On Liminality

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Over the weekend, I had the fantastic opportunity to take a sneak peek at an exciting new exhibit at our local Museum Center.  A few years ago, through the gentle nudging of my friend Christina, an artist, illustrator and fellow sketcher-of-the-world, I began meeting some local illustrators for lunch every so often.  This wonderful group of story-telling artists collectively keep a blog that gets quite a lot of attention from interested visitors. The virtual space always has something exciting to offer about arty things happening around the city and beyond through the lens of the illustrators’ keen eyes.  Recently, our blog was made part of a grid of local news-reporting by WCPO news, and the illustrators were offered the opportunity to see the mummies exhibit, before it even opens to the public.

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Christina and I enthusiastically took them up on the offer, packed our sketching supplies, and headed to the museum for the morning.

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The exhibit is a mind-blowing collection of mummies of all sorts, not just the traditional Egyptian mummies which come to mind when one hears the evocative word mummy.  There are bog people, and animals, and objects which may have been slated to help the deceased beyond the grave.  There are mummies who never intended to become such, but have, due to perfect conditions in their long lost crypts.  It was utterly haunting.

Christina draws a shrunken head.
Christina draws a shrunken head.
This is my drawing of yet another shrunken head.
This is my drawing of yet another shrunken head.

 

While we were permitted to take photos, per an email from our hosts, we didn’t have the fancy press passes the other visitors had and so we decided to challenge ourselves to rely on sketching only.  It was very dark in the exhibit space, light shining down on the specimens only, leaving very little light by which to see what we were doing.  Both of us opted to use ink to draw.

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It took a few minutes to decide what to spend time with, as sketching is more time consuming than a mere snap of a camera lens.  I myself kept coming back to the mummies of two very young people and decided to draw them.  First this little bundle of a child whose life must have been one of great hardship according to what tests have shown.  He had faced the crippling condition of scoliosis along with malnutrition and chronic illness.  Of all the mummies, this one was my favorite.  So small and delicate.  I found myself wondering what his name was, and who his parents were.  What the breeze may have felt like on his face while he was living.  And now we are left with this mummy.  A shell of his physical self which can give clues to a life lived long ago.

Since it had been so dark while drawing, I finished watercoloring the drawing when I returned home….

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The other child I spent a bit of time with was this one below, from South America.  He or she still had hair on her head, hair that had been crudely trimmed, perhaps to make some semblance of bangs to keep them out of her eyes while she played.  In spite of her mummy-ness, I could still see that her legs and hands had that pudgy quality young children have.  My guess is she didn’t face quite as many hardships in life as the above bundle-child did.  And yet, to die so young….  Tests are still being made on this child to unlock some of her story.  I am curious to know what happened to her.  Was she royalty?  Or sacrificed perhaps to some selfish god who demands the life of a child…  I do not know.

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The visit to the mummies exhibit came on the heels of a visit I had made the day before to my aunt who is currently spending her last few days in hospice-care.  After that tears and laughter filled afternoon, I came home to the news that another good friend is also facing her crossing after long years of living with illness.  It would seem that death is in the air.  I am not one unfamiliar with death or how it comes, sometimes with some warning, other times with a swift cruelty – I have deep respect and regard for it.   I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to spend time drawing these beautiful remnants of a physical life lived long ago.  It would be amazing to go back, with a little more light even, and spend more time drawing.

There is a reverential quality in drawing, that exists in few other activities.  In a small way, the artist steps out of the self and becomes one with the subject.  This can be true when drawing the fleeting autumnal beauty of a fallen leaf, but is exceptionally powerful when faced with a mummy who was once a living, breathing human being.  This exhibit did a fantastic job of creating a respectful atmosphere in which to experience all it has to offer.  I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to see it before the crowds find out how awesome it is.

 

A Need for Slowness

azalea

It’s a gloriously frosty morning down here in this Springvalley of ours.

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The cold seems to have settled in for the season and it all feels a bit early, though I suppose it is November.  This week I dug out the heated waterer for the girls so they have access to unfrozen water, and we are back to our morning ‘oatmealworm’ breakfasts to keep them warm, fed and with enough salt in their little systems.  chicksThis time of year always puts me in a bit of a hibernatory place, in spite of  our culture’s Countdown to Christmas mentality.  I find myself drawn to slower pursuits and am inspired by others seeking the same in their worlds.  Since it has been a little while since I have checked in here at my online home, I figured I’d share a a few things I’ve come across which consider a slower world-view, as well as a couple of updates in studio news.  

