I am in love with things that used to shine.
I always have. The first thing you should know about me is that I am the sentimental type. My family used to tell me I was too sensitive. I never knew how to answer that, but now I would tell them "thank God, that's how I became an artist!". As a child I remember being mesmerized by so many things. And the paradoxes: so foreign and yet so familiar...and that is how it begins, the longing to understand. I recorded in my mind, storing it up for later, but I didn't know that yet. To be honest, that's all an artist does to be true to the craft...pay attention, collect and connect. I'm skipping ahead... but just so you know, there's no magic.
The magic was all around me...from the ancient burial trade beads at a Turkish bazaar with their chips and dings sitting there on a plastic card table. My grandmother's eyes at 99, still crystal blue but tired and faraway, and ready to go but wanting to know about dinner. The elk tooth dress that hung in the Indian museum in Phoenix. I always dreamt of it as a wedding dress, even though I was eight when I saw it. I still dream of it, so many years and still single. The exhibition of King Tut in D.C. when we lived there. I was sixteen, when I saw it, I thought he wan't much older when he died of a common toothache. And then... time happens. And here we are, the chosen ones in a time of a pandemic.
Now I dream in rust and resurrection.
But the paradoxes are even greater now...In Covid health crisis and healing. In civil unrest and in the dream of love for each other. In polarity of government under one nation I still I come back to what makes me stay grounded...the love of things that used to shine.
I am a modern day hunter/gatherer of things that used to shine. The first time I fell in love with rust was over twenty five years ago at least. A friend took me out to the desert of New Mexico. We walked along the dry sage desert, amid all the rust. I gasped, "you mean this is free?!" I gathered up every scrap of days gone by. Someone's trash, not the fresh hefty sack sort off stuff, but the discards from decades gone by. My favorite find was a Christmas tree cut out of a tin can. I'm sure it was a gift from perhaps a husband to his wife. Even back then when I found it I realized: we've become a throwaway culture. From clothes. To appliances. To people.
Not long ago I ran across an article that reminded me of the Japanese art called Kintsugi. Please look it up. Basically, it is the art of repairing a cherished broken piece such as a bowl or a vase with a mixture of resin and gold. For they see the beauty in broken things. The things that once used to shine. They take this broken object and instead of something to throw away or disguise, they embrace the flawed and imperfect nature with gold. Kintsugi actually highlights the strength and staying power of this object, and instead of these "flaws" as an area not only to focus on, but to celebrate! They take care off their elderly as if they were gold, because they are.
I started thinking about it... we could learn a few things from the Japanese. Kintsugi is everywhere! Magnify everyone and everything you hold dear as that will be a part of your healing. Gather and share. This is how we heal.
Think about making your mending an art form. Analyze what was broken, not forgetting what it was, but creating a new life from it that is for the best. This is how we will transform these times.
Because the true beauty of any object or person lies in its flaws. In japan they also have an expression for this called Wabi Sabi, an understanding that everything is perfectly imperfect.
Modern artists experiment with this ancient technique as a means of expressing the idea of loss, synthesis and improvement through destruction, repair, and rebirth. I wish this wasn't the case, but we all know true growth and change comes from hardship. And we all know we are in the midst of that right now.
So the next time the world feels like it's trying to break you--let it. Then let your strength out and revise. Re-create. Stand tall. You are stronger in these broken places.
You are becoming gold.
Nancy + Team Sweet Bird