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Return to Broke-open Art Blog

Since my show in May and June, the theme of the Broke Open Heart has followed me, as has Holding the Fire. Both are titles for specific prayer flags that were in the show. Since that show, I’ve driven from Oregon to Savannah, Georgia creating a 6774 mile loop across the country; and those two themes followed me daily as I walked (and drove) the path of letting go of my husband (who committed suicide in November 2015) and my daughter who drove her own car to Savannah in caravan with mine but did not loop back to Oregon with me. The themes seemed to combine at some point and I have come up with “Broke-open Art.” This, I believe is at last the cohesive theme to my art.


I graduated in 1985 from a college that gave me a BA in two fields I had chosen to study: elementary education and theology. Upon the morning of my ceremony, the head of the Theology Department took me aside and gave me a gift. Two actually. The first was a mobile made of colorful fish woven from ribbon by one of the retired nuns in her convent. It was (and is, for it hangs in my studio) beautiful in its colorful expression of the ethereal, balance, weightlessness and weightiness, held by a cotton thread. The second gift, she had wrapped in a paper towel and was just slightly apologetic in giving to me yet expressed in earnestness some inner call to do so. The second gift was a badly broken conch shell. The irregular edges where the outer shell had broken off framed an inner, soft pink, smooth chamber never seen until the shell was broke open. My professor explained that she felt I had a gift of finding hidden beauty where others cannot or will not.  I need to admit to no longer having this shell. It seems symbolic of the years of not being able to fully accept the gift my professor gave me when she reflected the gift my Creator gave me. It’s a little embarrassing to see how foolish one can be with gifts.


In recent years as my husband’s illness deepened and in the 9 months since his death, I reflect upon the 31 year rather circuitous journey since those gifts were given and finally find myself returning (one giant loop) to this place again where I receive them anew. I think I finally am simply accepting it now, and simply saying, “thank you.” It has been a long and sometimes difficult and dangerous journey. I am deeply grateful to have survived it and to have returned to this place once again. Humbled and wizened both. I see now that what is broke-open not only exposes hidden vulnerability and beauty but also frees the inner passion, the fire. The exterior travels of these years wove me in and out of many situations of vulnerability, beauty, passion and fire but now, broke-open, it all comes from within. Where it really was planted originally.


This realization has prompted a change in the title of my blog. Let us see where else it leads…