractions which technology has had a steroidal impact, petty dirty laundry to-do lists. And, not to mention the attention starved puppy pawing at my computer.
So, here it is, some of my messy writing and a morning in my imperfect life. If it’s not nailed down, then more dust in the wind as the Eagles put it.
And, I didn’t even get to the injustices.
In this new year, I will try to let go wherever I can.
Found this lovely gem in Sue Monk Kidds’ When the Heart Waits recalling a quote from Celie in the book The Color Purple by Alice Walker:
“One day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed.”
And so, Celie's words reminded me of my connectedness and vessel self...
In the dark
by this tragic world
buried and held
inside of me
stitched tightly closed
across my core
under this high tide
pull of the moonlight
keeps me seeking
in a breath of air
inside behind walls
and binding chains
barbed wire is like a vine
slowly wrapping around
outside light and air
hover like a dream
is one I go to often, it's hard to describe in words. In fact, I think I've made an earlier attempt at it--but words don't seem to grasp the undefinable looming energy that is present here. I walk miles of trails in this wilderness park and always start and end here. The path is covered by a canopy of old Live Oaks. A few fallen rest like masterpieces in a sculpture garden reminding of some ancient memory. Most are standing in their wild writhing positions alongside a creekbed revealing their roots to me. Those tangled roots plunge wildly into the earth, chaotic--yet still the underlying structure of what hovers high.
Regardless of the time of day, the light filters through their cover, awakening my eyes and soul to an inexplicable feeling of awe. Grace looms large and heavy here. If I could only carry it away into the otherworld of daily life with me...
I'm here, but these voices have been silenced by busy-ness.
I've been thinking about visual voices--mine aren't so much, when I can't get them nailed down and on the page. They float away and fade, trampled into dust by all this busy-ness and daily chaos.
Like so many ideas, Maya Angelou wrote it perfectly, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I'm grateful she took the time to get those voices in her head on paper. Her voice sure speaks to me.
This image is along a road in Indiana that is my favorite place to walk. It is a quiet place through the trees where the seemingly divine light streams through the leaves. Grace fills me here.
Human Heliotropism (Jung) =True Self seeking light
Although Eve's mind was darkened by what she desired,
the eyes of her soul sought the light that she was told would dawn upon her,
enlightening her path through the shadows of these woods
"I am the supreme fiery force who kindled every living spark. I flame above the beauty of the fields. I shine in the waters. I burn in the sun, moon and stars. With the airy wind, I quicken all things. For the air is alive in the greening and blooming. The waters flow as if alive." Excerpt from: Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard Von Bingen, by Mary Sharratt pgs. 49-50
Sometimes it feels the “Dark Ages” cycle has returned. That near thousand-year period seems to lie under some dark veil, buried in a cursed fog. Yet, underneath the layers of filth and evil are buried gems. Covered in dirt and grime, these gems managed to survive. Hidden jewels still glimmer dimly like colored light struggling to pierce through a gothic rose window, or like the quiet thoughts of an imprisoned Hildegard in a medieval cloister. Those thought and light gems, through soulful determination, still survive. These glimpses of light endure, inspiring hope. Reminding to keep moving, toward that faint glow at the end of the tunnel. That illuminated refuge may take a thousand years, but I still hope and look for it.
sometimes I can feel the whole world
the heavy weight of it
and sometimes I know deep in my soul
it is but a drop
in all the ocean
Jesus: "Do you see anything?"
He (Blind man) looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Mark 8:23-24
These words jumped out at me many years ago, like I discovered a secret clue buried in ancient biblical text. It made me realize—again, it feels I am only seeing a veiled version of perceived reality. As I walk and hike along these trails like a spectator in the Louvre, these tree forms and textures draw my attention. I continue to take picture after picture trying to capture not just their outward presence, but the enigmatic energy in the atmosphere as well. It reminds me of standing in a soaring gothic cathedral, seeing the cut stones stacked towering impossibly upward, by craftspeople who may not have been able to simply read. Yet, these holy structures still stand monumentally making their mark, reminding of that sacred place hundreds of years ago.
As I walked through this particular grove, there were many trees attracting my attention. Several were gathered together as if a family gathering had been frozen into wild writhing sculptures. Like the cathedral and the added dimension of jewel like light coming through the stained glass, the sunlight through the leaves and limbs added to the ethereal atmosphere.
This Sycamore was one of many at the gathering who appeared to look like a tree walking around, reaching upward towards the heavens. So, maybe I am still the blind man. I will continue to keep trying "to see."
Dec 21, 1934.
