Archive | life and death RSS feed for this section

Banished

10 Oct Banished janetbalboa
Banished janetbalboa

Banished c.janetbalboa2015

Roberto (my darling husband) posted my finished picture ‘Banished’ -on FB last night. Which has prompted me to write about it a bit sooner than I had intended.

I usually take time to sit with my work after it’s done. In a way, I meet my picture for the first time in this way. Before, it has always showed up to our meetings in a state of incompleteness. This in-the-process-of-being-finished stage of my art always has a lovely feeling of potentiality and possibility. Things can still creep into the drawing, it is still very much in process and dynamic. When I see my work framed and behind glass, it is finished. Complete. An object now, something I can observe in its final state.

I form opinions, observations, see it differently than when it was a work-in-progress. My work starts with a curiosity, a wondering about something and then over the course of months, I literally draw out my answer. It unfolds and reveals itself to me in the forms and colors and images that present themselves while I work. So I never start with a complete picture- I always have an image to get me started. Then I watch it unfold. I suppose it is similar to when characters begin to perform actions and demand scenes that surprise and delight their parent writers.

It’s because of this that I reflect after the picture is done- what was the answer to that question I had so many months ago? Have I changed to accommodate this answer? I believe with Rilke that we must be able to live our answers – and until we can, be content with loving the questions themselves. Often times the answer comes slowly as understanding born of research, insight and conversations are composted and turned over in my mind.

I am often asked what my pictures mean. And as you now know, they are personal answers to my personal questions. My experience and work with the symbols and images gives them meaning. But because my questions are similar to questions that many of us have, they also have a universal answer – and therefore we share meaning. The meaning resides in you, in how active the same symbols and archetypes that activate my questions, are present in you. Your life experience will bring different interpretations – are these any less valid? Anything that stirs the heart, moves the soul, causes us to wonder is a healing balm in our world of concretized dogma and instant answers.

Learning to trust ourselves fully and allowing our hearts to soar, far out on their strings – or on our sleeves –is letting our vulnerability touch and be touched by the world. We are big enough, encompassing enough, wise enough to enfold ourselves in our own healing embrace. Internally strong we come from our center; our unbreakable connection with the Mystery of our Being as it moves through time and space in the intricate and lovely vehicle called ‘me’.  You. Us. One of a kind magic.

This is what I wrote this morning on the information card I include with all my work. Each card relates to a specific picture. This is the card for ‘Banished’.

banished info card

It says:

banished As a culture, our inner masculine has devoured the action oriented Hero archetype- forgetting that the journey finishes with a return if it is to be a true journey. After the deeds are done, the lessons learned, the actions taken, the hero puts down his weapons, leaves the field of action and returns home- ideally giving back to the world the hard won truths. If everyone is off on this hero quest- who is keeping the metaphorical home fires burning? Who is there to welcome us as we return? We have overlooked- banished- the feminine; the receiving aspect of ourselves. Our inner feminine; the receptive, intuitive, inclusive and mother (an entire half of ourselves) has not been allowed a conscious or empowered place in our bodies or minds for thousands of years. The goal of the hero’s journey is the return – to society, integration, relationship – the world of feminine nature. The achievement of balance between both aspects of our nature allows us to become fully, beautifully, incredibly human.

Suicide.

23 Feb

What do you do when a child of 14 ends her life?

What do you do as your daughter, in tears wonders and wished that she could have, might, have done something, anything, if only…if only she would have known, if they had been better friends…or what about the other kids at school, the kids that are well, different, she says kids are really mean to them. She tells me about a boy that was called horrible names that day at school.  ‘Mom?  Kids were teasing him- I could have stuck up for him…mom… I didn’t. Why didn’t I?’

My heart breaks, my heart aches for this girl that I didn’t know, breaks for her parents, for her family… they have nothing today but pain and unfathomable loss…my rage at the kids who bullied her because she was ‘different’. Really? Aren’t we all striving to be individuals? To make our mark by being different? Unique? Isn’t that a big message from our culture?

And yet, I have compassion for the pain, the suffering that these ‘bullies’ have- the no-inside, the lack of sacred space, of any kind of belief that life is precious, sacred. That they themselves are acting out of terrible pain. As my daughter points out- ‘we have all these anti-bullying talks and pep rallies. But they don’t work…’  She looks back over her brief 17 years and cites examples that she feels regret about, people that she could have been far nicer to, people she could have advocated for. I’m proud of her. I think this might be a choice point for her. For her life.

The one thing this other girl hasn’t got.

Life.

I’m angry, sad, confused.

I want to agree with my daughter, that this could have, should have been avoidable. When you think of people that die for their beliefs, I don’t typically think of 14 year old girls. But I can imagine some of those beliefs: I’m different. I don’t fit in. It isn’t worth it. Did she think any of these thoughts? I don’t know for sure.

But I am ashamed that this can, and does happen. In her obituary it states that she was a student, artist, singer, and master of the ukulele. Sounds like someone I would have liked to have known.

I have another website- The Journey. Art for Healing. www.journeyartforhealing.com It sits unattended. My husband asked me a couple weeks ago what I was doing with it. He wanted to post some picture of my art class’ artwork at Le Petit Marche where I staged a gallery display –opening and all for my class, a group of 7 – 11 year old budding artists. We had a huge turn out on opening night- much to the amazement and delight of these kids. These kids come to my house after school on Thursdays and we do art. This is the sign that is still up on the wall for that art display.

art class description.indd

 I do not want to fall into the knee-jerk reaction of “I have to DO something’. But I am already here. And I think I see a way to help. But I’d like to add practicality to my initial gut reaction.

I want to form a group. An Art for Healing group. At the high school level, where these kids need an advocate, a mentor, someone to encourage them in their uniqueness and someone to just be a friend.

As an artist, I believe that I can reach this group of kids who feel different, outside. I get them. I know what that feels like. I already teach, already had the intention of this business, Art for Healing, and now have an opportunity. Two years ago, I intentionally decided to not set up The Journey: Art for Healing as a nonprofit. But it is registered as a business.

 Where your talents and the need of the world intersect…there is your vocation.

-Aristotle

So here I am. I’d really appreciate your comments/ideas/thoughts. I honestly don’t know what this could look like, or how it will practically come about. All I know is that there is a need here. And I am here.

death…and life.

17 Dec

The Tree of LifeI just completed this picture for Agnes, an Irish woman who recently passed. I never knew her, but the words of her son and his wife were enough to inspire this drawing. We decided loosely to include a Tree of Life and Celtic knot work. Those were my only directions. . .

I thought of Agnes a lot while I drew. What was she like? What would she think about this picture if she could see it?

The Tree of Life, with its mystery and its commonality to all peoples throughout human history represents in this picture, the connection between heaven and earth and also the life force that sustains and surrounds all forms of creation. Knot work can also symbolize this inclusiveness and interconnectedness of all things.

A couple of days before I finished, the words came to me -I like to think they were helped along by Agnes-and all I can say is ‘thank you’. Agnes’ spirit is here, she is alive in the stories her children tell and in the fond memories she inspires.

This was a very special commission and I am honored to be a part of this beautiful woman’s legacy.

The original image is 12 x 36. I have to thank Jen Emery for inspiring the green knot work which I rendered into pencil.

%d bloggers like this: