Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is it still a leap if it is calculated?

Over on Pinterest, I've been tracking "weird collages" on this board. For some reason the culture jam nature of these pieces has been calling to me. So I went back to my own collection to see what I had scanned, started building up my collection of public domain elements, and scouring around for old photos in family boxes that I could scan for parts and pieces. I'll admit that I had only done about 4 culture jam pieces back in 2009 when my computer crashed and I lost everything. I have only the one stillbirth advocacy piece recovered. And I lost my umph for playing after that time. But today, here's the first of a new round of playing.

Something in this about how to find balance in head, heart, body? Something about questioning if it is a leap of faith when we are constantly calculating moves? Something about how we say we are letting go, but still bring along all the recorded pieces of junk voices that play around our heads? Something about the look on her face that says this isn't a leap of faith, joy, or whatever we might assume, but that she's actually jumped before and experienced grief from the risk? Something about media presenting us with what the leaps or good life look like so that we all become "the other" or never quite meet the criteria?

I don't know. I've also had the dreg on top of the chronic illness stuff I've been dealing with this past year, so you'll have to forgive me if the dreg seems to be tainting things. It fogs my brain and makes me hack up a lung. I can't track to do anything other than what calls me which makes things like my inbox and the bills-to-be-paid pile up. It's just one of those human, messy, full of the dreg times. And I contemplated not posting anything, not sharing this piece. But I figure, you know, I'm so awful at posting regularly this past year, that I might as well start posting even if it's only a half formed thought or first bad attempt at resuming the culture jam series.

Radical Creativity that, aye? Share humanness instead of polish?!? Ah well, it is what it is. Are you creative even in grief or when the dreg gets you? But you don't like how it looks or feels, so you don't share at those times? What does human, messy, dreg look like for you? :)

Sending Reiki and supportive vibes for whatever is up for you!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Heck. It's all an experiment. A sort-of how-to.

[Shared for Jamie Ridler Studios' I Made This Monday!]

The grief metaphor here is this: Heck. It's all an experiment. Good, bad, light, dark, everything in between. It's all about the process, not the product. The play, not the outcome. And even when it turns out badly, there's still something left as long as I'm still breathing! So here's my mixed result art experiment that led to this metaphor...

The process is easy enough really:

  1. Use alcohol inks to stain up two pieces of tissue paper.
  2. Lay the first piece on a piece of plastic, like a cut out square of plastic from one of those grocery bags you can't recycle.
  3. Mix acrylic medium with water till you get a very watery consistency that you can paint onto the tissue paper.
  4. Lay your fiber strands on top of the acrylic'd tissue paper.
  5. Place the second piece of tissue paper on top of the fiber strands.
  6. Again, paint the watery acrylic medium all over the top tissue paper.
  7. You'll see it all mushes together and is very clingy to the plastic.
  8. Let it dry overnight. 
  9. Next day, peel the plastic bag away from the back and you are left with a square of enmeshed fibers you can cut up to use in collage or encaustic pieces.

You can see in the photo at the top that my square of enmeshed fibers is sort of torn and ragged. So here's where I went wrong. I didn't use a piece of flimsy plastic like a plastic bag. Instead, I had this old plastic cutting board that was stained and messed from me painting on it and staining on it. I thought it would be interesting to do this process on that board, because when I pulled off the square, it would pick up flecks and pieces of the stained stuff in random patterns.

Well the process really cemented my enmeshed fabric square to the board. And unlike a flimsy piece of plastic, I could not bend and peel away the board.  Instead I had to pull the enmeshed fabric square off the board. Hence, it is ragged, ripped, torn, strip-like, not square. It did pick up wonderful markings and such though. It will still be fun to cut it up and use it in encaustic or collage. But it is not like all the perfect squares of enmeshed fiber you see in the craft books and all. It is different. It is marked differently. Shaped differently. Torn, a bit broken.

Can you see the grief metaphors. Still beautiful. Still perfectly usable for making something creative. But ragged. More about process than outcome. So keep experimenting, lovies! heARTistically and artistically. It is all about the playing, not about the products. Really. Love and invest in the process for process sake.  Just because you are still breathing.  You are worth it. Your art and heART are worth it.  I promise.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

art of heART instead of the art of war...

I have no idea what the meaning is behind this piece of street art. I don't know who put it there or why. Maybe it is a protest of some sort. Or a declaration. The thing that struck me was that it was done with heART. It was not done by killing or being violent. And yet, we know the "property owner" may take offense feeling it is violent and respond violently by trying prosecute the artist, or at the very least go to length to cover what was "done" to "their" property. What if the "owners" didn't respond that way? What if people stopped taking offense to artwork like this? What if the artist was actually heard in the first place when they were trying to be heard instead of having to take to the walls? What if the world was filled with heART instead of the art of war?

