To Create or Create for Change….That Is The Question

“An artist’s duty as far as I am concerned is to reflect the times…”
(Nina Simone during an interview)

On this site we often talk about encouraging and inspiring individuals to create, but the question of whether or not to create has several layers.

Will you create?  Or will you create in order to impact change?

Will you use your body, your movement, your canvass, your camera lens, your pen, your voice to bring attention to the urgency of the now?  This question was inspired by this video in which Nina Simone talks about the duty of the artist to go beyond just creating…

Dr. Cornell West: Lessons from An Open Love Letter

Approximately 15 years ago, Wildly Creative co-founder Shanta Lee saw a poster for American social activist, author, philosopher, and intellectual Dr. Cornell West at Trinity College.  She did not attend that event but regretted not taking a chance to see him speak.  Just days before Valentine’s Day, last week on February 11, Shanta witnessed what she would call Dr. Cornelle West’s open love letter for the times.  These are a few of her insights as they relate to creativity and leading a wildly creative life.

Last Thursday, I saw Dr. Cornell West at Smith College and the earlier quote reflects my experience during that presentation.

While Dr. West said many things that resonated, one of the main threads was about a legacy of individuals (past, present, and future) he titled as Love Warriors. In reference to this particular group of individuals, Dr. Cornell West stated,

“What motivated these folks was such a profound love that they are close to the edge of their own lives…”
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So what if we remembered that love was supposed to flow through all of our creative adventures?

While this may seem obvious, I want you to take a moment and think about that last time you had an encounter with creativity that felt or tasted like love flowed through it? When is the last time that you crafted (either a drawing, cooking, perhaps putting together an outfit, the architect of an event, or anything) and it felt like it flowed from the very core of love beyond anything else?

In a global marketplace that often feels like creativity must have a price tag or be purchased in order to have value…it is easy for the love to get lost.

There were many other sage moments and words from Dr. West’s speech, but a couple of statements stood out most of all,

“The condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak.”

“When you decide to be an activist, you decide to be on intimate terms with catastrophe.”

Going by the title of creative, one who crafts, or artist is also an invitation to contribute to the narrative of truth especially when suffering (either individual or communal) needs a canvas. In reference to the second quote form Dr West’s talk, living a creative life, especially in certain environments, can be considered an act of rebellion or activism. The creator or artist can take it a step further by choosing to make their work an illustration that invites us all to come to terms with the catastrophe that just is.

Will you choose to become intimate with catastrophe or use that which you create as a way of inviting others to do the same?   Most importantly, will you remember to let love pour through any and everything you create?

 

Wild Adventures & Projects: Diving Into Deeper Selves….A Sneak Preview of Fragments

This is a sneak preview of a project involving a partnership between two friends and the co-founders of Wildly Creative,  Mynah Marie (Singer, Songwriter)  and Shanta Lee (photographer and writer).

The Beginning of it All

It started with a conversation across computer screens in the middle of the night in late August 2015.  The conversation was between Shanta Lee on American shores and Mynah in Bombay  amidst words, passionate talk, and laughter…. Mynah started to unzip sharing an epiphany that punctured the night and was the beginning of something stating…

“I am not one but many…”

And she continued, “Everything makes sense now that I understand that. My personality is fragmented in such ways that in one body I actually contain a variety of characters, each with their own belief system and functions. Some are male, some female, some are even androgynous, even their age varies… It’s very trippy, almost like having multiple personality syndrome.”

When asked about her female/male polarity she said: “You know what it is? I need to have my masculine fall in love with my feminine….”

Photo Credit: Shanta Lee
Photo Credit: Shanta Lee

Mynah’s Male Alter-Ego, which she affectionately calls ‘Mino’, is one of the protectors of her primal feminine fragment. I wanted to know everything about ‘Mino’, what he was like, how he came about, and how he engaged with her other selves.

“He is short tempered and can seem very rude and even mean but in a boyish arrogance kind of way. When triggered, he can become a bully with aggressive tendencies.  His main purpose is to protect the primal feminine when she is in freakout mode because the primal feminine is a pure receptor who is too sensitive and overwhelmed by the energy she is receiving to take her own defense.”

Shanta Seeing Mino

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Photo Credit: Shanta Lee


“When I photographed Mino, Mynah ceased existing in that moment and all I saw was him.  As I observed Mino in my mind and with my camera lens, Mynah’s words stayed with me like a secret inscription…..”I need to have my masculine fall in love with my feminine….”  Was this true for myself?   Did we all need to to find our “Mino” to protect our feminine?  Was this true for everyone wishing to connect to a partner outside of themselves or even seeking any connection in the world?  Do we first need to merge or unify the opposites within us?”

