In short, no pattern is an isolated entity. Each pattern can exist in the world only to the extent that is supported by other patterns: the larger patterns in which it is embedded, the patterns of the same size that surround it, and the smaller patterns which are embedded in it. —Christopher Alexander
If you looked closely at the sunflower wall photo in my previous blog post, you might have noticed a sunflower sculpture adorning the space.
Tyhara Rain, a student whom I introduced on the blog a few months ago, created the sunflower for me. Isn’t she the best? Initially, she painted a sunflower, but even though I thought it was beautiful, she refused to give it to me because she was not satisfied with it.
Sunflower by Tyhara Rain
Before I give you an “up close and personal” view of the sunflower sculpture, I thought I’d share Tyhara’s words regarding her journey:
I’ve been doing art since I was 6. I dabbled in pencil/charcoal sketches, oil paints, even photography, but I felt I lacked passion and inspiration for it. I never considered myself an artist because I literally didn’t even enjoy doing art! It was something I could do because I practiced so much. This year, I begged God to help me find a medium I enjoyed. Even if I didn’t believe this was a talent, I understood that God expected me to use any abilities I had for His honor and glory. One of my favorite professors had a wall full of sunflower themed art and I really wanted my piece for her to be special. I remembered how much I enjoyed the process of trying to sculpt a tree last year–but it broke and I totally gave up–and since I had an idea in my head for a clay sculpture of a hand holding a sunflower, I decided to go for it!
Before Painting: Tyhara and the Sunflower
Tyhara shared much of the creative process via Instagram stories–very late at night. Sometimes during sleepless nights, I’d tune in and listen to her chat and watch her create for a few minutes:
When she finished the piece, Tyhara carefully walked through campus to deliver the sunflower to me before a Shakespeare class session. When she unveiled it, she learned that one of the petals had tragically fallen off during transport.
Two more petals followed. It sat in my office while waiting to be repaired:
Then, she visited one afternoon and repaired the sunflower while we chatted:
After a little artist magic…um skill…the sunflower emerged stronger than ever!
In her words–
[Creating this sunflower] was the beginning of a wonderful journey I’ve decided to embark on as an artist. (I finally feel comfortable calling myself that). I’m incredibly thankful for this talent God gave me. Not only did He help me find a medium I enjoy but He pushed me so far outside my comfort zone and far from the mediums I grew up using that I could never again deny that God blessed me with a talent to create as an artist and desired for me to find joy in creating just as He does.
Tyhara has created many, many sculptures since making the sunflower for me–each one more intricate, more detailed. Here are a couple. The vintage album piece is absolutely stunning–and I’m not just saying that because of the sunflowers. [Click an image for a closer look].
Tyhara’s inspiring “journey to the sunflower” underscores an innate desire to create that resides in all of us. Made in the image of the Divine Creator, we are drawn to the creative process and have an almost sacred urge to make our creative mark in the world–no matter how big or small. It takes different forms–art, music, a poem, a story, dance, food, a theory, a lesson plan–but the act of creation involves and allows us to share beauty, love, and light. Joy is the precious outcome.
We had a slight disruption in our sunflower posts due to end-of-the-semester busyness and exhaustion. I crashed seconds after arriving home last night. We’ll make up for it by adding a “sunflower” day next week. Actually, I have enough sunflower material to blog about them for a month! No worries. I won’t.
Five minutes after entering my office yesterday (for no obvious reason) I ended up in a weird head space that made it difficult to concentrate on anything that looked and felt like work. I took a moment with my sunflower wall, carefully studying each image and thinking fondly about how each came to me.
The sunflowers, filled with reminders to be good and kind to myself, gave me permission to slow down the crazy pace at which I’d been working for several weeks straight and pause, even if just for a moment.
My sunflower wall grew tremendously as a result of International Women’s Day 2018. My Love Notes friends filled my mailbox with sunflower after sunflower, and though I’ll share the other yellow flowers I received eventually, today, we walk through a sunflower field together. [Click an image for a closer look].
