Making new art!

Hi everybody!

Sorry my first March post is coming so late. It’s been a busy month! First of all, on the first Saturday (the seventh) I taught my first writing workshop! It was an introductory course on choosing what format to write in, plot, characters and setting and it was a big hit! It’s hopefully the first of several workshops, so I was pretty stoked that it went as well as it did. Additionally, as long as we’re on the good news train, I’ve been working very hard towards getting my back into order, with a fair amount of success.

Thirdly (and separate paragraph-ly worthy), besides my job, musical assistance, dance, reading, video games and other usual suspects for weekly activities, this past week I was also given the extreme pleasure and honor of getting to see the St. John’s Illuminated Bible at the Chazen museum in Madison. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up, and if you ever get the chance to see it, I highly, highly suggest it. All of the pictures you see on the internet absolutely do not do it justice. It’s amazing. I was also given the honor of hearing/seeing a presentation/demonstration on calligraphy by a traditional Sefer Jewish calligrapher (I believe that’s the correct term. Please forgive me if it’s not!), which is to my understanding a scribe trained in writing Torahs in the same way they’ve been written since basically forever. He was also a rabbi. In any case, it was super interesting (Did you know they sing the words and letters as they write them? Fascinating!) and such a beautiful example of intentionality. Something that struck me in particular was how everything came back to holiness. Specifically something he referred to as “Steps of holiness.” There is a technical Hebrew term for this, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it and don’t know Hebrew well enough to remember/spell it. Regardless, the idea is basically that once you have raised something to a certain level of holiness, it is disrespectful to lower it again, which means if you cut a square out of a hide (like everything else involved, it has to be kosher) to write on, the entire hide is holy, which means you can’t throw it away. You either have to use the rest for another holy purpose, bury it or keep it forever. Even the tiniest scraps of hide (the calligrapher said that he actually boils the really tiny pieces down to use as holy glue. Legitimately cool, am I right??) or flecks of dried ink have to be treated this way. An interesting thought when considering that I, as a carrier of Christ, have been set aside as holy myself (Where do my scraps go? Do I maintain that level of holiness, etc.?), but I digress, as these things, though wonderful, are not the point of this post.

The main point is to tell you that I’ve been making new art, and to share what it looks like.

So, as a bit of backstory, when I was in high school, still an angry, angsty teenager who didn’t know how much God loved me or just how hypocritical I was behaving in relation to my Christian beliefs, I was given an art project to paint a dream. Naturally, being angsty, I asked if I could paint a nightmare instead and, either by grace, interest or general indifference, was given the go ahead. This project is the point I most specifically remember as sparking my (real) turn towards Christ. Essentially, I painted the nightmare of abandonment and rejection (I was especially over dramatic back then) that I had previously lived through and feared living through again, and in the process realized that what scared me more than that was not just the fact that it made me sad, but that deep inside what it really made me was angry. Exhibit A:

Old Self Portrait
Yeah, I was a dramatic child.

In many ways, that painting came to reflect a lot of how I saw myself at the time. A wounded shadow wandering through the desert of life alone, hiding behind breaking masks. Like I said, angst to the max.

Since then, a lot has changed.

In doing some self-reflection over the past few months, I decided to do a new self portrait. At the time I had an image of someone made of many pieces (some of which I am still unaware or just becoming aware of), being slowly brought together by an outside inner force. It had much to do with the fact that this whole dance thing has still so taken me by surprise, but also because of the healing I’ve received over this last, well, almost a decade now. In any case, the result was this, Exhibit B.

New Self Portrait
Much better.

The colors are a little off from having to adjust the brightness (imagine a mint green for the background and a metallic gold almost like a gold leaf for the hands/inner face), but I’m sure you can adjust. So yeah, God’s doing a lot, just as he always is, and for that I am and will be eternally grateful. Thanks Jesus!

And to you, my gentle readers, thanks for reading!