My being keeps turning toward this idea of a LIFE of creativity. Not just in the studio. Not just on the canvas. But creativity in every move, every breath, every glance. Creativity in every love, every grief, every bite, every move.


  • Remove the guns from every hand and holster. Replace them with spray paint cans.
  • Remove ownership and make every person a partner and share holder in land, walls, buildings and encourage their decoration with art.
  • Stop taking drugs and start taking long, slow walks that take hours and hours.
  • Smash all alarm clocks and sleep, wake, eat, walk, bathe, work, create, play at any hours of the day or night you wish.
  • When you are lonely, angry, and unheard, make a huge heART-full protest sign and go stand out on the street corner with it until someone talks with you about it.
  • Cut out the tongue of every cliche and give people space and time to say things instead like, "I don't know what to say."
  • Stop building your schools, hospitals, mental institutions, suburbs, and prisons based on the same blue prints. Stop comparmentalizing (come-apart-with-mental-lies) and actually try being with your fellow living beings.
  • Stop treating animals and the ecology as they are separate from you. You are only killing yourselves and your grandchildren's children by slaughtering the animals and ecology.
  • Stop giving maps any power at all. Realize they are lines, arbitrarily drawn on paper, bought and sold at the violent whim of the "victors" and start to REFUSE to participate in the discrimination of cartography. 
  • Stop accepting religious leaders and interpretations of religious text that tell you violence or judgement are okay. The moment your religion tells you it is okay to be anything other than KIND to other living beings, you have crossed into a cult and are spreading dogmatic dictatorship lies.  
  • Refuse to demonize technology. Take responsibility for the fact that tools are just tools, but we humans are at fault for using these tools for evil instead of good. Change your ways and choose to do only good with technological tools.
  • Stop glorifying money. If you are lucky enough (and it is all luck) to be able to buy food, medical services, shelter, clothing, then make it your mission to give it all away to people who cannot afford any of those things. 
  • Stop justifying all the ways you are angry with the world and others. Look within and see what it is you hate about yourself. Better yet, look within and see there is no self. You are angry at nothing. Even the anger is no-thing. Let it all go.
  • Stop taking my word - or anyone's word - for it. Go make your own list.

I often say, "Go make art." Well, today, instead, I'm telling you, "Go make your life." Or better yet, let it all go and just BE.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Excerpt reading from "to linger on hot coals"...

Excerpt from March 2014, To Linger On Hot Coals, Reading by Kara LC Jones aka MotherHenna. This video was part of a larger reading that hosted all the contributors to the book and took place in Lancaster, PA earlier today March 8, 2014. For those of us at a distance who could not make the hop over to be there in person, we contributed video readings. Sooooo missed getting to see all of you in person, but honored to be part of the project. A special thanks to Steph and Catherine for the hearts and souls and blood, sweat, and tears you put into bringing this collection to life. My heart to you and to each of the contributors and readers, too!
The other book you see in the photo at the top of the post is Patti Digh's Geography Of Loss book. Honored to have some full color, featured artwork in that one, too. I managed to finally work up a variation on one of the pieces to offer as a sticker:


Sunday, March 2, 2014

...for the love of a gooood library...

Vashon Island, King County Library kicks ass. I love my library. The librarians rule. The collection is off the charts fabu. If it isn't in the library on the island, I simply request a hold. The ghosts in the machine fish the title off a shelf somewhere in the King County system, deposit it on the shelf here on Vashon, and flag it neatly under the "J" section with a little ticket sticking out that says "Kara Jones." I get an email that says, "Your hold item is waiting for you." And wa-la, fantabulously fabu art books in my hands! I love my library.

Why am I sharing this? Who cares? Well, it's part of my practice of living a creative life every single day. When my first son died, what did I do? I did internet searches for books. Where did I get them mostly? The library. If I loooooved a particular title, well then, yes, usually I would buy it. But I almost never buy a book without checking it out of the library first.

When I lose my inspiration and umph for artmaking, what do I do? I do internet searches for books. Where do I get them? The library. If I find one I love, I will probably buy it. But I NEVER buy an art book without checking it out of the library first.

When I get totally obsessed with a particular artist and want to just take in everything I possibly can by and about them, what do I do? The Library!!

Part of it is the whole island living thing. We have a lovely bookshop here -- actually a couple bookshops as the back room of Minglemint is now hosting the antique bookshop again. But our bookshops are not your typical, mainland superbookstore where you can just pick it up and read to decide. Believe me, our bookshops can get anything for you, but often it isn't on the shelf to browse, so they are ordering it online, too, you know? For this reason, the library is my decision making space. I love my library. Have I mentioned that?

