Even When We Feel Static, Progress Is Occurring

Even though I feel many days that "I got NOTHING done" - I can look back on the last 7 days and know that progress is being made. Artistically:  I was juried into another regional exhibition for contemporary art - this exhibition will be at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN - a jewel of an art center, literally, in the middle of nowhere - but they have fantastic exhibitions and programs.  This is their 10th Annual Regional Exhibition covering all of the Southeastern States. I will be exhibiting SANCTUARY, 36" x 36" x 36", Mixed Media Installation.  Materials: vintage crinoline/lace/wire/bird's nest/robin's egg/kozo paper/ink/encaustic. The viewer will bend over from the waist to look down into the assemblage, which will be installed on the floor. After creating this piece I saw  A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS and I was enamored of the ending where he mentions that the Boudelaire's "found a sanctuary, no matter how small" everywhere they lived.  As a woman/human, I feel I have to maintain an inner sanctuary where I can go - it is where I hatch my plans and nurture my soul.  The second piece that will be exhibited is "MYTH OF INNOCENCE", an altered rubber doll.  9" x 4" x 3" . . . it refers to some personal icons (safety pins) and the idea of our outer shell (here a girl in her "Sunday best" underclothes and shoes) and our inner strength and resilience (the built-in altar). Materials: Found 1950's rubber doll, vintage lace, acrylic paint, liquid lead, acid, gold-leaf, safety pins (represent the "christian" school dress codes which required safety pins in all slits of skirts and between gaping buttons, and to hold down wrap-around skirts, etc.) I would love to hear back from you, my wonderful viewers/readers, what these art pieces say to you, I learn the most from feedback and can never really be offended as I know all comments are useful to my future pieces. So, what do you think?  Do you see any universe symbols that I didn't even realize I used? Personally: The studio is coming along and I only have about 3 more van loads of supplies that my wonderful hubby, Donny, is promising to get out of storage this weekend.  Isn't he gorgeous???? We celebrated our 17th anniversary this weekend, not counting the 1.5 years of living in sin before . . . Here he is on the boat between Murano and Burano, Italy.  Our first day there after about 20 hours of planes, trains & boats . . . Anyway, I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for his belief in me and his support through the college years, the paxil years, the pregnancies (9 mos. x 3 of puking and hospitals and bed rest), births, breastfeeding, and he is always the primary caregiver once he is home . . . he is a catch!  And, no, you can't have him - I am his, he is mine. We don't believe in any of that - you complete me, Jerry McGuire BS - we are each independent beings with our own interests - he plays tennis, basketball, and Tiger Woods Golf on the Wii, and he is a very gifted nature photographer . . . I paint, antique, read, blog, photograph, knit, crochet, bake . . . and we let each other have our own fun and then get together for major fun - together we like to hike, kayak, make up CSI homicide scenes (then photograph them), no kidding, play Wii, scout out waterfalls . . .watch the birds . . . it is a simple life (except for the 3 busy kids!) Work:  so now I am working on 15 ink illustrations for an art history book: Faking Ancient America by Dr. Nancy Kelker and Dr. Karen Bruhn . . . I also created the cover art of some "fake" Pre-Columbian masks.  I am also working on finishing the Vincent Van "Cr"ogh Scarecrow for Cheekwood Museum. I'm busy, but happy.  Spending lots of time on Haven' Kimmel's blog www.havenkimmel.com and then remember I might want to actually post on my own! Here are some updates on the kids: Claire, turning 6 in 2 weeks, is enjoying 1st grade and making many new friends.  She is wild about the new tire swing we hung up in the 300 year-old huckleberry tree we are lucky enough to have in our backyard. Here she is being the main nurturer for SNAPPY, our new, tail-less kitten.  Snappy is named after Lauren's favorite Monday night restaurant, Snappy Tomato, the pizza buffet. Other names we considered: Waldo, Pompeii, Ash . . . Snappy won out.  But Claire and I usually call her "OOpsey!" Dylan, the soon to be 16 year old is  busy taking driver's ed (god save me), ROTC, Drill, Forensics and Latin Club - he is busy!  He continues to astound me with his philosophical insight, intelligence, and purity of heart.  We are blessed to have a gifted mentor for him at his school, Ms. Z, who is always there for him as he navigates his way through an athletic crazed school, below his level teachers and classes and generally helps push him from behind while I coax from the front - two more years and he will be off to college - we have so little time to prepare him for the big world. Dylan also has this great taste in music: Beatles, Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel, Rolling Stones . . . it goes on and on - and he is an actor and even sang 2 solos in the MusicMan this summer at the Algonquin in Manasquan, NJ - I can't wait to see what he decides to do for his life's work . . . we are so proud and admiring. Lauren, 14, has started babysitting and otherwise spends her time on-line, on her cellphone or chattering incessantly to me after school, and to us after dinner, and until we tell her to go to bed . . . she has been doing egg experiments: you soak an egg in white vinegar for 24 hours and the shell dissolves (she can tell you why), then you just have the membrane sack, the whites and the yolk, which you can see, and pick up and it is like jello (don't squeeze)....then you soak it in food coloring water over night and turns that color, but translucent - it is so awesome, she says you can throw it at something and it will splatter everywhere - it is gorgeous and I want to photograph a bunch of them.  Lauren is so gorgeous and beautiful and I am frozen in fear for her in this big bad world. so, we are busy - the kitten knocked over the hermit crab tank, the moles are taking over the yard, I have 52 mosquito bites . . . but all is well in our little corner of the world. sher
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Shaky Ground

written Aug 31, 2008, during insomniatic wakening

There are layers.

My truth is only one view through a convoluted, rippled memory.

