Learning to see again. the beauty in the breakdown.

What is mine to do in the world is to awaken people to other ways of seeing. To inspire hope where there is doubt, love where there is pain.

Two weeks ago I shared with you a draft of what will be my credo for life and work, as  I move into a new phase in both. This is the first and most essential statement, so I felt I should elaborate on it. I may elaborate on all of them, but this one is the key.

I have been blessed with an uncanny capacity for optimism, considering the amount of loss and pain I experienced early in life and the opposite nature of my mother. Despite the message that the world is dangerous, people can’t be trusted, and I am not worthy, I always seem to find the bright spot in the picture. I realize now that this is a gift that many don’t share, and could use help with.

We live in very confusing times. We are way overloaded with information, noise, and imagery. It is a wonder anyone can function with the amount of distraction most of us face each day. The way we do it is by tuning out a majority of it, but at what loss? I think for many the ability to filter out the garbage and see what is good is gone, and with it a lot is lost.

I had coffee and conversation with a good friend yesterday and we discussed this. I pointed out the window where there was a row of trees beautifully bursting with white blossoms. So beautiful, but surrounded by a strip mall, highway, cars, asphalt, glass, metal… How many people driving down that road actually notice those trees, we wondered? My friend agreed that this is a problem.

So, when I say it is my work to awaken people to other ways of seeing, I mean notice the trees but also notice what is beyond the surface.

I mention having experienced a lot of loss early on. The year I was thirteen I lost my father to suicide, my bedroom and all my belongings to a house fire, and whatever hope was left in my mother. It was a sad, sad year and shaped me in many ways. I remember coming into the house after the fire and looking into the shell of my room. Most everything was gone, but on the wall were the melted remains of a yellow princess phone dripping down onto the charred carpet. It was somehow beautiful in my eyes and I became fascinated by the beauty in the unexpected.

Birth and death, creation and destruction are what life is, and we need to embrace all of it to live fully.

In 2006 my interest in photography was rekindled in an abandoned factory. This is where my interest in learning to see, and in healing through art and imagery, really began. The striking tenacity of nature to reclaim her space with new growth in the rust and rubble is as beautiful to me as anything.

I take this way of seeing to all I encounter in life now. It is not always easy, but if I try I can see that there is a positive spin one can find in most situations. Where there is not is simply the fact that light cannot exist without darkness; we are both.

Do I have concerns about things, the planet, education, pointless war, social injustice…of course I do. However, I believe that in helping people to see in a more positive way, we give them hope and that gives them power. When we feel powerful we are motivated to work and to change. I believe that art is a means to achieve this. The image with the hand above is an example of how I use art myself as a tool for healing and change. It is art I do just for me, not to sell or achieve any level of expertise. It is raw and intuitive but contains symbols I have come back to again and again.

I am an artist using my hands to show, my heart to see, and my voice to tell.

I believe there is beauty in the breakdown, and I am not alone.

Tell me: What do you think, what do you see?

From the Heart,

18 thoughts on “Learning to see again. the beauty in the breakdown.

  1. Natural optimism is a wonderful gift. I believe it is an under appreciated personal asset but so important for true, joyful living. I am naturally more pessimistic so I spend time each day asking those pessimistic thoughts to step aside and make room for optimism. I agree with you that taking time to notice beauty and the quirky bits that surround us, help our optimism shine through. Beautiful art today.

  2. Beauty, it has taken time for me to learn, is not always obvious. In a sea of pavement and ruin, it may seem absent entirely. But if I look with better eyes, I will find the one bloom that frees itself from between the slabs. And that simple thing can be a greater victory than has been achieved by any army.

    Thx for this post.

  3. Every time I see an article about “seeing” things, especially in reference to art and creative expression, my reticular activating system goes into a sort of hyper-drive. I have to read, and re-read it. As an artist “seeing things” differently has always been one of my leading edges – but, now, as an artist losing her visual acuity, I am forced to see the beauty in the breakdown. The colors are muted, the focus is softer, the lights dimmer – but the most interesting thing is how the shapes become something else entirely – so what the “thing” is becomes less of the point – but how I render it, instead, to reflect the emotion, ah, that’s where the gift lies.

    I agree – there is much to be appreciated but is lost on the noise and there is so. much. distraction. My visual loss is becoming my gift – a shift in perception. Thank you for this reminder that art goes beyond what can be seen.

    1. Thank you Pamela! I wrote a post late last year about what I would do if I lost any of my facilities and concluded I would find a way to create. Ironically it was just prior to a diagnosis that changed everything for me. I can still create, but life will never be the same. It seems you are finding the gift in your challenge too!

      Kudos on this line
      “reticular activating system goes into a sort of hyper-drive”
      Love it!

  4. Firstly, your photography is breathtaking. Secondly, “There is beauty in the unexpected.” Yes. Yes. Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to find, but it’s there, tucked away inside of us. Our little princess phones.

  5. What you express is living in presence, in the now. Accepting what is in the present moment. As an artist that lives and translates her vision, sharing to opportunity see life as it is. Thank you

  6. I think your innate optimism is what allows you to spy those bits of colour that, to others, are not so obvious. I also think that optimism can be learned and nurtured in those of us who are not as naturally gifted with it.

    Thanks for the reminder to look for the bits of colour, Gwyn. I need to see those today.

  7. I am amazed at how cancer has empowered you. You are glowing with your own light making a better world for us all.

  8. What a beautiful and inspiring post – and one that rings very true for me. I’m also a natural optimist, and I have a very particular sense that my innate capacity for joy is a gift that clamors to be shared. Until now, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone else express anything so similar. For me, it’s very clear that this capacity is a blessing, something bestowed upon me not because I deserve it or because I am special but almost by chance, and the single best thing I can do to show the universe my gratitude is to share, and share, and share.

    >>I believe that in helping people to see in a more positive way, we give them hope and that gives them power. When we feel powerful we are motivated to work and to change. I believe that art is a means to achieve this.

    Yes! Yes yes yes! Thank you for your words! You are not alone! I was wondering — would you be willing to let me share this exquisite piece on my nascent blog about creativity and joy? (I’m an utter newbie to the blogosphere and I don’t know how all this permission-and-sharing stuff works, so I thought I’d just darn well ask.)

    >>What is mine to do in the world is to awaken people to other ways of seeing. To inspire hope where there is doubt, love where there is pain.

    This is how I have always felt. It’s so incredible to hear another amazing artist say the same.

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