The healing power of art and how it informs us

Ancestor Guide

It seems so simple: write an intention, make art, and journal. It may appear to be an easy practice – so easy that you wonder, “Why do it? What could I possibly get out of it?” Well a lot! Continue reading “The healing power of art and how it informs us”

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New and updated classes at Kitsune Community Art Studio

Making transformation happen on the coastside

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41 coastside artists are busily making art right now about transformation. And all these pieces will be donated to raise money for Doctors Without Borders! Check out who they are and read more about the art auction that will be happening this Fall.

http://coastsidedoctorsartauction.weebly.com/artists.html

Altered cultural and everyday objects express liminality

At the reception, I had a few people want to have access to my artist statement,
so I decided to post it here.

photo by Susan Friedman

I dedicate this exhibition, “In Liminal Space”
at Enso Art Gallery 
to my mother Doris Shintani,
and to all beings in the midst of transformation

Liminality: “…in-between situations and conditions that are characterized by
the dislocation of established structures, the reversal of hierarchies, and uncertainty
 regarding the continuity of tradition and future outcomes.” ~ Arnold van Gennep 

I alter cultural and everyday objects to construct stories to reflect our current times and to offer space to ponder and question. These installations are an expression of the ongoing process of destruction and creation.

In Japan, when a woman puts on a kimono it becomes part of her body. Though the kimono appears to be a flowing and simple gown, the layers that bind the woman’s breasts and the rest of her body makes for a very constricting uniform. Breathing is difficult and only small steps may be taken. The restrictive nature of wearing of it is thought to instill tranquility and peacefulness.

As I cut away the red flowers and leaves from the ivory kimono, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. I am destroying a symbol of my Japanese culture. I wonder, who was the woman who wore it? What was her life like?

I cut out the black flower pattern from this used kimono that was gifted to me.

photo by Susan Friedman

The cutting becomes a meditation. I feel a connection to the larger community of women who create and mend clothing. However, I was doing it in reverse…I was taking it apart.

My alterations reflect the loosening connection to my ancestry and culture, and the kimono is reduced to a skeleton, a web. The garment still maintains its elegant and simple structure even after deconstruction. I contemplate making more breathing space in my life to support a simple, healthy, and creative life path.

The kimono installation became a premonition of the Japanese devastation that was yet to come. The deconstructed garments represent not only the personal space but also the liminal space where the transformation of tradition, culture, and structure takes place.

This is the first kimono I cut up. I meditated on the loss of connection with my ancestors and culture

photo by Susan Friedman

The altered umbrellas question our concept of safety and shelter in a world of seemingly unending disasters. I long for an uncomplicated time when holding something over our heads protected us from what fell out of the sky.

The “Pearls Left Behind” installation created out of pizza rounds, conveys the connection of two war times – America’s war with Japan in the 1940’s and the current Iraqi wartime. Both of these events resulted in racial profiling, prejudice, deception, and death. Does history repeat or does it simply rhyme?

The “Vision Quest” ladder reflects my optimism that this threshold offers opportunity for evolution of human consciousness.

I hope my exhibit at Enso Gallery stimulates contemplation and discussion. I welcome your feedback.

 photo by Susan Friedman


Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Half Moon Bay

I came upon the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Catholic Church grounds in Half Moon Bay. I wanted to find out more about this celebration and goggled it. Here is what I found.

On the morning of December 12 in 1531, a poor Aztec Indian man named Juan Diego rose, and made his way through the hills to Mass in Mexico City, as he did every morning.

Juan Diego was 57 years old, a humble and devout Catholic in a still largely pagan country. As he walked the familiar path, Juan thought about his family, his work; and he said a prayer for his sick uncle. Suddenly, he heard beautiful music and a woman’s voice calling “Juan, Juan”.

Read more here.

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New power plant at Half Moon Bay landfill turns methane into energy

Just saw this on InsideBay Area:
The Ox Mountain landfill is full of oddities. Goats graze along a fresh green hillside in the hulking shadow of a flare stack, which burns off the garbage-fed gasses that lie under the grass they’re snacking on. A few steps away, in an uncovered portion of landfill, plastic shopping bags blow through a ravine that offers a pristine view of the ocean.

Watching the landscape from a certain height, it’s easy to miss the thin orange wells that do one of the most important jobs of all: mining deep stores of buried garbage for methane and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions, which are then flared off before they reach the atmosphere.

But it’s hard to miss the shiny new plant built at the top of the landfill. Starting this spring, the gas it collects will leave the landfill in the form of electricity — enough to power as many as 10,000 homes in Palo Alto and Alameda.

When it goes online in two or three months, the plant, recently completed by Ameresco Inc., will be able to capture and convert more methane than any other Bay Area landfill. Its six engines will operate 24 hours a day and generate up to 11.5 megawatts of electricity, more than twice that of most local landfills, which produce about 5 megawatts. Read more at: http://tinyurl.com/9qo786

Gifts of peace are worth seeing

You can still see The 2nd Annual Doctors Without Borders Silent Art Auction at MCoffee in Half Moon Bay until December 29 at noon. At that point the bids will close. We are at around $1,500 so far, up $500 from last years event. Even if you are not in the market for art, please go take a gander at this terrific showing of 21 local coastside artists. Most of them took on the challenge to create a new piece over 30 days which focused on the idea of a “gift of peace”. Below you will see an art sampling slide show.