As a child, my experiences and observations came with no contextual identifiers.  Even reactions were downplayed and re-assigned in acquiescence to an elder's (church's) desires.

In what format does a child live?  One person's most tragic day could be another's fantasy castle.

Pastelsplitself_2 The fact of some tragedy (ies) does not rob a child of their memorial joy, but it does cast a long shadow on their psychological future.

Sensory triggers are psychoneuroimmunilogical and those re-wired synapses cannot be re-instated to their seminal semantics.

This time of personal archetype development can overrun the soul.  Souls become lost in the netherworld of loss.

While surrounded by birds chirping in the clear blue sky, this, my tattered soul, is grasping at slippery roots to regain a sense of solid footing.

Shall it come to pass?

In my life, moments glimmer with mica-glittered foundation stones, until a new tremor comes along - it is hard to stand on such shaky ground.

What are my "seismic" pre-tremor shocks?

- thick, twisty "devil" eyebrows

- greasy, slicked-back, receding hair

- fishhooks

- knobs turning under a porch awning

- jelly

- banana seat bikes

- flyswatters (especially if shaped like a butterfly)

- keys or money being jangled in a pocket

- creaky swings

- fish eggs pouring from a fresh fish

- black, glossy tarmac from the glare of the sun

- dirty fingernails

- vans with no back seats

- trailers

- pencils

- having my head pushed down

- "Good Girl"

- religion

- blankets too light to feel "safe"

- the urge to pee at night and the danger of going to the nearest bathroom

Raggedy_digital Images:

Image 1 - above - "Split Self", pastel on paper, 32"h x 24"w, 2006.

Image 2 - immediate left - "Your Story Begins At Home", Found Object/Altered Doll Sculpture, Self Portrait, 42" h x 16"w x 17"d, 2006.

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Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part III)

By representing oneself and one's creative outlet, it can be learned to respect others and their forms of expression.  Abuses against others, including animals and children, would be eradicated in general.  In addition, by each individual's ability to self-nurture and self-respect, instances of physical ailments and emotional neuroses will also diminish. These physical and emotional ailments can be directly related to repression and denials which can be expressed and embraced through practicing the arts.  Science has proved through the study of psycho-neuroimmunology that the mind and body are unequivocally connected.  Thosed emotional concerns, which are not dealt with and settled in the spirit, will adversely effect the physical health of the individual.  Conversely, if one is taught ways in which to EXpress them as opposed to REpress, we know that physical health and wellbing will be established and maintained.  Your body is an instrument that sends messages to your mind, illnesses are to be considered wake-up signs and warning signals of underlying emotional concerns. Friedrich Nietzche reminds us that "[t]he role or purpose of art is to enhance life . . . to increase . . . the concentration and force of the vital spirit" (Barzun 123).  By nurturing our creative consciousness, more meaningful and long-lasting solutions will be found for the world's ills.  "Through the arts we learn to see our environment more clearly; to sense its color, song, and dance; and to preserve its life and quality (Panel 3-4).  Our "pursuit of happiness" needs to include our relationships with others and the world in which we live.  The world does not revolve around any human individual; indeed, we evolve within our world. Through the integration of arts in our everyday lives, the world can be changed to one in which full human potential may be achieved.  A world in which every species has an equal opportunity to reach and fulfill their intrinsic purpose of being.  The arts are one form in which humans may be utilized as healers and teachers of the universe. Copyright 1999 by Sher Fick, all rights reserved. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ WORKS CITED AND REFERENCED Ackerman, Diane.  "Why We Need to Play", Parade, Daily News 25 April 1999:12-13. Barzun, Jacques.  The Use and Abuse of Art, (The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1973), Princeton University Press, 1974. Carbonetti, Jeanne.  The Tao of Watercolor, A Revolutionary Approach to the Practice of Painting, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, NY, 1998. Frida Kahlo.  Dir(s) E. Herson, R. Guerra and W. Von Bonin, RM Arts, 1983. Gaines, Susan.  "The Art of Living", Better Homes and Gardens, March 1999: 58-62. The Getty Center for Education in the Arts.  Arts for Life, videocassette copyright 1990, J. Paul Getty Trust. Mellencamp, John and Green, George M.  Your Life is Now, Compact Disc "John Mellencamp", Little B. Publishing/EMI April Music Incl, 1998. Offner, Rose.  Journal to the Soul, The Art of Sacred Journal Keeping, Gibbs-Smith Publisher, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1996. Otto Dix: The Painter is the Eyes of the World.  Dir. Reiner E. Moritz.  Poorhouse Productions, 1989. Panel, The Arts, Education and Americans.  Coming to Our Senses, The Significance of the Arts for American Eduction, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1977. Williamson, Marianne.  A Return to Love, Reflections on The Principles of A Course in Miracles, Haper Paperbacks, New York, NY, 1994. http://vh1.com/insidevh1/savethemus/ . . . 4/19/1999.  Website of VH1 Registered.
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Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part II)

continued from Part I . . .

More importantly than the skills which are applied in our business worlds are the values gained through an exposure to the arts.  Values can be practiced where it really counts for something - in our communities and family relations.  Tolerance of racial and ethnic traditions is required to move our communities forward in cultural and socio-economic settings.  Peace can only be achieved through communication, and the arts are a universal form of communication.  Isadora Duncan has stated: "If I could tell you what I mean, there would be no point in dancing".  The language of the arts can bridge any cultural schism.  Marianne Williamson reminds us in A Return to Love that to communicate is to love and to attack is to separate (160).