Photo by Christine B.
Photo by Peg Havener
From Eileen V.
Photo by Litsa A.
I Can! From Gina B.
From Arielle W.
From Connie F.
Handmade by Christine B.
Postcard Back. From Gina B.
The postcards came from Love Noters–Christine, Eileen, Connie, Arielle, Litsa, Peg, and Gina. I received two more that aren’t pictured here; they’re “earmarked” for two other posts.
I “installed” the sunflower wall in front of my primary “work station” one afternoon when I was “fed up” with the dreariness of winter. I needed the sun! Thanks to my Love Notes friends, the sun shines even brighter in my office.
I hope your weekend is filled with light, love, and lots of pauses.
Samantha (Sammoning on swap-bot), from the Netherlands, sent the Eric Carle postcard below for Children’s Book Illustration Postcard swap #30.
Eric Carle, “Summer”
If you’re familiar with Eric Carle, the author/artist of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you probably recognized the sunflower as his work immediately. The postcard comes from the World of Eric Carle 100 Postcards, a delightful collection full of the artist’s brilliant work. There is very little information about the postcard. The image was posted on Carle’s blog almost eight years ago with no other detail but the title. It is part of his “season’s collection.”
By the way, if you need a dose of the warm fuzzies, you should really check out his blog.
Carle has “written and/or illustrated more than 70 picture books.” His collage illustrations are made with hand-painted tissue paper. If you’re looking for a fun (and easy) art project to help you decompress after a long work day, check out Carle’s slideshow in which he shares his technique: How I Paint My Tissue Papers.
You’ve probably figured out by now that I am incredibly blessed to have a number of friends who are artists. They do amazing work and generously spread their light. My friend Lindy, whom I met via swap-bot, sent me the “scripture” sunflower painting above a few years ago.
I was going through a period of deep sadness, but “life” needed me, so I had to continue functioning in the midst of my pain. At times, the only thing that kept me going was the assurance of others that “this, too, shall pass.”
This is what I appreciate most about Lindy’s gift. She could have sent just the sunflower, and for me that would have been enough. But, knowing what I needed, she added the scripture.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5.
The painting reminded me then (and continues to remind me) that there will not always be pain, that if I push through it–if I sow through it–songs of joy will indeed rise in my spirit again.
Lindy is a gifted and prolific artist who offers paint lessons and paint parties from her home studio. You can see more of her work in her Etsy Store, Nana Who Paints. Check her out! I’m sure you’ll find something you like. 🙂
My son’s school holds an art fair annually. Every year, I leisurely visit each display–at least twice. I missed the fair this year because I was in Chicago. I was pretty sad about missing out, so you can imagine my surprise when I walked into the school to meet with one of the teachers and found a lot of the art still on the walls! (I’d been told it had all been taken down immediately after the fair).
If that weren’t thrilling enough–I almost passed out with excitement when my eyes beheld the sunflower display of Ms. Middleton’s second grade class.
“Sunflower Wall,” Ms. Middleton’s Second Grade Class
Don’t you want a closer look?
Ms. Middleton’s Sunflower
Here are the kids’ sunflowers–made with crayola, innocence, and loads of sunshine. [Click an image for a closer look]
Aren’t they beautiful? Pretty impressive for second graders, huh? Their sunflowers are certainly better than any I can draw.
If you love sunflowers, stay tuned. I’ve declared this “Sunflower Week” on Pics and Posts!
Finally, the moment is here to share the art I received and sent for the LYA swap this year. Some swappers share all along, but I like the anticipation, the suspense leading to the day “all” the art is revealed. Then, I spend the weekend perusing the mini art galleries.
Here are the 2018 LYA stats:
804 pieces of art liberated
31 US states
I’ve participated in the Kat Sloma’s swap for the past seven years and every year I reunite with “old friends” and meet new ones. For the swap, participants send five postcards to Kat who mixes things up and sends the postcards–adding her own–into the world over a two-week period. After all the postcards have been swapped, sent, and received, we have a swap party–blog hop–which started today and ends Sunday.
