You are Worthy!
For the months of September and October, 2020 I have been working on a new drawing series entitled You are Worthy, which features images of rodents and gourds surrounded by highly decorative borders. My style for this series is inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts, but instead of using acanthus leaves (one of the most used decorative elements in medieval art) I used squash leaves on the vine along with their bright orange blossoms. Each border tells the tale of the events that led up to the central image. I used gold and silver metallic ink to enhance the decoration in many places, or to reinvigorate the shine in the decorative background papers I like to use. I love to use decorative papers to draw on: marbled, Florentine, damask, old wallpapers, etc. For me marbled papers enhance the fairy tale aspect of my work because they were so often used in bookbinding. Damask speaks to me of luxury and wealth, so I use it to send the message either of abundance, abuse of wealth, or of fleeing materialism in search of something greater. Yes, I realize these can be contradictory messages, but I do believe that we all deserve abundance AND that one can be too wealthy to the point that it harms humanity and the earth.
The point of the You are Worthy series is to show that we are all worthy of abundance. Gourds have traditionally been used as symbols of abundance in America, and rodents are often seen as lowly creatures with no real purpose. I have identified with mice for too long in my own life, always trying to stay quiet and small and unseen. Hopefully I’m done with that, but it seems to be a continuous battle to stand up for your truth. It’s hard to realize our gifts are needed and valuable to others since we tend to take our own genius for granted. How do you identify a real genius? They are someone who tells you about their way of seeing things, blow you away with it, and then are genuinely surprised that you have never seen things that way. Sometimes this comes off as arrogance, but with a true genius it comes from a place of humility. They may have been trying to stay small with their insights because they think everyone has them and they aren’t special in any way. Stepping into your power means realizing that you have something special to say and saying it loudly. I believe that genius is a continuum, and we all have at least some of it, from mouse to lion.
I also want to say that the term “abundance” has a mixed reception these days. I personally identify myself as “practical woo,” which means I take many spiritual and “new age” philosophies to heart, including the law of attraction, but I also believe in planting my feet firmly upon the ground and getting my hands dirty in this earthly life. Spiritual abuse and bypassing is real. The law of attraction has been used to abuse with its insistence on constant positivity even in the face of deep emotional trauma. Donald Trump is a result of such toxic misuse of the LOA. Apparently his father insisted so much on positive thinking that his children grew up incapable of admitting to weakness or vulnerability even at the cost of the health of our nation.
When I talk about abundance I mean something much more rounded and healthy, and something that includes much more than money. We all deserve health, love, shelter, food, comfort, stability, and support. Often these things require money, but they shouldn’t. If we genuinely believe all people deserve abundance then we must work toward that end on everyone’s behalf. Using your positivity to attract abundance means so much more than thinking your way to personal financial wealth. We all must use our optimism and hope to create a better world for those with less privilege. To me this is the end result of positive thinking. In a world where everyone was truly equal and truly had all their needs taken care of we would all benefit. Remember that we all have genius within us, and whenever someone is denied their potential we will never benefit from what they have to offer humanity.
Despair over the state of the world is widespread and natural, but it too often becomes paralyzing. We post our fear, our anger, our sorrows on social media, deceiving ourselves for a moment into thinking this takes the place of action, but also knowing deeply that it is no substitute. The horror show is overwhelming to the point that we feel incapable of making any difference, so we shut down. Many of us realize we don’t know enough about how to make real change happen. The world is burning, I need to grab a fire hose! Where do I find a fire hose?
Luckily, there have been activists working diligently on creating a better life for everyone since time began. Many of us are only recently becoming aware of the depth of the issues, hence the overwhelm, but there have been people actively working on these issues forever. Thinking optimistically means looking up these organizations and figuring out how to fund them, amplify them, support them, or join them. Enough of despair! There is real work available for you to create the world you want to see, but you can’t do it alone. It is not your job to be a hero or bust.
There’s my soap box. This is why for the months of September and October I will be donating 10% of the proceeds from non-bird art sales to Black Voters Matter Fund, a non-profit founded in 2017 in Atlanta, GA to mobilize Black voters and end widespread voter suppression among people of color. Let’s do what we can to ensure everyone can vote safely and swiftly in November.
Stay tuned for more blog posts diving into the stories behind specific pieces in the You are Worthy series.