An Artist's Ode to a Turtle

Recently I have been thinking about how to get ahead.  Not "ahead" financially - but emotionally and in my art practice.  I frequently look to nature for inspiration . . . usually that would mean the trees, the ocean, the clouds and, always, earth's rocks. 

But today my inspiration is the lowly and 'slow-LY' TURTLE.

According to www.animaltotem.com, having a turtle totem has the following inclinations:  "Turtle teaches us to be careful in new situations and to be patient in reaching our goals. Turtle also teaches us to take things slow, for it gives us time to figure out if we need to protect our self or forge ahead. Turtle shows up in our lives when we need to go into [our] shell and wait until our thoughts & ideas are ready to be expressed. He also teaches us to be adaptable to our environment so we can find the harmony within it."

  

 I think the most important attribute I am working on right now is patience.  I want to run down the studio stairs and immerse myself in making art - I guess that art space is my shell in a sense.  I can truly block out the entire world while I am lost down there.  Yes, it is a true protection . . . but I also might miss something important or meaningful.

So we come full circle (woot, there is a turtle analogy), to audacity.  That turtle needs a whole hunk of it to stick his neck out (this is the most dangerous time for the turtle) to get anywhere.  Can you imagine not only having to risk your very LIFE if you headed out on a journey/goal, but that you had to drag your entire shell/house/studio/life WITH you!!!??????

Today TURTLE has taught me many things . . . the importance of patience, the need for risk taking, and the acceptance of life's baggage (home, children, extended families, work, etc).  I am so encouraged that if nature has given TURTLE such a divine purpose and way to accomplish against all odds - I, too, have received the same potential and ways of progress.

I hope to live long, just like the wise old TURTLE . . . learning to work with and within my environment and balance the risk-taking with the necessary time of self-protection.

If you are interested in more meanings of turtles, please check here .  One last item I found, which I am going to print out and use for inspiration:

Mother Earth

 

Turtle is the oldest symbol for the Earth.
It is the personification of goddess energy and the eternal Earth itself.

If you have a Turtle totem,
you must be mindful of returning to the Earth what she has given you.
Honor the creative source within you.
Use water and earth energies to create a harmonious flow in your life.
Ask the Earth for assistance and her riches will pour forth.

If a Turtle totem shows up in your life,
slow down the pace.
Bigger, stronger, faster are not always the best ways to reach your goals.

Turtle is a fine teacher of the art of grounding.
When you learn to ground yourself to Earth's power and strength,
you place focus on your thoughts and actions
and use the Earth's limitless energies rather than your own to accomplish your will.

 

(excerpt from LinsDomain 

 

 

 

Been A Long Time Gone

The last few months have been emotionally unstable for me . . . preparing for my first-born's high school graduation, along with the the entire 'visiting colleges', vacations, and children's end-of-year activities, I feel like there is no me left.

I have managed to squeeze in a few art related activities - finishing 5 new art works for an application for an exhibition in London (which I didn't get into, but which was a great motivator).

Choosing to continue with the CONSTRAINT series, I created:

Post-Partum, 2011. Created from Hospital Receiving Blankets

 Love, Honor, & Obey(?), 2011; Altered Wedding Dresses

 

Rat Trap, 2011; Bridal Veil, Wooden Rat Trap 

Initially, first reactions seem to be shock, and then, either horror or hilarity. 

I mean them to be visual jesters which have an underlying message about role models and institutions.  As a bride, I refused to say "obey" and as bride and groom, my husband and I attempted to have a garden wedding with a non-denominational vow exchange.  Unfortunately, after the family friend (minister) had agreed in July to the vows we had chosen, he decided the NIGHT BEFORE OUR WEDDING to announce to us that he would be using his King James/Fundamental Baptist wording.  We were NOT happy to say the least.  We felt TRAPPED by the trickery . . . yet we had 75 invites out, the Civil War era home we had rented was decorated . . . what to do? We got married anyway and I cried through the entire ceremony because it was not what we wanted.  Comments which were relayed to me after the wedding caused me to not speak to certain family members for 3 months.  It was awful.  I shudder at the memories of my own wedding.

Regarding "Post-Partum", I was thinking about the shock of bringing home a newborn and the emotional upheaval, not to mention the hormonal, changes.  It is difficult even if you are not dealing with depression, gestational diabetes, breast-feeding, etc.  This work also correlates with the "A PAXIL A DAY" and "COPING SKILLS" series, in that I had issues with pregnancy difficulties and depression.  On a broader scale, it simply visualizes the constraints parenthood puts on the family and couplehood dynamics.