The theme of this year’s blog hop is “Art Brings Light to the World.” That feels appropriate because there is light and beauty in each of the postcards I received.
I received six pieces of art and liberated five pieces.
“Yellow Woman,” Art by Jan
This was the first postcard I received. I don’t know enough about art techniques to guess, but I’ll guess anyway. 😀 Do I see evidence of stamps, stencils, or collage as well as paint and pen?
Although the artist did not sign her name, she left a strong statement–“Desire Art”–or is it the name of her studio?
“Child’s Play,” by Kathy Mc
Kathy and I had decided to side-swap before Kat started sending the postcards, so imagine my surprise when her postcard was the second one I received. She altered a magazine image with acrylic, oil pastels, monoprint, and stamping. It looks like children playing with bubbles! You can find more of Kathy’s art at Sol Sister Studio on Facebook.
“The Holiest Mountain”
From Ireland, another pleasant surprise–a postcard from JMIrishArt, my Instagram/blogging friend, whom I met via LYA. The postcard features her digital art print of Croagh Patrick, Westport, Mayo, Ireland. JMIrishArt works with various media. You can find out more about her and her art on her website: JMIRISHART.
A Streetcar Named St. Charles from Kris McNeil
Needless to say, it was heart warming to receive this snapshot from home, New Orleans. This shot made me long for a nice long ride down St. Charles on the street car. We’ll have to remember to take a ride the next time we’re in New Orleans.
Kris, who lives in Houston, Texas, has an amazing photography blog right here on WordPress. Be sure to check out her blog or any of the other places to find her:
From “sunny Florida”–a colorful manipulated photo:
“Vertical Landscape,” by Annie
According to her note, Annie typically photographs landscapes, flowers, sunrises, and sunsets. Lately, she’s been exploring more abstract work, focusing on shapes, shadows, and the unexpected. She details how she created this piece:
This piece is from a sunset photo where a corner of a building also caught my eye. It was cropped, rotated, duplicated and transformed with several phone apps.
And finally, Kat’s piece:
“Anomalous” by Kat Sloma
As usual, Kat’s art closes out the swap. No matter how beautiful, soulful, or provocative her postcard is, we greet it with a bit of sadness. It means the swap is over and we have to wait a whole year to celebrate again.
I am intrigued by the boldness of this piece, and when I flip the card over to see what Kat stamped on the back, I find that the message reflects the image:
And thank you, Kat, for your work and heart. You’ve not only helped many of us find the courage to share our art but you have connected us to each other and created a community of beauty, light, and heart.
Here’s my liberated art:
I shot all the photos between April 2017 and February 2018. They all have stories that I’ll share some other time, perhaps. One was featured on the blog last year, and one was shared widely for “Yellow Flowers for International Women’s Day 2018.” Can you guess which? 😉 I have a few extras of each, so if you’re interested in “side-swapping,” let me know in the comments or via email (use the contact form on my “About Me” page).
One more thing–you must check out the LYA 2018 video with a sampling of the art submitted. [I’m not in it because I didn’t have a bit of mental energy to think about which photo to send. Eek!]
If you want to see more, click the link below and jump into the blog hop (scroll to the bottom of the post). While you’re there, sign up for next year! You know you want to.
I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago that my student Courtney sent two postcards, and the second arrived before the first. I received the first postcard today!
It appropriately detailed (as much as can be squeezed onto a postcard) her early musings about her life in France. And it features one of my favorite French artists, Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse.
Henri Matisse, “La Chute d’Icare”
If you’ve been following my blog for at least a few years, you might remember my sharing the work of 16 little Matisses that imitate his collage style.
La Chute d’Icare[The Fall of Icarus], from Matisse’s “cut-outs” period of his late career, illustrates the tale of Icarus, the son of Daedalus who ignored his father’s warning and with wax wings flew too close to the sun. Matisse masterfully captured Icarus’ fall through the sky to the sea.
