Monday, October 21, 2013

The Advantage of Moods & The Mother Who Gives up her Eyes

It just so happens I am an emotional creature because I am a human creature. Period. That's the story of being alive for all of us. Sometimes we feel this and sometimes we feel that. Naturally, I'm interested in the things that make me feel good but I also must not overly invest in those things because most are 99% out of my control. So why not enjoy this emotional roller-coaster journey? Why not be keenly interested in the world around me as well as the emotional world within me? And if I approach my emotions with curiousity rather than judgment, often that curiousity translates into fuel for my creative life. The trick is to be curious without drawing too many conclusions.... “I am depressed because..." or “I am sad because...” As soon as I draw conclusions, I've lost my curiousity. It's a done deal. It lacks energy. The fuel is gone. 

Art-making and entering into an art piece created by someone else are cathartic in a way that defy the intellect. My artist friend Alanna and I were having a conversation and I was telling her that when I read a story by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Kay Nielsen, I find myself transported into an understanding of loss and love; an understanding that I could never get from reading a thousand self-help books or even books on spirituality. Why? Because Hans Christian Anderson does not try to give me an answer for my grief. He does not say “If you just take this step or that action, all will be well.” Alanna brought me to see that the author drew me into a world of beauty; a world where characters experience what I experience. And as I read, I feel as if I am the woman who gives up her eyes to the lake to become pearls in return for the lake transporting her to the other side where she believes her child is. I feel as if I am the one who has chosen to trade my hair for the old woman's greying hair. 

The story is something I experience directly. I am at the lake with the woman. My hair has gone grey. My eyes are at the bottom of the lake as pearls. I enter the story from my heart and not from my head. My head is far to cluttered at the best of times to receive a direct experience of truth. This is what I look for, I suppose, in art. And the thing that I look for in art, I also look for in life. That is: a beauty, a ringing truth, a journey into a place of magic that reminds me that this earth is also a place of magic. Things are too layered with emotions to be answered simply with words. We need our stories, our illustrations, our films, our music, our loved ones, our memories, our emotions, we need it all. And when I emerge from the story, I notice the world around me looks a bit more wondrous; a smidgen of magic enters the place. Below is one such magical place. My daughter stands in the distance. And I stand watching.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Under the Pearl Moon film project

It's taken a village to make this film and I can't express enough my gratitude to everyone who so generously contributed to bring the project to this point.

Firstly, I want to share with you that the wonderful, dynamic, generous-hearted, talented Jennifer Garrett, who played the role of Aunt Birdie, passed away unexpectedly this summer in Croatia. The way she lived her life was, in fact, the impetus for the story behind Under the Pearl Moon. She was fiercely committed to the environment and her love of the natural world could be seen in her beautiful and vibrant works of art. For Jennifer, the expression of her creativity knew no bounds. She was a singer-songwriter, theatre artist, visual artist, jeweler, healer and the list goes on.  Jennifer demonstrated by example that as long as we are alive, we can contribute to the world through art-making and through opening up the creative possibilities in ourselves and each other, as she did so effectively and powerfully.  We were so blessed and fortunate to work with Jennifer Garrett last summer on the film. She left us with beautifully performed footage of her role of Aunt Birdie as well as audio recordings of her songs. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for what she gave this project and how excited we are to share the film with the world.  In fact, without her, there would be no Aunt Birdie and there would be no film.  

When this spring we hosted a “Vintage Tea Party” fundraiser,  Jennifer wasn't there in person but she sent me a lovely angel painting which we raffled at the art raffle.  We also had art works from Alanna Marohnic, Marianne Brown and Linda Brown.  And, of course, we had tea in the garden and tea in the house.  I felt Jennnifer's support, even though she was across the ocean at the time.

As well as teas and deserts, we offered tea-leaf readings, a vintage clothing and collectables sale. Thanks to all of the helpers, it went off very smoothly and by the end of the day, we had raised our goal. (We will plan one other fundraiser prior to the launch to help raise funds for the sound recordings.)

The film has now been edited and is thirty minutes in length. We have entered into partnership with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and in December, we hope to spend a day recording live chamber orchestra music for the film. The sound track has been composed by Lise Vaugeois. To include a live orchestral recording for the film is something we could only have dreamed of.  the recording, we will need to add the music as well as final sound edits and “colour correction.” And then, in March of 2014, voila!, we will have a film to present to our community and well beyond. Our plan is to send it out worldwide to environmental film festivals as well as festivals for family audiences.

We have also completed a series of lesson plans for teachers to use in the classroom in tandem with the film. These are experiential arts-engaged lessons that allow students to explore the themes in the film in a deeper way. Once the film in launched, we will take the next step of planning a series of workshops in the schools.

I would like to close with this beautiful photograph of Jennifer taken by Paula Thiessen.  Jennifer is wearing one of the Aunt Birdie costumes and gazing into the just-before-dusk sky.  "Under the Pearl Moon" will be offered in tribute to Jenn.