I get a terrible feeling when I think about debates. Fear doesn’t describe it well enough. It is more like the feeling you have when you are investigating an odd noise coming from the basement. It is the tingle that runs up your spine coupled with intense curiosity and heightened awareness. You head down the stairs and flick on the light and you just don’t know what to prepare for.
The mosaics were as different as the lives of the women who sat in the studio: a variety of colours and patterns, diverse ways of laying the tiles, and mixed shapes and sizes of tiles. As unique as they all were, there were two things that remained constant; the piece had evolved as it was created and the woman had also.
Art is a process. Rarely does the artist create exactly what they originally set out to create. The art itself, as it is forming, sparks new ideas and suggests new directions. The artist’s vision shifts and there is a dance between the piece and the artist, both taking turns leading each other.
The journey from starting the piece to finishing transforms the artist. Her hands act as a conduit between her mind’s eye and the tangible. She is changed a little bit by the placement of each tile: her heart strings are strummed, her patience and concentration are challenged, and her grip on control is necessarily loosened. To create art, she has to let go, and in letting go, she is altered.
Each one of the women presented their piece to the group. She did so with both shyness and delight. The others couldn’t help but see into each artist’s mind and the artist knew it. It was thrilling to be so raw and yet difficult to be so vulnerable. A group of strangers connecting in a profound way and altered by the exchange.
I really don’t like fear. Mostly I really don’t like the feelings I get in my body from fear. My tongue gets wrinkly and my pits get sweaty. My tailbone gets prickly. I can hear my heart in my ears. And my legs feel a bit like two boneless slabs of meat that I couldn’t stand on let alone use to run. This is hardly an ideal body state and worse it happens in situations that make little sense.
We stand up in the classroom. Our chairs scraping on the tile floor. We move beside our desks leaden and face the front of the room. Our arms are slack at our sides and we wait for the cue. I look at the blank blackboard in front of me and wonder why we don’t have a flag to stare at instead. The teacher starts us off “O Canada, our home and native land” and we join in. Monotonous and pathetic. We are just a bunch of kids crossing the anthem off our list for the day.
So what was the draw of standing on the end of a dock? We were thrusting ourselves out away from the shore. We were extending ourselves out onto the water as far as possible to meet the edge of nature and surround ourselves in its beauty. Our feet were on a solid man-made foundation but our bodies were exposed and immersed in nature’s expanse.
I have moved to the hustle and bustle of the city. Within the city limits there are plenty of parks but nothing I would call a forest. There is little space to completely immerse yourself in nature like the kind I grew up with. But I have cravings for it as if it were a nutrient deficiency. Time in the forest feeds me.