Brew a cup of tea, or pour a wee dram of something else to warm you…..

The title for this particular post came from a quote from the above video.  “What we have is a need for slowness.”  I couldn’t agree more.  This couple and their enchanting caravan lifestyle came across my path via the interweb-wanderings and sharings from a couple of artist/writer/performer types upon whom I have recently been keeping a close watch.

Rima Staines and Tom Hirons have crafted a world full of magic and old-world style mystery with their art work, poetry, puppetry and beyond and they are fixin’ to take it on the road.  To live a simpler life in general and to share their artful wares and wonders with folks farther afield than their current home in Devon, England.

Tom and Rima created their crowdfunding video with the help of their uber-creative community of fellow artists.  Their project harkens to a world just outside of the reach of modernity, at the edges of our imagination and land of dreaming.  Hence, their new collaboration has the perfect title, Hedgespoken.  I have made it a point to share their project here and there on my own tendrils of social media because I really believe in what they are doing.  I grew up on the move myself (which is a story for another time and a longer burning fire) and have vivid and beautiful memories of time spent in my grans’ airstream trailer each summer.  Nothing fancy or romantic really, but for me, it was life shaping.

grans

People like Tom and Rima are quietly rebelling against the things that rush our world into the Land of Too Much (be it stuff, to-do lists, etc.) Their theater and home on wheels could possibly slow things down a bit for just a few people along their path, and remind us of the magic to be found in all things, if we but take the time to listen and look more closely.  Hedgespoken is in it’s home stretch of fundraising and I wish them a firm breeze at their backs as they sail on home to port with it.  If you believe in this particular brand of magic, head on over and toss a few coins into their hat.  You’ll be glad you did, as their blogs (here, here, and here) are chock full of fascinating and shadowy paths down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Another delightful bit of sweetness that has come across my path this last week is an interview of a quiet gardener in Ireland named Eimear Moran.  I found her thoughts on finding beauty and synchronicity and yes, the Divine in her own humble back yard to be truly inspiring.  She is another quiet rebel walking the path of slowing down and waking up to things that are in our reach in the day to day.  If, again, we but take the time to listen.

Eimear’s book is nearly available and I look forward to getting my hands on it.  In the meantime, you can keep up with her daily garden thoughts and meanderings at her page on the Book of Faces (I have Rima to thank for coining that lovely phrase.)

With all of these beauty-full beacons to light my own path, I am truly sinking into the season here myself.  My own small crowd-funding project to shore up my residency plans this January in Taos, NM is going well.  I too have a few more weeks to get to my goal and am so grateful for all the support thus far.  Ginger Small and her adventures have gotten the bulk of the attention lately as she is really the sparkly one of the bunch.  But there are also sheep and rabbits coming along with me on this trip.

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Cards are being made of a number of these images, should you be interested in counting a few sheep….foggy sheep sun on foggy sheep

Or channeling your inner rabbit….bunnies

 

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I am having great fun with all of them with thanks especially to my friend Vanessa Sorensen at Nessy Designs. She recently gave me a few pointers in photoshop which has helped me turn some of the mere sketches in my journal into things I can work with in print.  Vanessa and I get together occasionally to sketch and sometimes even to collaborate on a craft project.  The most recent of which is this little wonder of fashion…..

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Part of this notion of slowing down in my life includes activities like knitting, embroidery, printing my own clothes.  Vanessa’s cicada print, my years old skirt and a bit of embroidery to bug out the eyes makes for a wonderful one-of-a-kind fun thing to wear.  And to top it all off, it meant an afternoon spent with a fellow artist, sipping tea and sharing bits of things that had set our minds to wander and our hearts to sing lately.  That is the true gift.  Time Well Spent.

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Speaking of bits of embroidery…..

Bogard_Leviathan_1Leviathan will be on display at the Kennedy Heights Art Center’s upcoming show Imagine, featuring members of the KHAC’s Artist’s Collective.  The show opens November 22.  If you are local here in the Ohio River Valley, do stop by and see us.  Some of my recent skull studies will also be up for grabs…..

unnamed skull study oil 1

What do you do to stem the flow of time?  How do you bring a desired slowness to your everyday?  I’d love your thoughts and links to others who might be in this same camp of Time outside of Time.