Otto Dix, a visual artist who lived through both World Wars, refers to the creative energy as a form of "exorcise"; and Frida Kahlo, another visual artist who lived with physical torments from an accident, stated that painting "purged her memory" and helped her deal with chronic pain and physical anguish.  Eco-psychologists consider art to be an integral form of therapy, one in which our communion with nature may be fully expressed and that our psyches require this communion with nature to effect emotional and spiritual balance for atonement (being at one with nature) in our lives.

Through open mindedness and an ability to express oneself, a generation schooled in the arts will be capable of reaching the peace and cultural acceptance unknown on our planet since "civilization" began.  Only through seeking creative solutions to our differences can we avoid the apparently automatic urge to "bear arms" (emphasis mine).  When an individual is unable to express their confusion and disillusionment with their world in a non-violent manner, we view their expression through violence.  As is apparently the case in the recent phenomenon of adolescent males using firepower to demand recognition and retribution in our schools.  This irrepressible need for attention was obviously not fulfilled in their younger days, they were not taught or given examples of acceptable expression, therefore they need to act out against their supposed or imagined oppressors.  World wars have always begun because of intolerance of others; we are currently suffering the consequences of our own condoning attitude towards intolerance.  One cannot hide these attitudes from family and communities.  Intolerance needs to be recognized for what it is - a sickness of the heart and soul and treated as such.  When words are not heeded, actions will follow.

Once an individual has learned for themselves "non-judgment and patience" (Carbonetti 102) through arts, these same values can be enacted in their families and communities and, eventually, universally.  By learning to express oneself through art so that one might live authentically; and by expressing one's own realizations and manifesting (i.e., making evident or plainly show something) those beliefs, an individual will be capable of sharing with the world the greatest gift.  A human who understands and has experienced their own beliefs can authentically express himself or herself.

Ackerman refers to art as a form of "deep play", wherein an individual may reach balance of mind and spirit.  Having "peace with one's self and the world" is a necessary element of living the human experience in a fulfilling manner.  To choose an outlet for one's emotions, whether it be through writing, drama, visual arts, dance or any other form of expression is to lose yourself in the merging of the creative moment.  By doing so an alternate reality is reached, troubles may be left behind, and an individual becomes the conqueror, creator, invincible; literally - "an ideal version of oneself".

Therefore, children must be given the means with which to express themselves.  Children must view peaceful and meaningful examples of communication.  Our perceptions are comprised of more than the written word; therefore, our training should include other forms of communication.  We express our emotions through body language, visual aids, cadence, and eye contact, and many more forms.  However, rarely do you ever see a curriculum that lists "non-verbal communication" other than sign language for the deaf.  A class need not be so literal, but the attitude needs to be in the learning institution that art is vital to the overall emotional and intellectual development of a child and has an inherent worth in and of itself (emphasis mine).  Art is an essential part of being human and in expressing ourselves as individuals within a larger society.  Only through expression can similarities be identified and those similarities can be the building blocks of a new understanding between cultures.  Art historians have been the major contributors of theological study in ancient cultural beliefs, daily regimes, and historical significance.  It is through their arts that we can visualize ancient Rome, Pompeii, and Egypt.    Understanding of diverse cultures may be reinterpreted into any form of dance, theater, philosophy, poetry,  . . . the list is endless.  Through shared expression a new relationship is born between the cultures and the grand collaboration of peace can begin.

. . . to be continued in Part III along with Works Cited references.

copyright 1999 - Sher Fick, all rights reserved

 

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Why, In Our Current Culture, Bother Making Art?

Throughout human existence, individuals have spoken through their arts. 

By studying a culture’s uncovered arts, we discover clues to their spiritual beliefs, daily lives, traditions, and human relationships - to name just a few benefits.

 

Therefore, artists in today’s world can bring forth these same revelations.  An artist has a chance to make social commentary (to me the most important), statements on spirituality, celebrate life, question the unanswerable, and reconcile their struggles. 

 

By communicating visually, the artist traverses the cultural/lingual divide.

No one needs to know your race, religion, or gender in order to view and interpret your art.

Ideally, art can be the great connector.  I believe expressing yourself also sends energies into the Universe – thus communicating with all forms of life.

 

It is of vital importance to express yourself in some creative manner (all liberal arts are inclusive in expression) in order to avoid repression and illnesses of mind and body.

 

 

 

Written August 2000 for Advanced Sculptural Form, University of West Florida, Professor John P. Donovan’s class.

 

 

 

Post Script - "Note on SOLE MATES, above":

 

 

 

Assignment was for a found object/recycling project: 

 

I utilized junk from the trash pile at my favorite antique/junk store in Niceville, FL - the legs and an old cabinet door was part of my loot.  I wanted to reassign the purpose of objects as well, thus changing a door into a table, etc.  While working on this project my favorite pair of boots literally fell apart while I was working in the studio.  It was a pair of "parachute" boots I had purchased while engaged in 1990 (so they were 10 years old by this time).  I was so mad, they had molded to my feet and were like working in bare feet, but safe!  I was ticked and was dropping them in the trash can (something I would NEVER do since) when I glimpsed some ART? on the sole of the boot . . . I quickly retrieved them and found this amazing rubber stamp design on the sole - in fact it was THE SOLE of the boots!  A gorgeous global map with "leave footprints of peace" or something like that . . .

 

 

 

I had been leaving those footprints for 10 years, completely unaware of my effect on my environment.  It was what we consciously and unconsciously do in our daily lives that effect the world around us. 

 

 

 

I now try to be aware and choose the footprints I leave behind.  I still re-cycle/pre-cycle my garbage, as any view of my studio can attest . . . you NEVER know when you can use/re-use something.

