A mosaic of stones, coins, and jewellery had been growing in our front garden box since May, but it wasn’t until late August that the idea for a heart border took root. Heart-shattered by the hatred in Charlottesville that led to death of Heather Heyer on August 12th, gathering these shards and bits of ephemera into a positive shape helped raise my spirits. A couple of weeks after the August mosaic-shaping, I was in the process of adding more buttons and beads when my neighbour and her four young daughters came over to look at the garden heart.
Hoping that mosaic-embellishment might be entertaining for the children, I entrusted them with my box of decorations and went to fetch some glue. I was very grateful for the girls’ collaboration, for thanks to their sowing of beads, bedazzling of flowers, and gluing of googly eyes, the heart mosaic became more alive. Before taking off for a dinner engagement that evening, I went back inside the house to gather more supplies and offered them to the girls for their own outdoor art. By the time I returned from the outing, a box of soil containing the gorgeous composition below was sitting on my neighbor’s lawn.
The following morning, a Saturday, the outdoor mosaic theme continued to evolve with the same box showcasing a new arrangement and the words Peace and Love.
The children’s artwork affected me deeply, and I found myself wishing its creative faith could dissolve destructive ideologies once and for all. What if a box of dirt, flowers, and love could reach people like the 45th president who lean dangerously towards fascism? No matter their current spiritual condition, a Peace and Love Art Box could remind them that once, long ago, they might have lovingly spelled God’s name on a leaf with glue or promoted peace with pebbles, paper flowers, and pennies.
What stops humanity from planting love instead of hate when heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, Medgar Evers, and Heather Heyer paid for Love’s truth with their lives?
Although pennies are no longer in circulation in Canada, the forest economy is different. Last May I found a 1978 Canadian penny on the forest floor of Serena Gundy Park. I shifted it to a curved patch of moss for a photo and left it there.
Two months later, I followed the same trail, and to my surprise I saw a penny in almost the same spot! It was a different one though, stamped with the year 2007. It rested just beside the moss patch, possibly nudged from it by a curious animal.
Thank you, mysterious hiker, for creating an anonymous penny exchange! If I had had a penny with me, I would have extended the game. As it was, I took a picture and let the coin remain there for the next pair of wondering eyes.
Peace Flow emerged in August of 2016 as part of a Journey Dance dedicated to peace led by Shielagh McGlynn.
Sheilagh, Cate Laurier, and I started the piece at The Inner Arts Collective, and then I took it home to fill in some spaces and add finishing touches.
A year after Peace Flow was completed, Sheilagh felt called to offer another Journey Dance for Peace, and I joined her at Pegasus Studio for a reprise of the beautiful music.
A collage session followed the dance, which gave us a chance to catch up as we tore and cut selected images. We had an especially good laugh over using alphabet stickers to spell “Booty” in honour of what Macy Gray had encouraged us to shake in her song “Beauty in the World.” (The vowels e, a, u in the alphabet pack had been used at my last collage workshop, so two o’s were pressed into service to spell booty/beauty).
As time was limited at the studio, the piece went home with me for some additional work. In the process, a peace bird, a river, a dream fish, and a feathered dancing figure appeared on the circle of green paper.
Peace. Divine. Booty. All one for a harmonious planet!
On February 28th, I facilitated a collage workshop for Centennial College’s 2017 Teaching and Learning Symposium. In this one-hour session, I invited faculty to experience collage-making from the perspective of post-secondary students in the classroom.
Working individually and in small groups, nine participants gathered and arranged images to illustrate Centennial College’s vision statement: “transforming lives and communities through learning.” The resulting visions-of-the-vision-statement beautifully express what transformative learning means to our community of educators.
Near the beginning of an extended walk last November, I became transfixed by a tall flapping windsock outside a bakery. I ended up taking over seventy pictures of the wind-animated figure, and each one had a different pose. It was like receiving a free art class on the topic of gesture studies!
It’s astonishing how expressive fabric can be when it composes a long tube for the body, two hollow arms, and a head with strips of black cloth for hair. The different angles of the head and arms as well as various bends in the body’s “spine” gave strong impressions of joy, fatigue, despair, sass, embarrassment, playfulness, surrender, overwhelm, triumph, and humor.
I managed to reduce the number of pictures by more than half, but I still need to ask viewers’ indulgence for the quantity of images posted here. (Sending a big thank you to Veronica Paloma for her thoughtful comments on these photos when I first posted them on Facebook last fall and for providing ideas for the titles “Bliss Float,” “Cheerleader,” and “Responding to the Latin Beat.”)