Sing in the Angels
There are always several reasons why I do any particular thing. There is the explanation I give to others. There is the justification I give to myself. And there is the truth.
I told my friends and family that the reason I was spending one weekend out of every month in Albany was because I was working to get a certificate in the Expressive Arts to broaden my storytelling skills. I told myself that the Expressive Arts would deepen my understanding of STORY. The truth is that I came to the Expressive Arts because something was missing - the crayons, paints and pencils of my childhood needed to be picked up again and given life.
Making images - art-making - touches the very core of who I am. Relaxing into the process of creating an image in clay, with paint, with oil pastels, relaxing into the body's rhythm and wisdom through movement and dance allows feelings to bubble up, to come to the surface and float out onto the paper, into the clay. The physicality of the process is centering and provides a path, an opening for that which is hidden to emerge. And WORDS do emerge. The voice in word and song gives shape to the soul's cries of joy, of pain, of becoming.
In the Expressive Arts, the various modalities – painting, poetry, storytelling, song, dance – respond to each other. All of the senses are involved which heightens your awareness of the process and creates a space for the unexpected to happen, for new insights to come to light. My first session was Movement to Painting – Painting to Movement. We played with dancing and limbered up for the physical act of painting. I slathered tempera paint onto a 5-foot long piece of paper taped to the wall, reveling in the colors and the feel of the brayers and brushes against the paper. I was “invited” to step back, take a look, dialogue with my painting. I began to scrape away some of the paint and an image began to take shape. I added line with oil pastel and defined the shape more clearly. The image affected me deeply but the words were not there…yet! We carried our paintings into the studio, to respond in dance to what we had made. As I carried mine, it slipped onto the floor, and came to rest horizontally. I had worked vertically and this new view revealed a whole new layer of meaning. There on the floor was an image of P'an Ku, the god of creation in Chinese mythology.
Each session revealed resources, capabilities and possibilities within me that I would not have discovered on my own. Making art in community, exploring the process with fellow “journeyers” provided emotional support and a wide range of creative insights. What I found in the Expressive Arts is completeness, a way to SHAPE my story, a way to respond to the self that I am. I continue to be surprised by these discoveries and the joy that has appeared from somewhere deep inside.