 

 

 

For Art's Sake,

sher

 

 

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Integrating the Liberal Arts, Education, and Human Potential (Part I)

Written April 27, 1999 for Philosophy/Ethics Class, with Dr. Dirk Dunbar, University of West Florida.

If we want our world to be still, gray and silent, then we should keep the arts out of school, shut down the neighborhood theatre, and barricade the museum doors.  When we let the arts into the arena of learning, we run the risk that color and motion and music will enter our lives.

-David Rockefeller, Jr.

By examining the benefits of integrating the liberal arts (theater, music, philosophy, dance, and visual arts) into our educational system, we see that humans can learn to effectively change the course of our culture and environment.  Through directly integrating the liberal arts into our educational curriculum, the enhancement of all individuals will be achieved.  Currently the "arts" are viewed as "extra-curricular" activities, which are not considered essential to a child's emotional or intellectual development.  Required subjects are the "three R's - reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic".  Only if additional funds, volunteers, and resources are available do the children receive the benefit of exposure to the arts.  Yet, "the arts, properly taught, are basic to individual development, since they, more than any other subject, awaken the senses - the learning pores" (Panel 6).

Humans require means through which to express themselves, separate from the written word.  If an individual is unsuccessful in expressing themselves through the visual, theatrical or musical fields, we know that frustrations build up from repression and anxiety - these stresses lead to physical and emotional illnesses.  Art can be a catalyst for filtering and expressing our life experiences, positive and negative, so that one might better handle the future, and not be buried in the past or in negative experiences.  Through exposing children to the act of collaborating with others on art projects (writing plays, painting murals, building large sculptures) they will learn how to work with others.  By working out divergent opinions and ideas, by problem-solving, and by creating their own joint successes - confidence in themselves and other humans can be experienced.  World leaders of today could utilize these same collaborative skills in effecting world peace.  In learning to respect differing beliefs, yet by focusing on commonalities, human potential can be achieved.

Unfortunately, to date, most conventional educators have not accepted the integral necessity of incorporating the arts into the everyday experiences of our lives, "nor as a legitimate part of education" (Panel 6).  By separating the importance of arts from education, the educational community is sending a clear message that art is not necessary for success and wellbeing.  Clearly, the opposite is true:  "Segregation of art from education is unnatural . . . art is indivisible from life and education" (Panel 6).  By providing our children with artistic experiences from their earliest learning experiences we will offer unique ways of viewing the world.  Art teaches diversity, patience, and problem solving; while at the same time motivates the individuals by creating successful experiences which will encourage deeper and further learning challenges.  Direct benefits are currently being revealed:  music study leads to higher mathematical comprehension; dance positively influences physical wellness; visual arts expand problem solving and communication skills; and philosophy teaches tolerance and flexible thinking.  "Art is power . . . it influences the mind, the nerves, the feelings, the soul . . . " (Panel 7, 16; Gaines 58-72, Barzun 21).  As an example, VH1's "Save The Music" program is trying to insure that all children will be able to "expand their brain cells" by being exposed to musical education in public elementary schools (http://vh1.com/insidevh1/savethemus/ . . . April 1999).

 

Once the arts are encouraged and the natural creativity of a child is nurtured, or in essence midwifed/birthed" (emphasis mine), these skills will be carried throughout their lives.  In the professional world, artistic skills are highly coveted.  The ability of an individual to think "outside the lines" (emphasis mine) is beneficial in the technological fields where capabilities are challenged in this constantly evolving field.  Being able to think originally is what sets apart individuals and businesses into the successes of a generation.  For instance, the world would be less enjoyable without the creative thinking of Alexander Graham Bell, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, or Rosa Parks, to name a few.

(to be continued, Part II & III, with Works Cited provided on last installment)

 

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Hiatus Ended

It is unbelievable that I have pulled an ostrich for the last few months. OVERWHELMED would be the only word to describe my state-of-mind. Fabulous things have happened since I last posted . . . 1.   We FINALLY, after 10 months, sold the house 2.    We bought our dream house with an 1,100 sq. ft walk-out basement studio for me. 3.    I am now trying to balance decorating and furnishing the house, pulling a rabbit out of the hat to set-up the studio, settling the kids in school and after-school activities . . . 4.  Maintaining a busy exhibition and commission schedule. Anyway, I'm back.  Ready to conquer the world.  I've been doing tons of reading, researching, sketching, dreaming, sharing, and am ready for several new series of work as a result of this low energy ebb - as is all things, my life is cyclical and I feel on the output upswing! Here is the empty (pre-purchase view of the studio) i.e., my "blank canvas" - still figuring out how to set it up, run some electricity, etc. So I am back in the saddle and will be posting with more regularity . . . For Art's Sake,
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TAKE CARE: The Art, Science and Bioethics of Motherhood

The TAKE CARE Exhibition has found a home on the web:

www.n-cap.org/take_care.html

Please view the exhibition essay by Veronica Kavass, New York Based Writer-Curator, in the Exhibition Brochure.  You may also view the included artists and their websites:

Annette Gates - Kristina Arnold - Adrienne Outlaw - Sher Fick - Lindsay Obermeyer - Monica Bock - Sadie Rubin - Jeanette May - Libby Rowe

Many thanks to Adrienne Outlaw for organizing the critical essay, brochure and website!!!

I'm really looking forward to exhibiting with such a fine group of strong female artists.