My Dear Little Son-
This I learned from the shadow of a tree,
That back and forth did sway upon the wall,
Our shadow selves, our influence, may fall
Where we may never be,
I recently put together this work. Multiple inspirations. During this time of the year in California autumn leaves abound. I find myself constantly looking at the colorful leaves. As I write there is a tree outside my window flashing a colorful exhibit of deep dark reds that only a tree in the Fall can accomplish. Fall is the only season I miss of the Midwest---well Spring is pretty amazing too.
So, I actually did some "perfect" leaf hunting in my yard and neighborhood. I explain, to clarify my obsession. This leaf I felt was the perfect color and shape, but had bird poop ruining it... further evidence of this craziness... I had to clean the leaf before using.
I found the poem above in an old autograph book of my grandfather's. The handwriting that I layered into the image was written by my great grandmother to him. The photo in the bottom corner is of them both. I placed all of this on a photo of a road alongside a cornfield leading back to one lone tree in the distance. I tried to bring all the elements together as a visual revelation of passing time and lives, family and memories, and the influence and characteristics that continue on into another's life which are further shared and carried on.
This work I especially connect to for numerous reasons, not only do I see the metaphor of a tree, roots, branches, leaves as family generations, but also as my role as a teacher to thousands of teenagers over the past decades. To have found this poem by my great-grandmother that references a tree and shadows, and the idea of passing influence was deeply poignant to me. I may be a bit more moved during this nostalgic time of the year, but I must say it is a period of profound gratitude. Gratitude for my roots--my family, but also gratitude for those passing shadows I've encountered in my teaching career.
I'm grateful to recently have had a couple dozen students come and visit before our break. Some from just finishing their 1st semester in college to one who was finishing his PhD. in chemistry to recent notes of gratitude from those married with kids of their own. It is a blessing for me to see them spring off into their hopeful futures, but remembering their small roots with me. It is a strange thing to me that a person's act of gratitude and acknowledement fills the other so fully.
Clearly, by no means am I a poet, but I put a few words together awhile back at the end of the school year that expressed my view on so many of my students---and children. I am grateful my passing shadow was able to fall on a few if only for a short while.
Out of the nest, with your wobbly wings
Awkward, flailing around in a squawking panic
Crying as your mama hovers anxiously near
Trying to get you to just flap your wings
Wings are waiting, strong and ready
Find the courage in that little beating heart
Start flappin those wings
and feel the air below
Soar freely, above it all
Fly little bird, fly
This is a Looking Up view along one of my hikes. This image was found off the Umpqua Scenic Byway in Oregon. We had just driven around the rim of Crater Lake and drove the scenic route to the Pacific Coast. I had seen some beautiful pictures of Tokatee Falls online, so I decided this path was a must to venture. While my husband napped in the shade recuperating from panic attacks caused by driving a trailer around Crater Lake, I wandered off into the forest to view Tokatee Falls. And, as it seems often happens, alone on the trail in the forest I became very aware of the wild beauty carrying on in this lovely place. I found it difficult to capture the thorough essence of a place like this--off the beaten path without any other humans tramping around. Just the deep green woods with heavenly rays of light illuminating my journey. The hike was only a mile or two in, but it took me a while because I couldn't stop trying to capture the light and shadows through the leaves and on the trees. This abstracted view gives a better idea of my experience than what was actually recorded in pixels. Kind of mesmerizing and golden, like a shower of grace.I figured I should show my destination, Tokatee Falls, Oregon. Stunningly beautiful with a view from a platform high up in the trees. And next, one glimpse of a lovely old tree hovering over Crater Lake--on which the drive gave my husband great angst--for good reason.
This image is my latest creation. The work has multiple inspirations coming from varied sources. It begins with my love of patterns and quilts which influenced the format. This love of quilts grew out of my upbringing, often by my grandmother who was a wheelin' dealin' antique dealer. Her home was a constant flow of the old and handmade.
Another inspiration is my oft-repeated theme of trees and leaves. Currently my vision is in OCD mode with the beautiful autumn leaf colors that seem to be clamoring all around me. I find it mind-blowing how one Crepe Myrtle or Amber Gum tree is a whole universe of artmaking in and of itself. When I start searching for the "perfect" leaf---seemingly always out of my reach, I end up having taken 100's of images… each leaf being its own amazing creation. Yes, it’s crazy but it is as it is...
Then of course, the tree thing... These particular images of a Live Oak grove show what I consider a magical---it even feels like an almost sacred place. The shady path is such a quiet, spiritual realm its difficult to articulate. It seems like a spiritual vortex of sorts. Of course I've never experienced a "documented" vortex, but this is what I would imagine it to be... I feel some sort of energy/presence/past history along this path. It’s a place that makes me mindful and present and aware. When walking this path it seems I'm walking through a clamoring family gathering of the old shady trees all in their various contortions. There are two bucks who roam there, squirrels, blue jays and ravens amongst the many creatures who stare at me as I wander through. I have taken a good thousand pictures in this space attempting to capture the vibe/essence, but never fully capturing the depth and spirit of the place.
