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Does Art Matter During a Crisis Like Haiti?

Yesterday, at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, I watched artist Susan Bell paint two bison bulls.  The sun was shining and the bulls seemed content to settle into the sawdust bedding and pose for her.  She'd been painting animals for 3 days, sitting on a small stool, dipping her brush into the rich colors of her oil palate. 

The scene was in stark contrast to gallery owners in Haiti who had survived the earthquake and were trying desperately to salvage their country's art, pulling prized pieces from the debris, compiling lists of the artists and writers who had not survived.When tragedy strikes, like the Haitian earthquake, it's easy to think that the novel we’ve been writing for two years, or the sculpture we've been chipping away at for months, are frivolous endeavors.  Shouldn’t we be doing something worthwhile? we ask ourselves.  What is the point, after all, of art in light of such horrendous suffering?

Yet in today's LA Times, journalist Tracy Wilkinson, reporting from Port-au-Prince's main art museum, quoted Joseph Gaspard, a member of the board of directors of the College Saint Pierre museum, who said, struggling not to cry:

“Haitian art is what makes the international eye see us. Every Haitian is an artist. Art, it is us, it's what we are. Even our children are artists."

What will the children of Haiti paint now?  What kinds of stories and poems will they write?  Will they believe that the quake was the act of a vindictive God, or will they believe that shifting tectonic plates and fault lines were to blame?  How do we reconcile the acts of heaven and earth?  Is the Haitian earthquake just one more example of a huge cosmic shift?  Do tsunamis and quakes on earth mirror a turbulent heaven?   "We are part of a magnificent weaving of Divine energy and all of this energy is undergoing a radical shift in awareness," wrote my friend artist and astrologer Deb O'Connor in her December newsletter.  Deb used to edit Northern Lights, one of the finest nature-based publications in the country. I respect her work tremendously. (view painting on the left).
"If I were to try to summarize the wild cosmic ride we're all taking together, I'd say that every single being--every human, every yellow warbler, every ponderosa pine, every drop of water in the Clark Fork/Columbia/Pacific, every stone and aquifer--is being completely re-configured at the level of consciousness."

"Imagine you are participating in great theatre," she wrote, "and that the planets are Players mirroring back to you cosmic secrets which will lead you through these Interesting Times.... "
"These players," she said, "are sending us extraordinary opportunities to facilitate the kinds of changes we've longed for all our lives. The key, of course, is to pay attention, to keep our minds and hearts wide open, and to be very very brave." The children of Haiti will need brave stories. Stories of survival--perhaps even paintings of American bison, risen from the ashes of near extinction less than a century ago.  They will need to be reminded, once again, that the world is a magical place where heaven and earth can come together.  I like to think that the place where these two places meet is where we dwell when we create our art and our stories--in the land of the muses. (view Sue's bison and other wildlife paintings

Read: In Haiti, some see the spirit world behind the quake.

View Deb O'Connor's Inner Sky Maps (commissioned birthchart paintings).

Attend Susan Bell's "Art for the Heart" opening reception February 11 in Denver.

Go to World Vision and Help a Child.
Check out Artists for Peace and Justice

Get on Deb O'Connor's mailing list


To read original post and view photos: http://pagelambert.blogspot.com/2010/01/deb-oconnor-on-cosmic-shifts-and-susan.html