 

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Self-Expression in Art

Quite Contrary, 2007 by Sher Fick (encaustic on board, paintbrush)
Creating art is ultimately a healing process of self-expression, self-evaluation, and self-discovery.  Art can be manifested in many ways: writing, painting, sculpting, acting, performing, teaching, and reaching out through charity.  With this broad definition we realize that the mere act of breathing can be considered a form of art.  In our day-to-day communications, person-to-person, parent-to-child, friend-to-friend, and down through the chain of life, we are developing ourselves, which will lead towards a becoming, of our final masterpiece and legacy, the circumference of our human existence. "None of us really changes over time, we only become more fully what we are" (Rice, 248).  Travail and adversity merely proves to our spiritual soul that we are alive, "we bleed just to know we're alive" (GooGoo Dolls).  By experiencing our lives more fully, breathing deeper, feeling more joy and pain; one can begin to have the information from which to draw forth creativity.  By allowing the pain and joy to have an outlet through any form of art, we facilitate healing from the pain and increase the capacity for more joy in our lives.  The roller coaster can peak only as far as it plummets. Any art form is about the self-expression of the artist in question.  While the viewer might find a particular artwork to be morally offensive and degenerate (for instance, Mapplethorpe's photography of young children in seemingly sexually exploitative environments and poses), is it society's job to judge whether "right" or "wrong?"  One can only speak for oneself in these matters.  Such emotionally relative considerations are personal choices and society should trust individuals to decide for themselves - whether they wish to support a controversial artist with their personal funds.  The pursuit of self-release and healing in the act of creating art should never be censored by any society, religion, or political forum.  Only the financial support of such art is a valid concern. By reaching a conclusion that art is a form of expression, a facilitator of communication of human emotion and concern, we see that an entire world is open for interpretation.  Before judging art, you should consider from where the art is coming.  An artist's statement is always helpful in this regard, however, an artist statement is not always provided.  So, then, how do we judge the intent of the artist? One way is to set up a list of assumptions which can be used to fill in the missing information from the artist.  Obviously, making art is sacred to the artist or he/she would not be doing it (I'm excluding commercial/decorative art here, which is produced for the masses as a product).  Also, we know that our forms of communication are reflective of our pasts.  Our language, habits, beliefs, and symbols have to do with our life's journey, so by identifying these mannerisms we can begin to communicate with the artist through their artwork. By celebrating the mere act of an artist's ability to even attempt to express themselves through the visual and audio worlds, we can reach a level of understanding towards the artist.  This is not to be misconstrued as agreement with an artist's style or subject matter, but merely respect, tolerance, and acknowledgment of the artist's human right to express him/herself in the manner in which he/she chooses. Many draw a line when the artist might involve others in their creative process.  If others might be injured (physically or emotionally) through the act of creativity, then we have reached a moral atrocity.  Hitler's form of art, his experimentation with human life, is morally reprehensible, few would argue that fact - it is astounding to realize he began his young adulthood attending art college - unsuccessfully, I might add.  Had he reached a level of self-expression which leads to self-healing, earlier in his life, it is possible he would not have become the monster he himself created. "Human beings casts their own shadows" (Sister Wendy), by accepting responsibility for the creation of their inspirations, by sharing with others an inner doorway into their souls, all artists (all humans) can explore and share spiritual healing and greater joy.  Only by observing other artworks, and continually increasing their bank of techniques and knowlegde, can an artist draw forth additional insights which will increase their own ability of self-expression and self-healing. A true friend is love with understanding.  Art and all of its forms can be considered as friends of our soul's ultimate desire. Works Cited: Rice, Anne.  The Vampire Lestat, quote from character Lestat, Bantham, New York, 1986. Goo Goo Dolls, City of Angels Soundtrack, 1998. PBS Special, Sister Wendy's History of Painting, Volume II (Renaissance Art), 1996.
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Eco-Psychology and its Importance in Creating Inter-World Balance

