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.
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.
- thick, twisty "devil" eyebrows
- greasy, slicked-back, receding hair
- knobs turning under a porch awning
- 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
- having my head pushed down
- "Good Girl"
- blankets too light to feel "safe"
- the urge to pee at night and the danger of going to the nearest bathroom
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.
My deathbed wish: To be read to from my collection of books (many of which I have purchased in hardback) - the highlighted and/or underlined text ONLY.
I quit listening to audio books while driving as I have had several near accidents while trying to write down a phrase or wording. Why words at my deathbed, in lieu of visual art? I struggled with the choice to focus on writing or visual art – the visual art won out only because it was more tactile and I have learned to merge my love of both.
Assuming I will be so sick as not to be able to paint (and it is the process I love more than the product) - words won!
3M must be very excited that Oprah recommended the “flag highlighters” – here is a side view of the newest Kimmel book, Iodine. A lot of the highlights are for books or authors she mentioned that I want to research further - I just LOVE how intelligent Trace/Ianthe was, it is that teetering on genius/insanity that intrigues me.
The dynamic of the world of academia vs. the "real" world is another that hit "home" with me - I used to go to college and just immerse myself there - it would be months before people knew I had children (they saw the car seats in the van). I was just so being a student that I wanted those worlds separate. I wanted to focus 100 percent on motherhood at home and 100 percent on learning when at school (I was in college from age 28-38, off and on, finally graduating in 2006, twenty years after high school).
This novel awaits my second reading (I'm still catching my breathe and research on lots of the references so that I can fully take it in). This might be my most "marked" book ever. Need I say more – my loved ones might just have to read the entire novel to me on referenced future deathbed (I’m going to be totally fried if I die in an accident vs. a long, drawn-out illness) . . . I’ll miss so much!
Enjoy (not a slight, but also Endure, Iodine);
It is worth every gasp,
For Art's Sake,
PS Haven, if this isn't your "horror" novel, I have to say I am "afeared"!
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
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,
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)
The TAKE CARE Exhibition has found a home on the web:
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.