I spent time with a friend and colleague, Lisa Cerrina, in her studio the day after the attacks in Paris in November, 2015. My intention for our art making time was: I open to exploring the Paris experience in whatever way arrives for me to be in service to the Source and to understand my relationship to things that seem so far away yet also immediate and even prophetic.
Both Lisa and I work with oil pastels, making marks on paper, a practice known in the Open Studio Process community as Energy Made Visible. This practice requires some force, I must lean heavily on the pastel to make satisfying marks that show up on the brown kraft paper. The resistance of the materials mirrors my resistance to engaging this subject. Standing at the wall where the paper is taped up allows feelings to rise and fall in my awareness. Images, too, rise and fall, becoming layered over with more marks. I make an arcing motion over and over, remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words: "...the universe bends toward justice." The movement soothes me but the pale shape made by the marks seems weak. I make red and black slashing marks in the interior, feeling angry and hopeless. These marks resolve briefly into eyes and a face echoing the newspaper photo of "Jihadi John" I had seen that morning. The words: "change or maintain" arise in my mind as two opposing forces we can give energy to.
I begin to hear the voice of my inner critic: Who are you to think about these huge issues? Get over yourself. The image now looks like a virus with a hairy reach into an arc of light. The words: Holding a space for chaos come to mind. I think of the character of Kali in my novel Cronation, she is a kind of jihadist. I notice a feeling of floating off, losing my ground. The inner critic asserts itself again: Really? In an hour of smearing crayons you expect to solve the world's problems? You're pathetic. I wince and finally remember to ask the image to speak. Silence. Then: There is light in everything. Invite it out of hiding and don't try to do this alone..it should be done in a group who knows they don't know the answer. Lisa and I read our witnesses to each other and a less-than-satisfying session of the Open Studio Process comes to a close.