NOTES ON PROCESS, part 1

A.

My experience as an artist so far has been that I am led down various life paths, often related to the BIG LIFE ISSUES (marriage, career, friendships, family, health scares for myself or those close to me, minor and major tragedies, national and world events) and make art in response to those experiences. The art isn’t really planned beyond “I think I’m OK at writing, so I’ll study that, and since I’ve studied it a bit, I guess that’s my main media” or “I’m sick of words and need to try to express myself through some other art form so maybe I’ll play the ukulele because it only has four strings so how hard can it be?”

In short: Art Reflects Life.

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Members of Pussy Riot perform at Red Square, January 2012. Photo by Denis Sinyakov/Reuters

But now, in my mid-40s, I find myself wondering if the more meaningful creative path might be Life Reflects Art. Wherein the artist would choose an art form and follow that Continue reading

WISH YOU WERE HERE

After deleting 139 photos of my ex, my photo gallery looks like I’ve only ever vacationed by myself. I suppose that’s sort of true: Me leaning casually against Hadrian’s Wall; me at Edith Piaf’s grave; me, in an optical illusion, touching the top of the Temple of Kukulkan as if it’s miniature and I’m a giant.

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I can barely remember feeling hot that day, in Chichen Itza, or motion sick from the bus ride. I recall those details like an itinerary, like a packing list, like a fact that could also be a lie. Like a movie I once saw while sick with the flu that I later, inadvertently, adopted as a series of scenes from my own life. Memory is like that: Fallible, slippery. Continue reading

SOMEWHERE A TOWN IS WAITING FOR YOU TO ARRIVE

I found a folder of 68 photos, from a 2015 trip to Ireland, on a forgotten SD card. Like finding an old role of film, it turned up some treasures and lots of questions. What is this shot even of? What was I feeling on this day? Who was I, three years ago? So this week’s post is a flash fiction on that theme.

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It’s not this town. And you’re glad, though this town is scenic, sprawling along a mineral-gray lake. The banks are mossy and the sky is pale blue and the hill beyond the village is artfully terraced by ancient people who carved civilization from the land with Iron Age tools. Maybe it was Bronze Age. You should know from all the museums but you don’t know. Continue reading

On creativity, growth, and freshman orientation

It’s the time of year when kids go back to school and people on the precipice of adulthood go off the college — some for the first time. This year it seems like everyone I know is the parent of a 17- or 18-year-old who is starting college, so my social media feeds are full of photos of Move In Day(s).

It’s a rite of passage — one of many that I, a person without children, have not been through.

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Move-In Day, 1948 , from University of Mary Washington

Two things: 1) I barely recall being dropped off at college for the first time. I know my mom took me. I remember she had a perm at the time. There’s a photo of us somewhere and I’m wearing cargo pants. She might have been sad to leave me, but that’s not how I remember it.

So the going-off-to-college initiation is likely more impactful for parents, because the teenager’s life up to that point has been nothing but change, nothing but new experiences. It’s been school and life lessons and body morphing. College is of all of that (on steroids) with different scenery and less adult supervision. Continue reading

The Eye of Hathor (video)

A performance from this year’s Asheville Percussion Festival. Soundscape by Bonnie Whiting, movement by Brandi Mizilca, words by me. It’s a poem about creative work and women’s work and the intersection of the two: the point at which an artist steps through fear to meet a challenge. (At least that’s what I think it’s about — but it’s totally open to interpretation.)

Video and audio by Joshua Messick, live soundboard audio mix by Steve Beatty and Edward Link at Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, video editing by Asheville Rhythm.

Room to bloom: Rethinking Beltane and Fertility Festivals

After I separated from a partner of 15 years and was headed for divorce, I found the return to pagan traditions to be a great comfort. I connected to the cycles of the moon, the agricultural calendar, and my ancestors. I joined a community of women. I rediscovered my sense of magic. But as Beltane neared, I felt outside again. Middle aged, single, full of questions about sexuality and my relationship to relationships (ha!), I couldn’t envision a place for myself in Beltane’s celebration of fertility, conception, passion, marriage, and sex-positive heteronormality.

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Xochiquetzal, left, by Thalia Took, and Artemis by PinkParasol

But, as my connection to the divine feminine and earth magic deepened, my perspective began to shift. Traditions are important, but spirituality is a living thing and, as such, breathes and morphs and expands to serve the needs of its practitioners. Our connection to spirit shapes us, but we’re active participants. We shape spirit, too. We evolve with it and in it and of it. Continue reading

‘Sleeping on Rooftops’ performance, May 9

If you live in Asheville and missed the debut of Sleeping on Rooftops at The ReHappening in March, here’s one more chance to see the show! We’ll be at REVOLVE on Wednesday, May 9, 7 p.m. The show also includes a solo set by musician Sally Ann Morgan.

 

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Sleeping on Rooftops + Sally Ann Morgan (solo set)
Wednesday, May 9, doors at 6:30 p.m. / show at 7 p.m.
Tickets $10.00

Sleeping on Rooftops, a collaborative work of spoken word, dance and experimental cello music, follows the model of the hero’s journey, as explained by mythologist Joseph Campbell. The story is of a young woman who ventures into the world for the first time. The piece was inspired by the collaborations of Black Mountain College artists M.C. Richards, Merce Cunningham and John Cage, and their collective foray into the source of creativity, and it debuted at the 2018 ReHappening.

Performed by: Alli Marshall (spoken word), Sharon Cooper and Coco Palmer Dolce (dance), and Melissa Hyman (cello).

Tickets are available here.