The greatest good is the knowledge of the union which the mind has with the whole of nature . . . ".  - Baruch Spinoza   By recognizing the inter-connectedness of the human mind/body with the whole of nature/universe/cosmos, humankind may achieve inner balance, physical health, and world peace.  Through the acknowledgment of an inter-connectness with our physical and metaphysical surroundings, humankind will reach and achieve conservation/preservation and provide nurturement to self, other humans, and animals, producing an effect which may reach to the depths of the ocean and rise past the stars. It is by enactment of a reciprocal relationship that our realities shall operate as a whole.  As each part cares and nurtures other parts, balance of the whole is attainable and sustainable.  All beings are irrevocably connected to nature; it is the recognition of such a connection which will instigate the healing process needed to restore inter-world balance. Through a joining together of previously segregated fields (ecology and psychology), ecopsychology delves into the roots of humankind's attitude towards "nature" and "nature's" attitude toward humankind.  By assigning equal weight to each entity, the search is on for understanding regarding the give and take of this previously disregarded relationship by the "scientific" and "religious" communities.  By previously and continously encouraging a separation of science and religion and by segregating separate fields of study within each arena, we are only now understanding that such a disparity has been harmful to the whole.  Modern consideration towards an inter-connectedness in the sciences and ecumenical religious practices has opened the floodgates for a new Zeitgeist to formulate.  This new "spirit of the times" is inclusive of ecopsychology. Several fields of study are inclusive of the broad term of ecopsychology: ancient philosophies, anthropology, architecture, behavorial ecology/analysis/geography, community studies, cybernetics, deep ecology, developmental psychology, eastern views/religions, ecofeminism, ecology, environmental education and justice, evolutionary psychology, horticultural therapy, indigenous world views, mythology, psychoneuroimmunology, paganism, psychotherapy, quantum physics, religious/theological perspectives, spiral dynamics, "Romantic" studies, sociobiology, systems theory, and wilderness therapy.  Many more studies are off-shoots or natural progressions of the above listing. Studies in ecopsychology ask the following questions: How can our sense of self be seen through the natural world and our connection in/on it?  Why do humans seek communion with nature and what do they receive from said communion?  In what ways are humans benefited by contact with nature and, conversely, is nature benefited by human contact? Further delving presents even more disturbing/thought-provoking considerations:  Does our current ideology and our current ways of learning and knowing lead us to a balanced inter-world relationship?  If not, how might we as a technologically based culture adapt our future behavior and learning systems to embrace mutual respect and a healthful relationship within our natural world? To truly embrace the concept of inter-world (all things, all forces, all time and matter) relatedness, one must reach a cognitive understanding of the effects of our current multi-faceted stance:  Our quest for sentience reaches back in time.  Prior to the scientific fields of research, human kind searched the skies above and looked to the seas below for answers to their queries. Levels of existence fight for survival, which implies a revolt agasint physical threats and a questioning of purpose.  Even the "lowly" sea anemone, considered a "plant" by most, can lift itself from the ocean floor and pulsate its form through the water in search of a "safer" location from predators (see, "Life at the Edge of the See", PBS Documentary).  Rather than simply "survival of the fittest," ecopsychology views these acts as deliberate.  Humankind's need to understand and know that which simply is, takes us back to the mythical alchemical snake which bites its own tail (Roszak 2). By accepting that there is more to the self than the physical individual and by recognizing the self's connection as being part of something bigger, one can interpret and understand the "quest" and need for religious/spiritual direction.  The principles of ecopsychology provide ways of the self to understand that part of us which is MORE THAN SELF. Jung's theory of the collective unconscious has been expanded to being part of an ecological unconscious (interchangeable with inter-world).  By maintaining an open and reciprocal relationship with the inter-world, humankind and individuals will experience and maintain physical and emotional well-being.  Such a resolution would cure the collusive madness caused in part by our modern, technologically driven, industrial society. Complexity of nature can be understood through the study of new cosmology.  By answering questions through a relation of inter-connectedness, benefits sought by individual fields can be applied to other fields.  (Such as, researching biographical emotional causes of dis-EASE in the human mind to cure a biological physical ailment). Connected, by Sher Fick (8"w x 16"h) Encaustic, paper, attachments), 2006 By encacting therapies to reconnect the current urban psyche with the repressed ecological uncounscious; by researching and reviving ancient earth cult rituals, wilderness therapies, and so forth, the individual experiences personal and reciprocal interaction within the natural world - thus reintegrating the individual with the ecological unconscious.  Distressed people can easily find surcease in the healing effect of wilderness.  A recent survey concluded that: 16 out of 17 individuals practiced visualization therapy by imagining themselves in some "natural" locations which included: 12 aspects of water, 15 various patterns of sounds of nature, and 1 "silence of nature."  The participants were a diverse group of individuals with varying religious and environmental backgrounds and beliefs.  Yet, more often than not, all sought communion with nature to "quiet their soul."  An additional benefit to literal wilderness therapy is the physical well-being found in exerting our bodies while on our "journey" towards a specific sight in nature.  The psychological benefits of the peaceful environment and the feelings of self-esteem when successfully reaching a challenging location are notable as well.  This benefit in our individual "self-perception" cannot be ignored.  By focusing inward during wilderness therapy we can easily avoid the outer stresses of our daily lives - much in the same ways we "escaped reality" as children. Through the encouragement of recovering children's innate animistic attitude towards nature in our "adult" experiences (by practicing natural mysticism in religion and art) a healthy ecological ego can be recovered and, therefore, nurtured in our youth.  As children, many of us ESCAPED FROM REALITY through play outdoors.  By leaving behind the challenges and responsibilities of home, school, and church, children were revitalized and calmed by their discoveries and interaction within nature.  Nature did not judge them, but became a teacher and care giver.  Children learn sensory truths and connect to a global life community.  Children view nature as "families" and seek to re-integrate and restore balance in their natural activities.  A four-year old child once stated "this baby rock belongs with that mama and papa rock, it got lost."  So, too, has humankind been "lost" from their connection with their earth parents. After the previous principles have been enacted a natural evolution of attitude shall occur.  The maturation of our ecological egos will foster eco-responsibilities which will manifest in our government, society, and personal lives.  Nature is to humankind as our arm is to our body.  Unless one is suffering from a form of autophobia, one does not hurt one's own arm.  Therefore, as we care for, nurture, and feed our own body through practicing autophilia (self love), one should care for, nurture, and feed our larger "world" through biophilia (earth love). We shall at this point, as a joined culture, re-awaken our "feminine" nurturing attitude towards nature and move away from the current "domination" practiced by current political practices, urban development, corporate industry, and religious dogma.  Ecofeminism will grow into a naturally developing occurence.  By balancing the GIVE and TAKE in a balanced manner, the earth and our "universe" shall reciprocate.  The simple act of communicating WITHIN nature - leaving behind less of a human mark than when we arrived - is an act of biophilia. Rather than being an ANTI-industrial/technological theory, ecopsychology is a POST-industrial/technological theory.  By recognizing some of the damage done by our techno age, but lauding the beneficial discoveries,the practice of ecopsychology in our human everyday lives is simply a natural, ideological evolution of human world view. Humankind is enacting the seminal/transitional phase wherein a renewed quest for a re-awakened "search for the holy grail" shall occur.  As our current techno-world emerges from its self-induced darkness of the soul, our collective search for wholeness shall heal the planet, our larger "cosmos," as well as our inner selves.  The denial of the existence of inter-world relatedness does not mean it is not there. In conclusion, Roszak states" "The needs of the planet are the needs of the person, the rights of the person are the rights of the planet" (Roszak 5).  By encouraging a synergistic approach to our life experiences, we connect with the divine and the divine connects with us. WORKS CITED: Cleary, Thomas (translator).  The Essential Tao (an initiation into the heart of Taoism through the authentic TAO TE CHING and the inner teachings of Chuang Tzu).  New York, Castle Books, 1992. Cowan, James G.  Letters from a Wild State (rediscovering our true relationship to nature).  New York, Bell Tower.  1991. Durant, Will.  The Story of Philosophy (the lives and opinions of the world's greatest philosophers from Plato to John Dewey).  Washington, Square Press.  1961. Ehrmann, Max.  The Desiderata of Happiness (a collection of philosophical poems).  New York, Crown Publishers.  1995. Quinn, Daniel.  Ishmael (an adventure of the mind and spirit).  New York/Turner.  1992. Roszak, Theodore.  The Voice of the Earth.  New York, Simon & Schuster.  1992.  Ecopsychology: Eight Principles at the ECO-PSY web page, 11/29/00, copyright 1998. Szymborska, Wislaw.  View with a Grain of Sand (selected poems).  New York, Harcourt Brace.  1995. Zimmerman, M.; Callicott, J; Sessions, G; Warren, K; and Clark, J.  Environmental Philosophy (from animal rights to radical ecology).  Second Edition.  New Jersy, Prentice Hall.  1998.
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Essay: Anthropocentrism v. Ecocentrism

