Resilient Fox

These fox bowls remind me of my daughter Anna. She is 
sometimes fierce and quick, other times cautious and quiet, 
always witty and clever. The fox character first showed up 
in my sketch responses to LouAnn Shepard Muhm's poem 
Litany. Litany is about hope and resilience, and the fox
has come to represent resilience, to me.
That this counterfeited window may allow the scent of sedge. --LouAnn Shepard Muhm
Today, I am thinking a lot about resilience, what I wish for
all my loved ones in the face of life's disappointments and
difficult challenges.
When you are truly doing something new, something that
doesn't have a recipe or formula, it takes resilience through
the fear and uncertainty. "Hope begins in the dark, the 
stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the 
right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and 
work: you don't give up."  ― Anne Lamott
Writers and artists know this--our gifts are meant to be
shared. To hoard and hide our gifts is cowardly. We know
our gifts for words or images aren't truly realized until shared,
and possibly help others. Anna, a voracious reader and aspiring
writer, understands this."When writers make us shake our 
heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, 
and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our 
buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, 
or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead 
of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing 
on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the 
raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits 
of the people who are together on that ship.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

That we may gaze out from our husks, toward the greening promise. --LouAnn Shepard Muhm


After Reassurances

Our first exhibit of Reassurances is done. Some takeaway points:

 1. Most things are more than worth the wait. Here I am seeing the exhibit for the first time at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, relieved and grateful that LouAnn and I didn't drop the ball over the last four years. Thank you to Jill, Brian, Nancy, the entire Cedar Crest Art department, driver Chuck, students, staff and administration of Cedar Crest College, and photographer Tom. They all made us feel welcome, even though our zealous Minnesota hugging habits surprised a few!
2. Community engagement connects us in unexpected and lovely ways. Fellow artist, Minnesota native, and Cedar Crest Art professor and department chair, Jill Odegaard, led a community engagement project in conjunction with our exhibit. 100 college student and staff bowls, made from paper pulp, clay and mixed-mediums and inscribed with their own writing against fears, were on display in the entrance of the gallery. Most of the bowls were created by students for art courses, but a few were created by college staff. Students started with an online Skype writing workshop with LouAnn, and then made bowls. Later, Cedar Crest staff were invited to participate in bowl-making too... bonding ensued. And, we're told, the closing reception was more highly attended than usual. A student shared with us the story about how she got to know a staff member from another department at one of these community bowl-making workshops, and they were excited to find out just how much they have in common and exchanged phone numbers. New connections that may not happen otherwise--this was a whole new scale of collaboration for us, and we thank Jill for teaching us more about it! (NY Times article, The Art of Community Engagement.)
The crowd ready to hear the artists speak.
The students were so proud and excited about their own bowls.
Cedar Crest student and staff bowls by the entrance of the gallery.

Me, speaking with my hands, or perhaps trying to form a bowl out of thin air!

 LouAnn and I, relaxed and already percolating more ideas.

3. Walk into the the unknown, carrying your fascinations and obsessions. For me these doors-within-doors paintings provide a balance to the exhibit. They are still pretty new to me, but the theme of our artists' talk turned out to be "There is not a formula for collaborating or making art, but pay attention and don't ignore the natural progressions and obsessions that keep showing up in your work, thoughts, and path." Doors, like the sheep and pears in my past work, could be cliche symbols or powerful personal metaphors. The 'door within the door' in these works relates to really paying attention to the beauty of the every day--the subtle, hidden door within the door that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Displayed curved from the gallery wall, echoing the curves of the bowls.