Photo Credit: Shanta Lee
Photo Credit: Shanta Lee

 

Mynah Marie and Shanta Lee will be sharing more of their dialogue and exploration of Fragments throughout the year.  Stay Tuned!

A Story to Re-Weave the Patterns of Family Trauma Eila Kundrie Carrico: Part 2

This piece is an excerpt from our full moon contributor Eila Carrico’s new book, The Other Side of the River: Stories of Women, Water and the World.

As she falls more and more in love with her mushroom boy, she feels a tension between keeping the will of her parents and following the dream in her heart. Holding this internal conflict and keeping her love hidden makes her ill. Her father, already suspicious, insists she stay at home through the season. Reina misses her love with all her heart, and she puts the fullness of her emotions into her weaving. She leaves nothing out, bringing together wild oranges and dark greens, lonesome blues and luscious purples in her great story tapestry. She recalls the animals and the forest where she used to walk, and she puts all of this joy and beauty into her work. After some time alone with her weaving, she hears the unmistakable voice of her love. Her heart jumps with delight, and she sees her mushroom love peeking in through a crack in the window.

The lovers continue to meet in secret until Reina’s heart is ready to burst open. She can hold the secret no longer. And so the two finally decide to run away to the great unknown land of her mother Ocean where she hopes her mother will be empathetic. Reina uses the tapestry she had been weaving as protection over the two of them. She wove beauty, innocence and love into the threads of her work, and because of this had created an entire universe with her weaving. The result was a magnificent coat of fullness that blended into the very fabric of the world. In effect, it was a coat of invisibility, and so that night the two lovers covered themselves in this magical coat and ran away toward the Ocean.

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During their flight, they are hidden from the Mountain by the cloak, but Reina’s father is furious and his emotions cause a storm of relatives to rise from all directions. The two continue their flight to the sea as the wind howls, rain falls, trees crash and thunder booms nearby. The two lovers, against all odds make it to the beach, and their feet step into the Ocean on the sandy shore, but suddenly Reina is gone. Reina the river has been scattered in all directions and no longer exists. The mushroom love is confused and lost, unsure of what happened or who betrayed them. He mourns her in every cell of his being.

The forest withers, the flowers fade, and the animals turn to skin and bone. The little mushroom is immobilized with grief and almost dies. All of creation cries over her death, the world dries up, and life refuses to go on for hundreds of years in this unimaginable drought. But time is their only friend, and finally, after lifetimes of grieving, her sweet mushroom love finds a brief moment of shining hope that is born from a drop of water at the bottom of his heart and begins to sing Reina back to her home inside the mountain with the help of the rest of the wild creatures.

His heart is so sincere, he eventually wins even the assistance of her parents, the Mountain and the Ocean. The drops of water come from tears, clouds, dew, stardust and every memory of love and beauty from every corner of the universe to gather inside the mountain and become Reina. It takes cooperation, patience, devotion and time, but she is brought to life. Reina eventually re-emerges in a burst of fresh life from her source in the mountain, and the world is able to continue on with beauty, magic, joy and love once again.

Back in Tohatchi, I watch the sun rise over a long horizon and inhale fully: I once was lost, but now I am found. There is a different promise that comes from a sun that rises slowly over the mountains. It seems to promise enough of everything in that day: enough time, space, food—all is taken care of. The mountain trusts the sun’s warmth, and so do I. The clouds stretch wide like pulled-out cotton balls, and the water tastes crisp with the piñon nuts we gather.

My understanding of hope, my way of practicing being found, is a return to empathy in action. My dad and I took turns maintaining the fire in the minus zero weather because each of us valued the life of the others in the house. Too often in modern culture we are removed from the effects of our actions. The priest ranting about original sin in San Diego may not realize how his narrow, judgmental dogma shrinks the psyche of our planet. He does not see how missionaries in New Mexico robbed the Navajo of their language and their way of life and brought them to a poverty that forces them into mobile homes without heat.

My family and I are little better, we pretend we are separate when really we are two streams of the same river. We see ourselves as individual agents in the world, selfishly thinking of our own gain all the time, refusing to kindle the inner fires of the hearth to connect in compassion. We as a culture of relatives suffer because we isolate ourselves. We do this in our families first and then in the world, and we may be killing our chances for survival on this planet because of this profound disconnect between ourselves. We need to braid ourselves back together, a new weaving that invites our differences to remain distinct even while we enter into relationship with one another. Reina, the sweet water, is a master weaver because she uses all the threads of life and creation. Her cloak is magical because it contains every color and brings them together in a constructive relationship. The maiden rejects nothing in her artwork. Braids, tapestries, and currents in the river show us the way again and again—it cannot be one clear way or another, it has got to be both ways and together.

