Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why exhibit art?

Some weeks ago I had a show of my painted shamanic drums and journey art on Cortes Island. It was not until yesterday that I understood why I exhibited this particular kind of my art. It was not, I discovered, for the more obvious reasons of sharing my work, or making sales, or finding new connections--however valuable these reasons are. It was so I could show myself the collected history of this work and by so doing, see the meaning embedded in their context and effort.
When I returned to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from a one year sabbatical spent in the Canadian Rockies and west coast of BC, I attended a weekend workshop held by a recent participant in a session at the Institute for Shamanic Studies in New York. I was very frustrated by that experience because I could not visualize an entrance to the Spirit world and therefore did not 'journey.' During the second day I was told by another participant who was journeying to his helpers on my behalf that "it's the wrong drum, she has to make her own."

This story is known by all who visit my website and read about my journey drums, but what is not known is that for the next four years I conducted 5 stone divinations--talking with stones by asking a question and then gazing into their patterned surfaces to see creatures whose presences are an answer to the question. From these divinations I made journey sketches which later became wheels of spirit-filled drawings.

These five questions were: How can I journey to the Spirit world if I cannot find the entrance? How will I recover missing sight? How can I follow this way? Who are my people? and How will dreams come true? What I realized during the drum exhibit is that these five questions tracked my transition from being a university teacher oriented to urban life and values--to a person living away from the art scene on a remote island where everything is alive and always talking. I discovered that what I was presenting through my art to my community was how, 22 years ago, I came here as the result of a spiritual journey with stones.