Art entered my life in 2012 when my dear friend Vickie of miss vickie music asked me to produce a dreamcatcher for an indigenous month in November filled with events in different venues on Main St here in Beacon. The late Rainbow Weaver and I both produced dreamcatchers for the event, hers hung in a gallery and mine on the wall of the Bank Square patio. My dream catcher was given back to Earth hanging on the back catcher fence at University Settlement. Rainbow Weaver’s dreamcatcher still hangs on the wall inside the Education Center at Sargent-Downing.
What does art mean to me? I can recall when Marc and I made our great migration north in 2006, I wanted to give up writing and become a visual artist. I had read Carlos Castaneda and he mentioned thought without words and I still don’t know what it means. Or in this moment, perhaps it means the quiet mind of meditation. I was reacting to the limitation of words and how words have been used to categorize and label people forever locking them into imagery that brings them harm and degradation. I hated words then, although words have been my art since I became self aware at twelve years old.
Living the simple life I have the great pleasure of studying whatever I want. Using the library to find origins that help my empathic self make sense of this challenging world. I borrowed Art Through the Ages by Helen Gardner from another good friend, Betty Harkins. Of course art begins in ancient cultures, then catalogued and categorized by the Europeans who give us the great Renaissance and Elightenment movements. Art having crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa 8000 - 3000 BCE around the same time writing evolves in the Near East (Western Asia) influencing the “comparatively backward region of Western Europe, still Mesolithic and Neolithic.”
Art is a departure from words for me. Perhaps it is the thought without words. In any case, obviously I am back to writing, but I do have visual art to share. I am a writer, I’ve always been a writer and always will be a writer. I have committed myself to writing in 2019. The writing fast proved fruitful, I now have a relationship with visual art. When I have writer’s block I will break out the acrylics or pastels or watercolors and dance across the page.
A Dreamcatcher is traditionally made with Willow branches so I head out into the wilderness to harvest Willow (Salix alba, Salicaceae, Tree, Europe, W. Asia). Our Turtle Island variety is Salix discolor, the true Pussy Willow occurring in wet areas in Eastern Turtle Island. Willow stem bark is a painkiller, a fever reducer and an original source of salicylic acid for aspirin. In 2012, I was wandering the lands of my new home just before sunrise. The dreamcatcher turned out to be 5’ x 7’. I also gathered Walnuts to dye the string. Walnut (Juglans nigra, Juglandaceae, Tree, Turtle Island). There is also an English Walnut, Juglans regia, also known as Persian Walnut. Walnuts reduce cholesterol, and are added to salad and sweets. In China the nuts are used for wheezing, back and leg pain and constipation. I initially made a small dreamcatcher that just broke and I dismantled it recently. The small dreamcatcher gave me the confidence to approach the large one. The work immediately became a meditation. Thought without words as I weave the string across the ring. The Willow branches are fashioned into a ring. The string is then weaved from different points to form a web. Dreamcatchers are hung over one’s bed to catch bad dreams. I recently noticed I have two beautiful dreamcatchers that hang from my bedpost just above my head. I must have gotten them around the same time. Beads and feathers are woven in as well. Art, thought without words is ringing true in this moment. Mediation. Silence. Departing from the limitation of words into the infinite. Art.
I discovered my Arawak-Caribe cultural heritage around 2010. My mother’s sister, Auntie Pat had always said we were Amerindian and when we moved upstate, Spirit told me to find the natives. I had my first indigenous event in 2010. I understand why European Americans want to hold on to that heritage because whenI discovered I had returned to the region of the world of my cultural heritage, I felt immediately at home in my skin. One generation out of our Caribbean Motherland and we have the opportunity to return home. The problem the European American must face is that this is not your home, however deep in denial you are. Your home is Europe and always will be. You are the First Peoples of Europe. And though you don’t mind continuously destroying the lives of the First Peoples here, Turtle Island will never be your home. You are a conquered people oppressed becoming the oppressor, but we, the First Peoples will always rise and RESIST!
It is delusional to believe that you have created civilization. Evolution has created civilization and you have co-opted all you call culture from black and brown people. Numbers, religion, spiritual practice, commerce, machines, all co-opted in the great march of evolution. We are. There is not I, no individual. It is we interconnected and woven together through the Spirit that runs through all things. No superiority, no exceptionalism, WE.
Harmony with All. Tolerance, acceptance, allowance. We are all allowed. One big human family. Our differences make us strong and dynamic. We are bored with black and white, heterosexual, Judeo Christian. Let’s blend everything else to release the magic of being human.