More About Eila:

Eila Carrico is a weaver and wordsmith who delights in the mystery and magic of landscapes and memory. She grew up in rural central Florida, and was inspired by her studies in journalism, anthropology and religion to travel around the world and teach in Paris, Ghana, Thailand and India before settling in the Bay Area in 2008.  Check out more of her work at:   http://www.eilacarrico.com.

A Story to Re-Weave the Patterns of Family Trauma Eila Kundrie Carrico: Part 1

This piece is an excerpt from our full moon contributor Eila Carrico’s new book, The Other Side of the River: Stories of Women, Water and the World.

The last time we visited the Navajo Reservation was just before I moved to California in 2012. My dad and I flew out to Albuquerque and rented a green Ford truck to pass Tohatchi and enter into the forgotten lands of the Native Americans. Most of the inhabitants live in trailers or mobile homes without heat and running water, but everyone I met called me sister or daughter. The roofs are covered with old tires to keep the heat in, but there’s always enough food for guests.

The temperature was hovering below zero degrees when we visited. My dad and I slept in the living room and took turns tending the fish-tank sized wood-burning stove every hour or two all night to keep the trailer warm. We slept in sleeping bags on the floor and shared our boiled eggs with the stray dogs in the morning. We chopped firewood from up on the mountain for most of the afternoon. At night we enjoyed filling dinners: deliciously greasy fry bread and fresh lamb and corn stew, while our host Tommy told stories about the turkey who saved all the animals from the flood or the coyote who got stuck in the stars. I decided to share a story of my own that had touched me deeply and cooked internally long enough for it to change me. And in turn I changed the story.

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The Birth of Reina is inspired in part by my reading of Martín Prechtel’s The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun. I imagine a wide re-interpretation that shifts the main female character from a passive to active agent in her destiny, liberates the mother from her role as captor, and encourages death to be seen as part of an endless cycle of rebirth.

On one level, this story is the story of a family that gets caught up in shoulds and restrictions and forgets the power of beauty, love and magic. It is a story about losing what is most precious when we hold it too tightly—flowing water cannot be contained or ruled by the laws that govern the sun or the moon in the sky, and she is not a mountain; she is not meant to stay still. She follows her own laws. Families—whether the core family or our larger human family—often forget to celebrate the differences that make life possible, and in this way we scatter ourselves and doom ourselves to feeling perpetually lost.

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Reina—like Oshun, Ariel, Tara, and Aphrodite—is a maiden goddess. This is profound in that it shows the importance and value of the young feminine energy. She is often overlooked, but her innocence and sensitivity are needed to bring the world back into balance. Finding the maiden in our psyche brings us optimism and reconnects us with play, wonder and joy. Her weaving is the magic of life itself, the reminder that we are not separate but deeply connected as the very fabric of what propels life onward.

The Birth of Reina

This story takes place a long, long time ago, when the Sun and the Moon first met. Theirs was a love unlike any other, it lit up the sky and brought songs to the birds, and it inspired love on the entire planet. The daughter of the Mountain and the Ocean was born as this divine love began to blossom. She was a being unique in the universe. The daughter of the Mountain and Ocean was the most beautiful girl who ever existed, having come from the strong, rich Mountain and deep, shining Ocean themselves. Her fresh waters bubbled up gently from a place high in the mountain, and she animated the face of the earth with green and gold. Her name was Reina and she was divine royalty, and as her parents were quick to tell her, no common man would ever be worthy of her. Any suitor would need to match her divine heritage, elegance, beauty and talent, but where on earth was such a man to be found? And so Reina was lonely, but she was happy.

Reina grew up in the land of her father and felt connected to her mother but had never seen her. She wondered what her mother was like and sometimes felt a sudden urge to seek her out. But the forest was her home for now, and she trusted she would find her mother when the time came. As she wondered, she often wandered through the forest on the mountainside and talked with animals and trees. On her daily meandering, she made friends with every living thing, and they each in turn adored her for the ease and peace she brought their spirits. As she walked, violets blossomed under her feet and peach trees released juicy, ripe fruit into her palms. She took care of creation, and creation took care of her.

One day, as she wanders through the forest she happens to meet a tiny man who lives in a mushroom. They recognize one another as two threads of one fabric and begin to meet regularly on her walks. The two create a world unto themselves, but Reina’s heart is sad because she knows her parents would never allow her to marry this tiny, common little man.

More About Eila:

Eila Carrico is a weaver and wordsmith who delights in the mystery and magic of landscapes and memory. She grew up in rural central Florida, and was inspired by her studies in journalism, anthropology and religion to travel around the world and teach in Paris, Ghana, Thailand and India before settling in the Bay Area in 2008.  Check out more of her work at:   http://www.eilacarrico.com.

