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Art! Diversity! Our Manifesto Emerges

Judy listens after presenting her group’s thoughts on what creates a sense of welcome.

Art! Diversity! Manifesto:

Does art bridge difference? Yes and no! Sometimes people who don’t understand feel excluded. But not all art has to be for everyone, though the instinct to make art is universal. Art can find a common thread and pull that thread or art can be the thread and is pulled. Sometimes art creates disturbance. Art offends. Art agitates. And yet, art is the vitamin for your soul and if you take vitamins everyday you are more healthy. It is impossible to live without art because every culture and every child makes art naturally. Art centers us in who we are. Use art for relief or release. Art is colorful, art is complex, art is simple, art is magical because you can see the same piece of art everyday and yet your understanding of it changes. Does that mean art changes or we change? Who knows! Art in itself is diverse, universal and personal. Art is dichotic and we made that word up because we are artists and that is what we do.

El Arte! La Diversidad, Un Manifiesto!

¿Crea una puente entre lo diferent el arte? Sí y no! A veces las personas que no lo entienden se sienten excluidos. Pero no todo el arte tiene que ser para todos, pero el instinto de hacer arte es universal. El arte puede encontrar un hilo común y tirar de ese hilo o el arte puede ser el hilo que se tira. A veces el arte crea perturbación. Ofende el arte. Agita el arte. Y, sin embargo, el arte es la vitamina para el alma y si usted toma vitaminas diarias, son más saludables. Es imposible vivir sin el arte, porque todas las culturas y todos los niños hacen arte naturalmente. El arte nos centra en quienes  somos. Usa arte para el alivio o liberación. El arte es colorido, el arte es complejo, el arte es simple, el arte es mágico porque se puede ver la misma obra de arte todos los días y sin embargo, su comprensión de que es cambia. ¿Eso significa cambios en el arte o cambios en nosotros? ¡Quién sabe! El arte en sí es diversa, universal y personal. El arte es dichotico y creamos esa palabra porque somos artistas y eso es lo que hacemos.

-Written on August 21, 2013 by Carol, Phuoc, Jackie, Judy, Molly and Bob

Moments before…

Our group’s map of what it can mean to feel out of place

Our bellies were full of tamales and salsa from Andales Taqueria and Mercado. We had broken into small groups, one group was creating a thought map about what the feeling of welcome looks and feels like. I was in the group that discussed what happens when we feel out of place, and our discussion came from deeply personal places. One insight our group came to is that the feeling of being out of place is often based on a series of assumptions. We assume people are judging us or we are assuming a lot about them. We don’t see our commonalities, when we feel out of place all we see are our differences.

This can be uncomfortable, vulnerable, scary, or cause us to isolate inside ourselves, our homes, or our separate lives. Our conversation was heavy. I gladly moved us on to what was next, which was to share two poems by two of my favorite poets whose work was inspired and written out of this sense of not belonging. Yet in their writing, they transcend this feeling to get to a place of deep wisdom and I dare to say, celebration.

won’t you celebrate with me

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

 by Lucille Clifton

True Myth
Tell a child she is composed of parts
(her Ojibway quarters, her half-German heart)
she’ll find the existence of harpies easy
to swallow. Storybook children never come close
to her mix, but manticores make great uncles,
Sphinx a cousin she’ll allow, centaurs better to love
than boys — the horse part, at least she can ride. With a bestiary for a family album she’s proud. Her heap of blankets, her garbage grin, prove
She’s descended of bears, her totem, it’s true. And that German witch with the candy roof,
that was her ancestor too. If swans can rain
white rape from heaven, then what is a girl to do?
Believe her Indian eyes, her sly French smile,
Her breast with its veins skim milk blue —
She is the myth that is true.

 by Heid Erdrich

These poems encapsulate one of art’s superpowers, which is the ability for us to see the world from someone else’s perspective. When art gives us a backstage pass, we understand that behind all of the plurality of identities we wear there are common human experiences that we can all relate to. The magic of art is that even when it is personal, it is also universal.

The vision for Lyndale Gardens is that it’s a place where art helps us understand each other. We will create spaces for individuals or groups of artists to create new work and create spaces where art is shown. We believe creativity enables us to grow in our understanding not just of others, but also of ourselves. For our last activity of the night we ask each other what art does. We write down each other’s answers. Our Manifesto entitled Art! Diversity! emerges…

Molly Van Avery is the Artist Organizer with Springboard for the Arts at the Cornerstone Group’s Lyndale Garden site. If you want to meet with her to talk about ideas and needs you have as a Richfield or surrounding area artist, email her at mvanavery@tcgmn.com. Join us for the final conversation and free dinner  next Wednesday August 28 from 6-7:30 at 6334 Lyndale Avenue. We will talk about funding opportunities for individual artists and arts groups in the state of Minnesota. Spanish translation available. 

 

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