Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Contemplating Flower Memories

Oh yes! It is the Vernal Equinox. Spring begins today. Hallelujah SPRING!

This morning I am contemplating last night’s online Dance Chapel with Cynthia Winton-Henry. It is on this “mysterious” Zoom platform with Cynthia that we embody our intentions and prayers through movement, reflection, and witnessing across multiple time zones.

Last night’s theme was “flowers” all that they may offer literally and figuratively. How wonderful to be invited to contemplate the flowers in my life that my body holds. Just think of your life time in connection with every flower you’ve come in contact with. I imagine we all possess so many body memories that we are filled from head-to-toe with flowers – a body vase!
EMBODYING FLOWER MEMORIES. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
I was in my mother’s womb when she visited Amsterdam to see the tulips, and I grew up with the photos she took there of the bright yellow, red, white petalled tulips. They are part of me. I remember when I was six years old collecting jars of spent orange and yellow marigolds and later in second grade, scraping my own garden with a kitchen spoon to plant purple petunias because at that time neither of my parents gardened. My father upon retiring from the military planted more than 100 rose bushes in our backyard, and he knew each one of their names. I did too. One season, I gathered multiple 5-gallon buckets of rose petals that I gave to an artist friend who made paper from them. For a couple of years, I worked at a plant nursery in Auburn, Alabama, and lived the life of perennial flowers and herbs. I tended these plants, cut them back, folded them into butters, breads, and teas.

These days after have garden plots in community gardens, I resign myself to gardening in a north facing apartment courtyard. I have tried to grow perenials – day lilies, black-eyed susans, monarda, pineapple sage, coneflower – to no avail. My shady plot of land next to the parking lot does not gather enough sun to propagate flower life of this sort. Instead, I treasure the lantana and butterfly plant that draw in the butterflies. I try to keep alive alfredi greggi to bring the hummingbirds into my life.


I am so grateful to be reminded of the flowers in my life! And to dance on behalf of them. These days, I see most flowers at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and am thankful for an annual pass.

While remembering and reflecting on flowers special to us and telling stories, we were also guided to think about flowers and the simplicity with which they unfold. Cynthia offered us these words from Grace Cooke (White Eagle):

"Flowers do not force their way with great strife. 
Flowers open to perfection slowly in the sun.
Don't be in a hurry about spiritual matters.
Go step by step, and be very sure.”

I find grace in these words. I hope you might too.

So as Spring 2018 unfolds, I will gather more flower experiences and try to remember to dance them. That’s Coffee with Hallelujah! Soul blog with me about your flower memories and being. Do you have a favorite one? Why?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Choosing the Idiosyncratic Language of the Individual

“We must recapture our personal and idiosyncratic language so that we may speak about our personal and idiosyncratic life.” –Peter London

Whenever I begin to feel disheartened about the art I create, I return to Peter London and his book “No More Secondhand Art,” which in 1994 gave me a satisfying explanation of what I was doing with my visual imagery when I read it for the first time. At that time, I had been making art for about six years. Then a writer and poet, I found my metaphors had begun leaping from the page to the canvas demanding to be viewed rather than read. I was transformed from writer to painter.

The intensity I felt to create visual images overcame my fear of making “good” art. I was driven to speak from a force within. This force had no need to conform with social norms and expectations. I became dedicated to the “process” of speaking without developing an attachment to what I was saying when I made images, the “product.” I engaged in this artmaking process without showing my work to the public for more than 10 years.

In this way, I developed the early stages of my own visual language. Yes, when “experts” began looking at my work, they used dismissive words such as “derivative,” and “primitive.” Yet there were others who were attracted to my soul work. I knew even then that I should not be pulled in either direction towards criticism or praise.

I knew I had to speak my own idiosyncratic language regardless of what others were saying to me about what this “language” was or wasn’t. This determination to listen to my “gut,” to “see” my visions, and to “speak” about them how I wanted to took perpetually crumbling courage. I continue to fight the outside critics that summon my inner critic, but I practice “doing” and “making” anyways.

And I look for support from those tribes to which I belong. Thus my return to Peter London in order not to be gagged:

 “There are some disabling myths about what art is, how to do it, what is good art, and what art is for, that have gagged generations, depriving them of a significant and natural means of expression. This is a terrible loss and an unnecessary one. The purpose of this book [No More Secondhand Art: Awakening the Artist Within] is to address that situation and return visual expression as a natural and full language to every person and to enable everyone to employ this means of expression to do what all language does, to speak about the world as it is, and to create a world of our choosing….

CHOOSING THE IDIOSYNCRATIC LANGUAGE OF MY SOUL. The images you see here are pieces of the syntax of my soul. Let me tell you about several of them.The snake in the top image was one of the first "nouns" to appear in my visual work, a result of a series of dreams back in 1988. I continue to "speak" snake in both noun and verb. The four petalled flower appeared perhaps 10 years ago when I began contemplating "choice." I begin with a circle that I divide into four sections, which represent infinite choice of north, south, east, and west. I remind myself of this choice every day. The heart experiencing growth is fairly new, entering my language about 4 years ago. I especially love the "roots" and how I often associate them with my feet. This image is still emerging and growing and teaching me what I need to know. (all art by Hallelujah Truth)
Oh Hallelujah to creating a world of our choosing! Especially in these times of political duress, I know that I can choose to create GRACE from the mundane to the mysterious using my idiosyncratic voice. I hope you will choose to do the same! That’s Coffee with Hallelujah!