Artmaking can be like going forward into darkness, not seeing, but knowing something is there.
As a leader for Pacific Northwest Sculptors, I regularly wonder, What is this group? We are all so very different and changing: new Members, new projects and new insights about our core Mission. Outwardly we have an Educational Mission, manifesting in several ways: sculpture demonstrations, shows, studio tours, and generous sharing of information between Members. Recently, I’ve been looking towards a deeper goal for our group: Community Building. It’s a daunting goal for me personally. I didn’t grow up in a cohesive household. So, while I’ve had several alternative experiences of communities in my lifetime, my original model for a group functioning together was chaotic, negligent and at times tragic. Coping with trouble in my childhood often meant retreating into isolation, alone and without guidance I contrived dysfunctional explanations for the chaos around me. Now I can choose to put even those traumatic experiences into different, broader contexts. I have enough perspective and an abundance of mental health practices (like artmaking) allowing me to easily deconstruct old beliefs, and rewrite old stories, breathing new life into old habits of perception. I don’t have to retreat from challenging relationships, like the present-time challenge of leading a widely spread-out, eclectic group of sculptors.
Last month’s essay featured the story of Prometheus from Greek mythology. Somehow this trend continues referencing Norse mythology. The stories of gods mostly reveal human nature, the scope of our creativity and destruction. Of the Norse gods, Thor and Loki are most well-known. Their even more powerful father, Odin is the embodiment of a paradox, contemplated here. In his story, Odin is blinded in one eye, something vital is taken away, but their disability turns into an empowerment. This partial blindness makes him focus on something beyond and within; by losing one kind of sight, he gained another deeper, broader sight, and this otherworldly vision gave him knowledge and power. This holds true in various ways for us mortals as well. Within a supportive context, persons with altered-abilities, can nurture super-abilities. We can adapt and even over-compensate for disabilities (or perceived deficiencies). I can think of many examples, and it’s easy to apply this to my own life. Significant here, is the fact: I’m a community leader with early childhood traumas associated with family/community. The idea that “Community building is a core mission for PNWS” makes me recoil a bit. Community building seems alien to me. Identifying this “disability” in myself is an example of my insight. And it gives me sympathy for others that feel alienated from society. So, while I’m unqualified in some ways to lead PNWS. I know it’s not me alone. Our group is fundamentally about the relationships between us, and what we choose to do as peers.
The year ahead will be full of opportunities for PNWS Members. Events, shows, tours and meetings. These can be opportunities to share your art, to promote business, seek out technical information. My hope is underlying all that, people are relating well with each other, relationships that are inclusive and enduring. Please, keep showing up and sharing. Bring something to show and watch, listen and learn. We are all teachers and students in this group. And I really encourage you to support leaders; join a committee; introduce yourself to a Board Member, or Host a Studio Tour! The schedule for 2024 studio tour/potlucks has not been formed yet. Contact me <email@example.com> or Meetings chairperson Bob Deasy <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you’re willing to host a potluck/studio tour. Thank you all for a great year. Thank you for showing up!
+++Andy Kennedy President PNWS Board of Directors