Meet Magny Tjelta, professional artist, designer & art teacher

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Photo Credit: Jeanette Nilssen

 

Check out her work on her website  and her blog

Here is more about Magny in her own words:

“I am a professional artist, designer and art teacher living on western coast of Norway.

In addition to my art work, I have been working part time for a charity organization for many years. My first role was to maximize the income generated from the donations of clothes, shoes, furniture and other items from the public. My passion for up-cycling lead to many great designs such as reclaiming old sofa leather to feed a factory line making handbags. For another project we did the complete TV studio re-design from up-cycled items for a regional TV magazine show.

My blog has included articles on drawing, painting, DYI tutorials and food recipes, and what unites them all is my real passion to help people release their creativity as part of a healthy lifestyle.

At the moment I am working on a series of online art classes concentrating on nurturing your creative side.”

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Wildly Creative: What is the advice you wish someone shared with you about pursuing your passions and feeding your creative self?

It took me a lot of time to learn how to feed my creative self.

I wish I was told that doing the things I love will give me the greatest pleasure and will make new dreams possible.

I had to discover that being nice to myself, for example, buying myself a bunch of flowers, or going to an exhibition, would give me the energy to be creative. These things are essential to nurture my creativity.

If you love what you do, others will love it too. Trust your intuition; focus on what is important to you. Be patient, put yourself out there and don’t be afraid.

I have learned over the years how to store ideas from my most creative moments, which I can use later to keep things flowing during the “dry” spells. I talk about these on my blog, which is open to everyone.

Life has surprised me, over and over again in many positive ways. Great things that I never imagined have happened.

Wild Creative: What drives you wild with inspiration and passion?  What is whispering to you that inspires you to create?

My motivation is to pose anthropological questions and comment on how culture is changing. In my art work, I study and deconstruct our experience of western history, popular culture and cultural truths. My work is particularly focused on my own present and recent past.

Although the various projects may not initially seem related, they raise recurrent concerns and questions.

For example I find inspiration from old photographs of previous generations of my family.

For me, looking back in time is like going into a misty landscape, where it is also dark, but the longer I find myself there, the brighter it becomes.

Wildly Creative: How does one maintain a wildly creative live while navigating certain life difficulties or challenges?  (For example, tough relationships, mundane schedules, etc.)

Experience has taught me what to do when I get stuck, and this took me years to learn.

The most important thing is to make a specific space in our lives to stay creative. It might be an hour on Saturday from 9 to 10, or Wednesday afternoons. We each have to decide what is right for us, write it down, and stick to it. It may take discipline and a strong will to get started. Even if it is just a little thing, it can be like a rolling snowball. But if you don’t do anything, nothing will happen. This is all very logical but can be hard to practice.

Finding creativity is the main topic of my blog and people can go there for much more details.

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Wildly Creative: Creative people are usually the ones challenging the rules and the status quo. They are often misfits. How are you making sure to hold true to breaking the rules?

I was born just 20 years after the end of WWII. Europe was rebuilding. There, not everybody got a chance to make a good life for themselves. In other places in the world, the hippie movement was taking place and after that we had the punk era.

Scandanivia had to re-create itself. And we now have what is arguably one of the most caring, inclusive societies in the world.

These made young people politically aware, concerned, skeptical, and we asked many questions. Our music and the way we dressed were ways to express ourselves politically. The art was expressive and straight from the heart. Together we believed we could make a difference. This feeling of power still gives me energy.

I believe that justice is more important than the rules. When we see things that are unfair we must react. We always need to be ready to break the rules to show people how society can improve.

This experience is always there; it is a way of thinking and is like a reality check.

 

 

What We Can Learn From David Bowie About Challenging Limitations by Shanta Lee

When a death occurs, I look at how the spirit and living of the deceased inspires a need to improve the quality of our everyday lives beyond mere existing.  For example, what can we learn by how others have been impacted by a life that has been well lived?  How can we ensure that we are living our lives in such a way that inspires others to break beyond the can’ts, shouldn’ts, or other social or self-imposed restrictions?

There are no easy answers to those questions.  However, we can take a moment to become inspired by an illustration of the life led by David Bowie.  If David Bowie has taught us anything, he showed us that we can make space to change, grow, create despite the natural fear or hesitation to go to places we may not have imagined.

We can break-up with can’t and shouldn’t.  We can add apology for our authentic ourselves to the bonfire while expanding beyond personal or social limitations.

His life extends an invitation to be comfortable in our own skin without explanation or apology.  He encouraged us to live as ourselves and become audacious cartographers of our own beautifully complicated maps for others to enjoy.

May you rest in peace and thank you for all of the ways you encouraged us all to just be.

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