One concern I have with marriage, as seen in "Rat Trap", is that once married, the couple tends to lose their 'romance' and 'infatuations' with one another.  Having been divorced, I was terrified that our marriage might END our love.  I am happy to say, 20 years later, that, for us, that was not the case.

What are the reactions you have to these works?  I would love to hear YOUR impressions and thoughts on marriage and parenthood!

 

 

 

Full Circle in 2010

So, it is happening!  Can you hear it?  Kind of a buzzing fly that you can't swat away, or perhaps a vibration you can feel in the floorboards?  Impending, non-stoppable, inevitable . . .

2011

It is a mystery to me how EXACTLY this happened, it seems as if it was only yesterday that I was lying prone on my back with slipped discs and a numb leg!  I am so happy that the June laminectomy and discography went so well - not so happy about the pain after the surgery, though!  Honestly, why don't humans just lose their minds from excruciating pain?  Regardless - I am now at 1/2 way recovery and just need to work on my strength so that I can begin  a fuller work schedule.

What I was able to accomplish (mostly from the couch) in 2010: 

a) continuation of handicapped mothering,

b) lots of Mario Cart tournaments

c) after-school chat fests with my crazy, individual children and their numerous friends,

d) teaching piano to the girls, playing from my childhood music books,

e) watching and rating Netflix movies,

f) re-designing my closet,

g) marketing some traveling exhibitions,

h) exhibiting new work in April, and

i) ending the year with a great show in Miami, simultaneously having a great vacation with my hubby.

When I begin to envision 2011 - these are my hopes and dreams:

I would love to make some type of money, I am truly worn out from the hand-to-mouth (really, empty art accounts and charging art supplies to credit cards); I am considering doing some legal transcription or some other type of work-from-home set up . . . but something that pays!  This would still enable me to be accessible to my children as they need me . . . help Dylan get settled into his 1st year of college (woot!) . . .

Artistically things appear to be building steadily, but it costs money to maintain that - thus, the money needs above . . . I am really excited about TAKE CARE's group show in January at The Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN . . . and later in the year at Vanderbilt University. 

I have been designing a new piece for the Custom House Museum's Women's History Month (March), again.  The idea has been brewing in my mind for years and it will be exciting to see it come into fruition.

Also in March I will be travelling with the hubby and newly graduated son, Dylan, to the Keys for his Graduation Trip, his Graduation in May . . . and the Fall will bring my 20th wedding anniversary (I hope I will be skinnier for that)!

I don't have any specific 'New Year's Goals', but I am aiming my focus on a better balance of spirit, work, and family.

2010 started with me being broken physically and I am happy to be feeling on the mend as another year has come FULL CIRCLE.

 

So, enough about me!

What are you planning to do with your life this year? 

Your 365 days?? 

What will you fill your hourglass with, before time runs out????

 

 

The Beautiful View of Perspective

It is unbelievable to me that I have not posted since September 8th!!!! What a naughty blogger I am!  Since that time I have: -  celebrated my 19th anniversary with my hunky hubby -  celebrated my 1st born and only son's 18th birthday -  celebrated my youngest daughter's 8th birthday (including redecorating her room from Princess to Zebra Stripe) and we had a blast making her Zebra Birthday Cake, memory we will keep in our hearts FOREVER Claire Designed her own Zebra Cake -  hosted a friend weekend with 5 overnight guests and a party for 20+
Singer/Songwriter, Larry Winslow, entertains our guests
www.larrywinslow.com  -  traveled to Indiana for the annual Covered Bridge Festival and spent 4 days with my sisters and extended family -  instigated the renovation of my website (to launch VERY SOON!) -  had several full studio days that are reaping many fantastic assemblage pieces (hoping to finish and photograph the new work tomorrow) So, WOW, I think I am not accomplishing, but then I look at the above check list of accomplishments (which doesn't even include daily things like hours of chats with my teens, or the hours of assisting the 3rd grader with homework and 'projects', or finally spending some quality time with my husband and friends . . . I can see, with that beautiful view of PERSPECTIVE . . . that my life is so FULL. It is not only FULL of activity, but with: LOVE, SACREDNESS, fulFILLMENT, BEAUTY and the richness of DISCOVERY. Once in a while I might feel sad, that maybe because of back pain, or general 'rushedness' - I might not have fully paid attention to a daughter's drawing or school story, or that I didn't take care of myself by taking my daily walks - but, all in all, I find that the choices I made several years ago - to quit work and stay home with the kids, to work from a home studio, to be available to them every hour they are not in school - I truly did the right thing - not just for them, but for me! I am not saying there aren't days I wish I could be in New York City hanging out with the other artists and networking, or attending EVERY SINGLE art opening in Middle Tennessee . . . but, really, I don't think  I miss much, and I for sure have gained A LOT.
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In The Meantime . . .