  Left - Ephemeral EarthWork created at Grand Canyon, 2001 by Sher Fick When considering the effects of anthropocentrism versus ecocentrism one must reflect upon societies which based their communal existence on either and compare the two.  We know that originally, all humans were ecocentric in their manner of living in communion with the earth and, literally, worshiped the ground from whence they emerged.  Anthropologists note the major shift from the "earth mother" native cultures occurred when communities became tied to one piece of earth and to agricultural development.  The agriculturalist belief system spread and conquered surrounding societies to fulfill their need for food and shelter. Continuing the agricultural movement has led to the now coined "techno-man" (see, philosopher Sam Keen) who seeks to conquer even the world in which we live.  The techno-men propose ways in which to prevent natural catastrophes (for example, proposing to hang a 2-mile wide mirror in space to reflect the sun onto the ocean surfaces to warm water to prevent hurricanes).  Maybe the hurricanes are Mother Nature's way of getting rid of fleas off her back, a type of population control.  It might be brutal, but so is birth and death, a natural life cycle. While some advances are clearly beneficial to humankind (eradication of small pox and polio for example) and improve our quality of life, it is unknown what the ultimate outcome of technology shall be.  Considering the atomic bomb, which has killed thousands of people and destroyed acres of nature, to be a beneficial technology seems rather ludicrous as the technological aim is supposed to be improving upon nature, not destroying it. It is the man-centered technologist who is making advances without due consideration to the world population as a whole.  It is a dreadful gift to create something which leads to ultimate destruction of any being.  This changes the creator into a destroyer.  If man's legacy upon this earth is measured only by his technical creations, we see that more has been destroyed than "created" in the last two hundred years. An emotional wound is also left by this worship of technology over the natural world.  We view the phenomenon of serial killers and rapists in particular, most who profess a need to "overpower" the weaker individuals in an effort to prove their own superiority.  The belief systems have been inbred from childhood in the grand hierarchy of abuse - - - father abuses son, son abuses smaller children, smaller children abuse animals, so on and so forth, each generation increasing its abuse and victims evolving into abusers.  The grand pecking order of the anthropocentric belief system does not allow for empathy and compassion to any other individual, unless it serves one man's needs, let alone extending to women, animals, and the earth. For thousands of years before techno/anthropocentric man, ecocentric humans inhabited our earth, communing with nature and surviving in a peaceable manner.  Communities moved with the seasons, gathered together when desired, yet left what they did not need.  The Kouri (Australian Aboriginal people) still live today the way they did for thousands of years.  The earliest art known is found in an Australian cave, dating back 14,000 years.  For millenniums the dreamtime tales have been passed down through verbal records, the same manner of building, harvesting and art making have continued unchanged.  Who has the right to say "This is not the right way," certainly not anyone outside of their culture.  Yet they have been dwindled in number down to only a few thousand, pushed time and time again from their ancient lands, forced to live on the outskirts of their sacred earth and ancestral dwelling places, to view in horror as "modern man" destroys the tundra and thousands of its species.  Native Americans have lived this same experience. Anthropocentrism has all but killed out the ancient ecocentric way of life.  Only recently has the negative effects of anthropocentrism (war, bigotry, massive consumption of natural resources, etc.) become apparent to the general public and the positive effects of ecocentrism has made it to the forefront (complementary medicine, benefits of cultural diversity, conservation of nature, animal rights, etc.).  Not until the balance has been reached between the two will the outcome be known. We have the power and technology with which to destroy ourselves and our planet, it is yet to be seen whether or not we have the power and technology to save ourselves and our planet. written March 1999, Ethics Class with Dr. Dirk Dunbar, copyright Sher Fick
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Two Weeks to Sweet Sixteen - Article

