Picking up the Pieces

Somedays I feel dizzy and overwhelmed and the world is spinning out of control. It is untethered, afloat in a frenzy of despair and fear. Today I wanted to go hide in my cave. I felt weighted with sadness. Then I read the words of a great man who just died. He said, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” RIP John Lewis

These words delivered a needed dose of hope. Things are broken and we are divided. Yes, we are struggling to finally acknowledge our past. We are breaking up with the old stories that were told by the victors. Things are being smashed and broken. As we let go of the old myths that were handed down, we are floating, adrift without a new story to anchor the boat we find ourselves in. The emerging story we tell must embrace everyone. Each of you play a part in the story you tell and when all are free to share their story, then history is enriched. Today I move outside the cave and begin the search for all the broken pieces of the past. I will shape them into a new form to tell a more complete story. We will put our history back together, in this present time, and we will move forward into a new future.

I challenge you to pick up the broken pieces of who you are. Maybe you were told you couldn’t be an artist, an actor, a musician or your dreams were trampled on. Look into your soul and pick up these broken dreams. Do not try to press them into the old vision or the mold that you thought your dream was supposed to look like. That dream was probably someone else’s vision anyway. How could it look like yours when you hadn’t stepped into it yet?

Pick up the pieces and create a new sculpture from the bits and found parts. You are made up of your experiences. You are molded by your choices, whatever they were. Let go of judgement and create something fresh. This year was to be my 20th Anniversary participating in the Contemporary Hispanic Market and I had wonderful plans to celebrate, but my vision was shattered. Not by the event being cancelled. It happened last year when my paintings were rejected.

The artists must rejury every few years and last winter was the time for all artists to do this. I took my paintings and my sculptures and visited with my friends during the process. After so many years it was a joyful gathering and not stressful as it had been in the past when I used to worry whether I would get in or not. After 19 years I just went along with the routine. Then the letter came. My sculpture was accepted but not my paintings. I was stunned, hurt, angry and then dejected and confused. I went through the cycles of denial and despair. The worst had happened. Why?

In my anger I decided I was not going to do the show. The paintings that had won awards in this show over the years suddenly weren’t good enough. How could this be? When I first began to do the show, the work was a combination of print making and painting, and I had entered them under mixed media. The jurors and submissions had changed over the years and mixed media now meant something else, like our culture has changed over the years. I never changed the submission category. Here was the problem, not that the paintings weren’t good enough. They had evolved and weren’t what they used to be, but I was still trying to put them into the old mold. I stepped into my responsibility, picked up my pride and stuffed it into my back pocket. I then began to reinvent my sculptures and got to work. I invented a new way to put the broken pieces together. My sculpture process expanded and grew. This wouldn’t have happened if I had not been knocked down and broken.

I was ready. I was rebuilding and re-evaluating how I wished to create. Then the show was cancelled. Did it really have to take a pandemic to get my put of my rut? When the worst thing you can image has happened and you are still standing, you are given a wonderful gift. This is the gift of freedom and choice. You are strongest where you have mended the broken pieces of your life. I will add to Mr. Lewis’ words that the struggle is of many lifetimes, as you tell the stories of those who came before and weave them into a new vision of who you are becoming. May you find peace today within your soul.