I had every intention of posting weekly . . . especially chapters from the <i>Coping Skills</i>book as a 'tester' - but, as usual, life happens when your busy making other plans. My estranged Grandfather died and it took him weeks to be interred in his self-aggrandized mausoleum; I spiralled into an emotional whirlpool (i.e., emotionally flushed down the toilet); I had an exciting 2 days of working in the studio for a whopping total of 3 hours; and, whammy . . . back to one year ago with pain and general malaise.  Perhaps the surgeon did know what he was talking about - 1 year until I am as recovered as I will ever be. In the meantime . . . I'll just keep stitching my percocet bottles and putting them on display . . . In theory - this is progress.  Right?  I mean, it is something.  Not much, but something. This means that in 1 year I have finished, maybe (if we stretch it) 10 pieces???  So much for my legendary productivity and self-discipline. In the MEAN time . . . I am working on my PATIENCE.  My LIGHT & LOVE. I am reading books, playing on a DS Light, playing Beatles on the digital piano, watching every documentary available on Netflix Instant Watch, compiling my Good Reads Library (I am near 900 hundred 'read' books), and being the best mother that I can be from my couch.  For example, I now know that: I can say a few things about the artmaking and parenthood . . .  taking care of your own needs - that is just putting the oxygen mask on yourself (as they instruct you in life and death situations in an airplane) before connecting the child . . . if you go out - then no one is there to save the kid.   I am working on some new series (slowly) about how the woman is the womb of the family - even for her husband.  All the umbilical cords go from her - and thus connect the man to the child, but through her.  She is the keystone, if her foundation isn't strong - it all goes to hell.  If she doesn't feed herself - all connected to her will suffer.   A child is born . . . and then we train them to crawl, stand, walk, run . .. away.   There are days I want to run away to a job . . . because the multi-tasking of parenting is crazy.  But even as disabled as I am right now - - - I know that me being here - on the couch - allows them to have a center - they revolve around me . . . they boomerang out and then come back home.  It feels good to give them what they really need - an ear to hear and an eye to SEE them . . . every second that I can give that undivided and exultant attention - it is more than most mothers give in a lifetime.  My kids probably think I am a terrible mother, but I hope - that in the future - as they look back, that they will realize that I SAW them and HEARD them.   This year has taught me so much about myself and life in general - I guess it was necessary, and it is still hanging with me.  I don't know if I will ever be back 100 percent physically.  But emotionally and spiritually, I feel like I have grown 'backbone' . . . and that, even from my couch "Yes I Can, Have My Cake & Eat It, Too". So, In the MEAN time - What I have learned is that: "Yes You Can - Have Your Cake & Eat It, Too" Sher Fick, 2010 1 -   I am more than just my title of 'artist' 2 -   I still define myself as an artist, even though I cannot artMAKE right now 3 -   There is something, somewhere in the near future, that I will find - that 'ah ha' moment when I fully understand the benefit from this STATIC physical state. Hello, peanut gallery, what PRAY TELL, could that be???
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He Did Not Go Gently . . .