And here's a really interesting evolution to this love story. Our library has been in a temporary store front for the past year as the main library site has been under massive renovation. But lookie lookie, she's almost done and ready for re-inhabiting:

When I went to pick up my books today, the librarians told us March 29th!! That's the big open house day. They'll be closed the 5 days prior with the move from the temp site to come back home (fyi for all y'all islanders!). I'm so excited to ring in our 1 year anniversary of being back home by ringing in the house warming for the new library. And the library home is this incredibly easy walk from where we live, so I plan to spend lots of time at the new library in the coming year. Will be so lovely to have the green space back around the library, too. I've missed sprawling out on the grass under the trees on the hill there. Will feel like a proper summer again with that space open again. And I'm just guessing that next winter will feel like a proper winter again, too, when I can spend rainy days in the stacks!

Anyway, point to all this is, go to your library! Support your library. If you are in Pittsburgh near the Carnegie Library + Museum in Oakland, well, you lucky dawg! and go there! :) Want some real heART proof that the library is inspiring? Fine. You got it. You may remember a while back I was obsessed with Jean-Michel Basquiat, was writing about him, reading books, watching dvds, looking up old magazine articles. Some of that I could do on the internet, yes. But to get a really goooooood look at his work, the details? The oversized coffee table books from the library, of course! And I paged them and checked them out and renewed them and ordered more from the stacks and obsessed properly for a month at least.  Here's one of a series I just finished -- a series that started after my obsession with his work -- clearly:

I love my library! Go give your library some lovin' too, loves! XOXO

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Suffering is...and so we love and love and love again.

Loves, look, I'm sorry, but I honestly don't know what to say about AZ, Kansas, Uganda, everything in Russia...I don't know what to say about situations like the one the Pelletier family finds themselves in now (and there are so many other families out there fighting the same kind of battle)...I don't know what to say about places in the world where all has turned violent as people aim for fairness, justice, peace.

Segregation blows.

I hate seeing governments trying to segregate gay and lesbian people as much as I hate being told my husband or son can't attend an event with me because it is for women only under the guise of "empowering" women. I hate seeing institutions tear apart families like the Pelletiers in the name of mental health as much as I hate being told that men and women grieve differently so the support group meetings are being held separately. I hate that when people head out with the best of intentions to fight for peace, justice, and fairness, we all become the *fight* and not the peace, nor the justice, nor the fairness.

The longer I live, the more I understand the Buddhist lineages that teach: Suffering *IS*.

We can't change it, end it, make it be different. All we can do is take response-ability for how we each respond to it. So for me personally, I have to find ways to let go of that hate I feel when hearing all these various stories. I have to find ways to love and love and love again. Be love. Offer love. Speak love. Foster love. Hope that modeling love will convince another to embrace it, too. And thereby, maybe we shift things one person at a time.

Is that enough? I don't know. Can love really work that way? I don't know. But this is the only reply I can think of in the face of all this suffering.

And in the same breath, I have always hoped that Lawrence was right:

Maybe the twist is that we stamp our feet, dancing, with the new power of love to make it happen?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Keep taking the next step...

Every now and again I do silly things like, oh I don't know, like agree to doing a solo gallery show, a feature gallery show, organize a group gallery show, and do a 20 minute presentation on my heART adventures at a creativity conference I've never been to before, so having to just turn up and present.  You know. Normal stuff that people do when jumping off the edges of their comfort zones. I melt down now and again and get totally halted in my process. Usually sit on the couch and cry to Hawk asking why I do this to myself and how things would be different if our sons had just lived. I know. I know. I'm really good at the improv drama queen stuff.  BUT here's what I also know. I'm good at the improv process of just take the next damn step stuff, too.

So recently as I've been getting pieces ready for the shows this year, I decided to raise the visibility of my accountability in this process by snapping pics now and again to share in my Facebook album of art. What you see here are photos from the past week or so. The very top photo is the completed sets of pieces. The photo just above this paragraph was a pic from the week prior - just after the print transfers were done onto the altered canvases, but before any embellish or integration to pull the background and foregrounds together.

You can see from the last two photos in this post, a couple more close up looks at individual pieces that show a bit more clearly how I kept working on them, taking next step and next step each day in the past week.  I was talking about them earlier in the week as being encaustic play, but in talking with Hawk, I realized that it's not really encaustic.  See, I'm weird. I don't like using the resins and oils, so I'm just playing with pure beeswax. More like you might see done in the archival process with cotton canvases. But I'm not just doing it as archival seal, I'm playing with it encaustic style, embedding mixed media, doing multi-layers, and such. Hawk ended up calling it "Karacaustic Style" so I guess we'll go with that! :)

So the first photo that starts this post is the finish mark for these two sets of Buddha themed and mask themed pieces. I'm on next to doing some Karacaustic on a triptych of Jizo pieces. Then doing hand embellish on 20x20 giclee canvas pieces. The bamboo paper prints are already on their way to me. And last, I'll need to work up the greeting card versions of various pieces to go with each of the shows. Now that my computer is fixed again, I can finally do that as I can finally get to the online ordering/upload interface that eluded me for several weeks there! :)