Courtney might know I have a ‘thing” for Greek mythology (re)interpreted in art and literature. Here are a few Icarus poems worth reading:
I heard from Courtney, one of my wonderful students. She is studying in France the 2018-19 academic year, and we promised we’d write to each other months ago! According to her note, she sent two postcards at the same time–the one below was actually number two, written four months after the first. (I haven’t laid eyes on the first one yet). I’m so excited to hear from her and know that she is well.
Here’s the image that evokes many words:
Édouard Boubat (1923-1999), Paris, May 1968
This postcard was the last one of its kind on the rack and the “perfect reminder” to Courtney of me. If she were here, we’d have a long, long conversation about the postcard–the photography, the words, the poem written by French Surrealist poet/novelist/theorist André Breton that inspired the street art turned fine art by French photographer Édouard Boubat.
I asked Louise, my French blogging/penfriend, about the meaning of the phrase, Plutôt la vie. I was suspicious of the “rough” translation, “rather life.” Louise translated the phrase, “Choose life instead.” As with translation, typically, I’m pretty sure there’s still some nuance (in meaning) that can’t be transferred with the substitution of one word for another. We can get pretty close, but we don’t always hit the mark.
It seems almost unfair to share the art without the poem, so here it is:
Choose life instead of those prisms with no depth even if their colors are purer
Instead of this hour always hidden instead of these terrible vehicles of cold flame
Instead of these overripe stones
Choose this heart with its safety catch
Instead of that murmuring pool
And that white fabric singing in the air and the earth at the same time
Instead of that marriage blessing joining my forehead to total vanity’s
Choose life with its conspiratorial sheets
Its scars from escapes
Choose life choose that rose window on my tomb
The life of being here nothing but being here
Where one voice says Are you there where another answers Are you there
I’m hardly here at all alas
And even when we might be making fun of what we kill
Choose life choose life venerable Childhood
The ribbon coming out of a fakir
Resembles the playground slide of the world
Though the sun is only a shipwreck
Insofar as a woman’s body resembles it
You dream contemplating the whole length of its trajectory
Or only while closing your eyes on the adorable storm named your hand
Choose life with its waiting rooms
When you know you’ll never be shown in
Choose life instead of those health spas
Where you’re served by drudges
Choose life unfavorable and long
When the books close again here on less gentle shelves
And when over there the weather would be better than better it would be free yes
Choose life as the pit of scorn
With that head beautiful enough
Like the antidote to that perfection it summons and it fears
Life the makeup on God’s face
Life like a virgin passport
A little town like Pont-á-Mousson
And since everything’s already been said
Choose life instead
Of course, the poem deserves a more in-depth reading, but on first glance, Breton seems to call on us to see “life” and beauty in the commonplace, in the mundane, and the unexpected, to live a life beyond the dictates and definitions of society, and accept pain as a beautiful inevitability.
Boubat’s photograph masterfully captures the intention of the poem.
I went on a brief trip to Chicago–for the College Language Association’s (CLA) annual convention–late last week. The conference is always a treat, and I can’t believe I hadn’t attended since 2012!
CLA was founded in 1937 by Black scholars and educators to strengthen teaching and scholarship in literature(s) and language(s). The organization was formed because, at that time, Black scholars were excluded from the Modern Language Association (MLA), which is considered the “flagship” organization for English and Language professors. Like today’s MLA, CLA’s membership is open to all scholars in literature and language studies.
The annual convention is a huge academic reunion, where we test theories, exchange ideas, and (re)connect with friends from our undergraduate and graduate school years, former students–now professors themselves–our own former professors and mentors, and colleagues from all over.
Today, many CLA members, like me, are members of both organizations. As much as I appreciate MLA, it is CLA that gives me a sense of purpose, affirmation, and community.
I read a quote yesterday, posted by a friend on Instagram, that perfectly expresses how I feel about the conference:
Paradise has never been about places. It exists in moments. In connection. In flashes across time. –Victoria Erickson
CLA is about the moments we get to spend together as scholars and friends who support, encourage, and inspire each other.