My Paternal Grandfather, Emery Wilson Creekbaum, Nov. 1918 - Aug. 17, 2010 written the evening of August 17, 2010 Today my paternal Grandfather passed away.  This has been a long time coming, as I began mourning him 10 years ago when he hung up on me during our last telephone conversation.  Maybe I should have allowed him to continue enacting his blue-ribbon worthy 'guilt trips'.  However, as I had moments before opened his last letter and read the hurtful words his pen had applied on that singular ivory linen stationery, and knowing he did it purpose-filled and with the wrath of his holier than thou narcissism . . . well, my wounds just ran too deep.  The barely scabbed over injuries ripped open and my emotional sanguine gushed forth . . . and I made a fatal decision to pick up the phone - and he made the equally fateful decision to hang up on me as I cried. My sister and I are already the 'red headed stepchildren' of that clan anyway [because we are the children of his first son by his first wife, who divorced when my father was only 1 year old; both of my paternal grandparents immediately remarried and had children of their own with their new spouses - my father was shuffled back and forth and argued over for 50 years].   We have never fit completely or comfortably into either side of our paternal grandparents. But my sister and my birth father can go to the funeral as they were still in Emery's 'good graces' when he died.  I am barred from it.  I was his artistic prodigy and spent many hours sketching pictures to send for his approval (which was always disapproval even when my illustrations were used on the cover of our family's Heritage magazine).  Ironically, my talents far surpassed his awkward pastel drawings and poorly executed illustrations - he cut off communication with me just when I was reaching a level of maturity and development creatively.  I know the day I took him, back in 1997, to meet some of my art professors at OWCC, he was proud of me and even reveled in the small glories I had in art classes, exhibitions, and art advocacy endeavours.  And I know that when, on that same day I applied my own makeup to my blind step-grandmother's wrinkled 78-year old face, and fixed her wiry salt-and-pepper hair with my curling iron - I know that that day I was loved, maybe even for who I was and not just for bragging rights. I have heard from other family members that he bragged about me [once he acknowledged me as a descendant/note: apparently he questioned that fact as my father left when I was a tiny baby] - he has apparently said that he thought I had made a good match with Don and that my homes were beautiful and that my children, his great-grandchildren, were the prettiest babies he had ever seen.  He never told me any of that to my face, though.  He did not live gently.  His 92 years were successful if you look at his homes, his vacations, his many grand and great-grandchildren, his more than 50 year marriage to my step-grandmother - but to me, he was always poor in spirit.  Cantankerous and self-absorbed, an avid and mythical storyteller - he claimed to have hidden John Dillinger's gang in his barn, he claimed royal ancestry, he acted like a Mafia Godfather.  We had so many passions in common: our ancestry/genealogy, art, travel, history, and books.  I have mourned the inevitable loss of my Grandfather, my 'dream' of that Grandfather - for 10 years and counting . . . I knew this day would come, but I never expected the soul-stopping sorrow - I thought I had "been there, done that".  My journey as his grand-daughter started as I sat on his knee while he sang "Trot-Trot-To-Town-We-Go",and sat at his feet while he spun stories of little girls with my name wondering the forest in a Little Red Riding Hood, and later still - I stood at his elbow gazing up 6 ft. high into his blue-Creekbaum eyes - desperate for approval and love.  Desperate to be included with that magical and economically rich family that belonged to my birth father. Regardless of the 10 years to prepare myself for this day, I am sad.  I am confused.  I hope I did the right thing by standing up for my family members in that climactic telephone call, even though he couldn't hear ill of himself or others.  He did not dwell in truth, but in fantasy and a utopia that he built within his solipsistic world.  I am the dirt he tried to sweep under the rug.  As seen above, when I visited 

The Topock Maze, [as it was named, covers 18 acres and is made up of windrows five feet apart from each other.[2]

A late 19th century unpublished ethnographic report said that Mojave people put men into the center of the maze and left them to find their way out without crossing the windrows. Edward Curtis wrote in 1908 that, "It is believed that by running in and out through one of these immense labyrinths, one haunted with a dread [ghost] may bewilder the spirit occasioning it, and thus elude them."]

I did my first ritual of ridding myself of the hurtfulness of our estrangement.  As I carefully chose a fragment of desert-varnished stone, as I wrote his name in watercolor pencil, and as I slowly placed it name-side-down back on a windrow  - I prayed that all the pain would wash away with his name during the next rain shower.  In 2006 I created an installation based on this day - aMazed - which includes handmade paper, penned with your objects to be cleansed of wrapped around a piece of slate and tied with sinew.  This interactive performance is healing and seeks closure. aMaze, slate, handmade paper, sinew - indoor or outdoor - interactive, 2006   As he is laid to rest in the majestic mausoleum he built for himself in the 70's . . . (he was a renowned stone mason and memorial designer) . . . I will continue to cause him to roll over in his grave, er - I mean mausoleum.  I do have the distinct and rare knowledge that I believe I am the only person to have stood up to him and not to have been thrown against a wall (note: I realize he couldn't do that over the phone, but he did the next best thing).  I think he thinks he had the last word.  Not really.  I am still here; and, he - he will soon be rotting in his mausoleum I get the last word by teaching my children that kindness is a better way - that love does not go hand in hand with guilt.  That I am proud of my husband and my children for their intrinsic creativity and vivacious personalities - and not only because of their  jobs/salaries/accomplishments or for what makes me more WORTHY.   Also - I get the last word - because my work has been hung and been displayed in international exhibitions and high end museums.  And -  I have another 40 - 50 years to take it even further. So, thanks, Emery, for the backbone you trained me to have while you emotionally beat me to the ground again and again.  I am still standing . . . the line of life . . . and you are horizontal . . . the line of death.  Now that you are gone, I can possibly find some peace.   There is a completeness in those lines, when they intersected like we did with our lives - they created on the most universal symbols of time . . . the cross, literally the intersection of LIFE and DEATH.  Now I can stand alone.  I can reach as high as I endeavour. And, dude, never once in my entire f#$*)$ 42 years did you EVER spell my name correctly!  There was never a 'c' nor a second 'e'!!!!
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