It's really just been about living my practice of letting go of the overwhelm. Letting go of attachment to the outcome of the shows or the presentations. Because for all I know, I could be dead by the time it all rolls around! So why waste my vision, time, energy, whatever THERE?! Rather, stay in this moment, with this step and do it. The little thing. Drip wax on the next piece. Or clear space for the finished piece to dry. Or take out the garbage. Or whatever. You know. Just understanding that even the small, present step of taking out the garbage is important. Is now. And provided I live long enough, it's the present step that leads to the gallery shows and the creativity presentation.

Whew. Okay then. Breathe. And take out the garbage. It's raining, so maybe I'll wear my fancy Elmo hat while I take it out. No reason I shouldn't be creative while taking out the garbage, too!


Monday, February 24, 2014

It doesn't just happen in the studio or museum...

It's easy to get caught in the world that says love comes in bouquets of roses that cost fifty times as much on Valentines day as they cost any other time of year. It's easy to convince myself that beauty costs money I don't have and is part of a lifestyle I'll never attain. It's easy to be tricked into believing that creativity happens only in a big loft studio with all the best space, tools, work time, an agent, and only making art, not doing business stuff.

These are such horridly harsh lies that can lash through my life and being. They certainly are not things I would ever consider foisting on others because these are such mean and nasty beliefs. And yet my inner critic has no problem dumping it all on me. Constantly. From the moment I wake.

So how to snap out of it? How to reconnect with a flow that is more authentic? Well, interestingly enough, for me it shifted when I went out to do errands. I walk out the back door of the Two Wall Gallery uptown here, past the department of licensing branch office, down a stair or two, and BAM! The photo you see at the top of this post. Scattered all over the ground. Just staring up at me. Beauty, color, art, all scattered with refuse, dried dead leaves, rain, moss, all strewn across cracking pavement.

It really doesn't take much to wake up. But waking up is required for living wholeheartedly. Creativity and beauty are everywhere. Even in the midst of the mundane, the profane, and even in the midst of death and grief. If only we'd allow ourselves to see it *all* instead of letting the critics dump their skewed perspectives all over us!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Grief + Creativity are relative to your life, not just to death...

So many of us think of grief as something that happens just in relation to death. But this is a powerful reminder. Though the video below doesn't directly talk about creativity being used to address grief -- it *is* addressing the grief and loss people feel when they face basic unmet needs like hunger while learning to live again in the face of the grief after debilitating illness, job loss, and more. This isn't happening to whoever you identify as "other" -- it is happening to all of us.

Hawk and I have lived homeless in our car before...we've faced hunger using what is now called SNAP assistance, I guess, as well as accessing food banks, free clinics, and more. And I'm grateful we survived. But when I hear one of the women here say she went to a food bank and was turned away because they ran out of food...when I hear one of them say, that even with assistance, she can't get everything on the list...just heartbreaking.

The grief + creativity work I'm trying to do in this world is not some morbid, death obsession -- this is LIFE and it's real and happening to all of us. Please wake up, folks, and give to your local food banks.  I'm partial to supporting Vashon Maury Community Food Bank if you'd like to donate there, too.
 Miracles, k-

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vday heART Fest ... 17 featured artists ... add your link, too!

Kara | MotherHenna
Hey lovies! Welcome to our heART Blog Fest today. We've got 17 awesome heART pieces featured today from artists all over the world. Clay, fabric, photographic, mixed media, ATCs, henna, and more. This collection was curated as a Valentines heART swap which you can read about by clicking here. We each made a set of 20 handmade art pieces. Then when they all got to me, I photographed what you see here to feature each set. Once done with that, I sorted the pieces, putting one from each set into envelopes that are being posted back to the artists. They will each get one piece from every other artist, plus a few of their own back since we had a few artist drop out there at the end.

I'm also posting a Mister Linky at the end of this post. So if you all have heART you'd like to share today on the theme of Valentines, heart, open heart, broken heart, or any such thing, please leave your link so we can surf around for fest!

Enjoy your gallery walk through today's heART, everyone!
Yvonne Lucia | | sneak peek 

Michelle Favreault | 

Cheri Quigley Hayward aka Pink Cupcake Arts | sneak  peek

Jhanifor Griggs

LindaMarie Davinroy Smith

Emily Sellers Wilberg

Andrea Davis

Christine Grothe | | sneak peek 

Tabitha Beck | 

Matt Meko | 

Yolanda Ortega Nussdorfer | 

Serena Aversa | | sneak peek 

Amber Coffey | | sneak peek 

Sherene Zolno

Noel Royer

Hinke Gerla | 

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