Finally, the added imagery of Mary and the influence of Medieval nun Hildegard Von Bingen piece... Mary of course the Mother of God; The ultimate compassionate spiritual being. I found this image of her at a historic church in Old Town San Diego. I admire the Virgin Mary Guadalupe, an always colorful version of the vision. Connected to this colorful vision, including the radiating mandorla is my intrigue of the visionary medieval nun, Hildegard von Bingen. The illuminations either created by her, or perhaps a medieval interpretation of her visions are very mandala like and provide a female connection to God in an absolutely Patriarchical existence, makes me believe in this miracle.
So…this is my attempt at communicating all these connected layers and realms into one unified visual thought.
So... this blogging idea has been haunting me like a dark shadow looming. I will start small. Just a thought or two as to why, why so many damn trees? There is no clear answer except in my pictures. Some of these trees and groves I have taken pictures of over and over again attempting to capture what I see--and perhaps communicating my experience in their (the trees) presence. They seem to have so much history. They are there, present---seemingly watching all this craziness around them. Just watching, like some wise old elder who has lived her life and observes knowingly as we trample through our own.
There. Finally, a speck of a blog.
Coming out of the art-making closet and into the digital universe...Hello and Welcome to my etsy & virb shop!
I appreciate you taking the time to look at some of my photography. It’s a bloody miracle that you found me buried deep in the mountainous digital dogpile. I am in the process of creating this shop and will be uploading more as time permits. Most all work is customizable regarding size and surface finish. Please email any questions or requests to email@example.com.
Clearly I am new at this… the name reveals my lack of understanding all things search engines, PR, marketing and much more. Regarding the name “Lookinforlight,” it is in fact what I do out there in the world. Photo of course means “light,” and I like the ideas and symbols related to the word “light” especially in terms of being illuminated---heart and mind that is. I admire light’s transience---it is there, but often fleeting. Light illuminates and enlightens; it seems to attract and guide my eyes. When it’s not there, I’m lookin’ for it.
My work is somewhat diverse as I am visually intrigued by a variety of imagery that I see out there in the world---and some I don’t (see, that is). My early work with film was often focused on capturing ethereal images using infrared film. I am very interested in attempting to capture the varying perceived levels of reality. Infrared film is sensitive to light wavelengths that aren’t visible to our eyes, but are there. I loved the surprises that my film would reveal once processed.
I find myself drawn to certain images again and again. During pregnancies and early baby-raising years I was completely enthralled with most anything TREES. Leaves, roots, textures, colors, but most of all-- writhing tree forms. My students and kids good-naturedly refer to me at times as the “treelady” (amongst other titles). I realize it may seem strange---and it is, honestly I was (and still am to a certain extent) always looking at and admiring trees. And yes, I often see humanlike forms and qualities in trees. There are tree eyes everywhere if you pay attention. So, often an emphasis on trees, which when I attempt to psychoanalyze seems to have something to do with my interest in what trees often symbolize such as family, ancestors, life cycles, generations, and the ancient past.
I am very interested in ancestor and family photos. I create family montages that attempt to convey those in my past and their lives and relationships. I’m interested in the generational continuum and how traits carry on in our lives even after our loved ones have passed. We carry their genes and continue to live out their traits, which become ours and pass along onto the next generation.
I have been able to give a little more time to my vision and all that is amazing around me. I enjoy walking and hiking in nature. I know many view images of nature as mundane, perhaps even cliché---I get that, but I have to follow my path and currently it’s on seeking lovely light---often in nature. I love light coming in at an angle, dawn and dusk---and diffused, so you’ll notice a repeating theme in much of my nature works. It seems like we often don’t notice things around us when are heads are full of the busy-ness of life. I love to walk and see what is existing---waiting patiently, quietly around us that most often goes unnoticed. Some of these images/places/scenes seem like a living, breathing presence whose depth is beyond a 2-dimensional capture. But, I keep trying.
Lastly, as I start to notice patterns in my work, I see my attention given at times to what appear to be visual metaphors and/or found juxtapositions. Often I find them humorous and odd in a visual and intellectual manner---so I shoot them ;)
I understand that many don’t see this place as I do. I encourage my art students, to appreciate each other’s unique vision and perception and chosen path to communicate. I am thankful we are free to make and create as we are uniquely inspired and driven. Thankfully we are not mandated or controlled (as in the past and currently still in some places) by the church or government, upper class or other powers that be to create to their demands. I appreciate the freedom I have about what marks I choose to make in order to communicate my mind and heart about where and who I am.
So, if you happen to be wandering around out there in the seemingly infinite digital universe and you miraculously stumble upon this little etsy storefront, I hope you take a moment to see what I see.