And just to give you an idea of what your donation to Doctors Without Borders can buy:

  • $35 buys 2 meals a day for 200 children
  • $50 buys vaccinations for 50 people against meningitis, measles, polio or other deadly epidemics
  • $100 buys infection-fighting antibiotics to treat nearly 40 wounded children
  • $500 buys a medical kit containing basic drugs, supplies, equipment, and dressings to treat 1,500 patients for three months
  • $1000 buys emergency medical supplies to aid 5,000 disaster victims for an entire month

Kids and seniors create their own story

If the slideshow stops, click on the “x” in the circle in the upper right corner of the show.

Well what a fun and creative blast we had! I recently facilitated an Inter-generational Art class with Coastside Children’s Programs and Coastside Adult Day Health Center.

Why intergenerational art? I think it is important and therapeutic for different ages to have experiences together. In order for communities to be whole, they have to have respect and understanding of all its members, no matter what their age. And with our current lifestyles, many of us are miles away from our families and do not get a chance to be with our different generations. My parents are in Nevada and my mother has Alzheimer’s disease, so I have compassion and understanding for families in this situation. When my mother was living closer and at home, she and I did some art together and it allowed us to communicate in a whole new way and in the moment. I really wanted to bring this intergenerational experience out into the world.

The process – Like when you bring any kind of group together, everyone was a little shy at first, but once we got going the markers and pastels were scribbling with vigor. First we sat in a circle with interspersed seniors and kids, and did introductions. Everyone announced their favorite color and I think blue won as the most popular. Then we passed a special talking object, so when it was their turn, each person contributed to a story we made up together. I really wanted to create something together in the here and now. That way no one had to remember anything since we were making a new story. If anyone got stuck when it was their turn, some one helped out with an idea.

Communication was an issue we worked with. One of the centers assistants reminded me to speak loudly so all the seniors could hear and Emma from the children’s group did some translation into Spanish so everyone could understand and contribute.

After we finished with the story, I read it out loud to the group and then they started drawing. We made sure all the characters and activities in the story were in the drawing. The canvas was a large white paper which was taped on the round table. As the large communal art piece developed, it became a mandala of intergenerational creativity, a mutual story of their own.

The seniors asked the kids about some of their drawing and they responded with pride, explaining their art. Some of the seniors and kids worked together, each drawing their own versions of some of the characters and comparing them.

At the end of the hour, the Coastside Children sang “itsy bitsy spider” in English and Spanish, as a thank you to the Seniors.

To finish the story mandalas I added some stitching along the edges and wrote the stories in a spiral for the centers.

Here are the two stories created by the kids and seniors:

THE SNAKE, HER FRIEND, AND THE ELEPHANT – Once upon a time there was a big storm and it was very rainy. A little snake and her friend named John woke up in the morning and looked out the window. They saw an elephant in the front yard. The snake and John took the elephant to the hillside to eat some grass. The sun came out and so did the flowers. They were pink and purple. They picked some flowers and took them to grandma’s house. She opened the door and said, “Thanks for coming to see me!” Grandma cooked them up a bear. It was so salty; they had to drink a lot of water. Then of course they all had to use the potty. It was time to go, so they put on their raincoats again and ran outside. Next the snake and John and the elephant went to church to say some prayers. After a long day they all went home to see their mom and dad, who took them inside and put them to bed and everyone went to sleep.

PANCAKES AND MORE PANCAKES – Once upon a time there was a horse named Charlie and he had a pony friend named Michael. They woke up and had pancakes for breakfast and went out to have some fun. They played and played with a big green ball. After awhile they got hungry again and gobbled down some carrots. After their snack they went over to Adult Day Health Center to visit everybody. Charlie and Michael drew some flowers and some birds. Then they galloped over to see Dolly and she cooked them up some more pancakes, this time with yummy syrup and hot chocolate. Charlie and Michael heard a noise up in the sky and ran outside to see a butterfly. “Hi butterfly!” they neighed. Now it was time to go home and rest. “But, I don’t want to take a nap!” said Charlie. So Charlie and Michael played and played soccer till the sun went down. And now they were tired.

Here is the format I used for the storymaking:

Once upon a time there was a _________________named_________________ and he/she had a friend named_____________. They woke up in the morning and _________. They looked (up or out the window or where ever makes sense with the developing story and saw _______________ so they______________. ( Create the rest of the story and blanks to help develop the storyline.) Then they went to visit, etc ________________ and had a, or did  ______________. They ______________ and saw _____________. It started to get dark so they________________________. On the way back they ______________________. Why don’t we _____________said__________. So they _________.

Keep in mind you want everyone to get at least one turn to add to the story. While the story is developing write it down, so you can read it back to the participants so they can visually create the story.

Contact me, Judy Shintani, for more info on this project. I am available to facilitate Inter-generational art projects, children, and senior art classes in the SF Bay Area or can travel to your location.