In Memory of 1984 - The Year I Turned 16! 10th Grade School Picture in THE burgundy sweater in my bi-level (not mullet) hairstyle! He, N------ N--------, hunk of the school, my best friend's older brother, and my partner in exploratory "making out", asked me out two weeks before my "sweet sixteen."  What would I wear?  How would I fix my hair?  My excitement and anticipation of this new development in our relationship almost strangled the "yes" from my throat.  Maybe he should have waited to ask me - two weeks of torture would give me a heart attack before my birthday arrived. As to clothes - he especially liked my burgundy sweater.  I could wear it with my navy blue wool skirt or blue jeans.  The only problem with the jeans was we both went to a private, "Christian" school and if anyone saw us out and I was in jeans, I would be considered "worldly" and "sinful" [we had strict to your knees girl's dress codes and the boys' hair couldn't touch their collars, etc.].  Also, if he took me somewhere really nice, jeans would be too casual.  The problem with wearing a skirt was that I hated my navy flats; if I were to wear the burgundy sweater and navy skirt, I really needed some sexy, NEW pumps.  If I didn't wear the burgundy sweater, I could borrow something from a friend, but then what if he saw my friend in the same clothes later, he would know I had borrowed it.  Besides, he knew every piece of clothing I owned!  Burgundy sweater and navy skirt it would be - now I just needed money for the new shoes. As for my hair - it was all the style in an 80's bi-level with a curly perm in the back.  I achieved great success with the curling iron in the front and hot rollers in the back.  I would practice the style to make sure it would work.  Or, I could get it cut - but what if it turned out badly or too short?  Better to leave it and fix it as best as I could. With my birthday money from my parents [$20], which I had weasled out of them early, I bought some great burgundy alligator pumps to match the sweater - I couldn't have cared less about getting a special "keepsake" like they wanted me to.  The day of the date:  I had fixed my hair three times - too flat to begin with, too curly the second time, and, horror of horrors, too pouffe the third time.  I had had to tie it down with a scarf for an hour to settle it down! After three hours of preparation (not including the long bubble bath in the morning), I was ready and hurriedly picked up the house - throwing all the dirty clothes in the bathtub and closing all the doors so he couldn't see the messy bathroom or my bedroom (with the mountains of tried on and discarded outfits everywhere, even with my planning I still tried on everything I owned).  Now all I had to do was wait without ruining my clothes, my make-up, my panty hose, or my hair.  I was exhausted! The date, after the excruciating two-week anticipatory phase and endless conversations with every girlfriend I had, finally arrived.  My family was away and there was no one to greet him at the door but myself.  So I did.  He arrived on time - smelling of Ralph Lauren Polo and Trident Original Flavor - to this day that combination of scents makes me weak in the knees. He thought I looked great and I was immensely relieved.  Unfortunately, he asked if he could use the restroom before we left!  Crap!!!  Double Crap!!!  Besides the dirty clothes in the tub, I had left every blow dryer, curling iron, hot roller, article of make-up, hairspray, perfume, and other beauty paraphernalia that my mother, myself, or my sisters owned, strewn throughout the bathroom, including the sink!  I stammered . . . "I guess so, but my sister left a mess".  I let the words trail off. When he came out, he grinned and asked, "How long did it take you to get ready"? "Two Weeks"!  I exclaimed.
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Absolutism vs. Relativism

Originally written January 26, 1999 - Ethics Class with Dr. Dirk Dunbar (Encaustic Painting, "The Word", torn and woven Bible pages, artificial sinew, encaustic, 9"x8", 2007, by Sher Fick) For a majority of issues in our modern day lives, relativism would be the most fair and just form of consideration.  However, when applying the concepts of relativism to our supposed practice of "Separation of Church and State" we see that it has not been fairly rendered.  How can we say we enforce a separation of Church and State when our currencies, court proceedings and even our Pledge of Allegiance refers to "In God We Trust", and so on. This situation calls for absolute policy of Separation of Church and State.  Our country was birthed with the concept that all men/[women] should have the right to worship their god[s], how and when they wanted.  Through the years this message of equality has only been accepted if the individuals recognize the Judeo-Christian of "god." In all fairness to the Jewish traditions, we must say that even that acceptance has limited their rights.  Do they not have to swear "So Help Me God" on the King James Version of the Holy Bible when they testify in court?  Thereby, swearing their honesty and forthrightness on (in their mind) a blasphemous book which declares Jesus Christ as the Messiah? In a country which prides itself on being the "melting pot" or "tossed salad" of international culture, how has this shortsightedness been perpetuated for so many years?  We hear concerns from the politicians regarding race relations, yet no one has been able to answer the concerns of prayer in public schools and other religious related issues.  Courts have upheld a student's right to worship in their chosen manner; however, we continue to have prayers to the Christian God spoken at graduations and other public gatherings. What right do teachers have to force their religious and political beliefs upon their students in the public education sector?  These issues have been volatile, even in our local area, but the issues remain long after the court battles cease. An absolute policy of Separation would take care of all of these issues.  Moments of silence in which all individuals might pray to their god or gods, or individuals might choose to meditate, and atheists can talk to themselves!  Dogma should be left in an individual's mind, in their church or private home or vehicle when they appear in a public, state-sponsored event. An additional concern is the mixed messages our children receive upon learning of the "Separation of Church and State" in social studies and then they stand to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (which did NOT originally have the wording "under God")!  What message are we sending our children by these contradictory practices?  Are we breeding judgmental, close-minded individuals or persons who will dare to "walk a mile in another's moccasins"? At issue in recent years has been the unfortunate fact that certain religions might cause physical harm to those within the religion (i.e., Christian Scientists, Satanic Followers).  This concern is valid and should be treated in the same way as other child welfare issues are dealt with: if it is reported that a child is suffering physically or mentally, the state would investigate and upon proof, remove the child from the home.  The standards of endangerment and human life and welfare should apply, absolutely, in ALL situations. Human beings do not have the right by virtue of their religious dogma to perpetuate pain and suffering on other human beings.  We must strive to breed tolerant, caring individuals.  One manner in which to accomplish this would be to enforce "Absolute Separation of Church and State"; thereby, giving respect to any individual's choice of worship.
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