I heard a beautiful story. In traditional villages, there is an understanding that when someone weeps and wails inconsolably, or another drinks too much to numb the pain, Someone in the village will lift the fallen up, offer a bowl of soup in gratitude knowing that the Other who has collapsed in mourning, despair, or self-pity… is expressing that feeling for me, too, because today I cannot let myself go there. Artists of the Spirit do this also. When you take the time to see and listen for what is moving through you, to express without inhibition the truth of what you are seeing, hearing, or feeling… you are also making this image, this prayer for Someone in the world who will be lifted up by it, who will understand their own heart.
Making art is a healing prayer. Right now, the world needs our prayers.
From reports of political and medical heroes on the front lines, human-interest stories, to tyrants occupying the bully pulpit, the world is numb and mesmerized. The world is living a mythic heroic journey. The pandemic is Calling each of us to do Something out of the ordinary; some are Called to take up the mindful practice of Not Doing as we shelter in place; some are called to meditate, soul-search, homeschool, write. . . What are you being called to do?
Last week, Pam England and Barb Steppe heard a Call to create THE COVID BIRTH ART PROJECT which will establish a living and historic record of childbirth during the Covid-19 pandemic told through your birth art. We warmly invite all of you, from all corners of the earth, all walks of life, young and old… to take time to turn off, tune out incoming news and messages long enough to turn your attention inward to listen within to your own unfolding story, to see your migrations through the dreamscape of the pandemic.
Barb has already built The Covid Birth Art Gallery to house your creations and stories. It is empty now, but as you send your creations and stories, it will become sacred ground. You can visit it at thecovidbirthartproject.com
I used to wear a custom button that read: “ART SAVES LIVES.” Nothing could be truer at a time like this. Let’s make art to honor all life, to heal what is asking for healing within ourselves and on the planet. One day in the future, in contemplating the symbols and images that convey what words cannot reach, visitors to the Covid Birth Art Gallery will find shared meaning, inspiration, camaraderie, and hope.
Throughout history, beliefs and customs surrounding childbirth have been ever and slowly changing. But during the Covid-19 pandemic, everything we knew or expected from prenatal care, Mother Blessings and showers, medical protocols, who could be or would be at the labor or postpartum, and the birthplace has turned on its head. The rapid changes from day to day are unsettling. We are sensing our way through a darkened labyrinth in search of safety and personal and spiritual meaning. We are questioning birth in our culture, being courageous, and doing what we never would have planned to do. So, “In a post-Covid world,” Barb was mulling over, “we will still buy gas and groceries and go to the dentist much the same as we did before the pandemic, but birth in our culture has changed because we questioned everything,” and we are becoming heroes in our mythic journeys by doing the “One Forbidden Thing.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AND DO:
“The artist’s task is to record courageously what is experienced.”
–Artist Lynnie Rothan
You don’t have to be a trained or experienced artist to make art. Humans painted images on cave walls 40,000 years ago and we are still moved by the soulful images.
If you don’t have art supplies, order them from an online art store.
Dedicate a corner or a table in your living space as your makeshift art studio. Over the years I’ve made my studio in my kitchen, bedroom, a corner of the house, and the garage. What’s important is to set up in a space where your art materials and work in progress can be accessed any moment inspiration strikes you. Your “art studio” has to be open whenever inspiration comes, 24-7. If you have to get stuff out and mess up a clean space, the inspiration will pass again and again. You have to be able to stop peeling potatoes or turn off the video on a dime to make a wee tweak or to put that just-so line or symbol in place.
Speaking of kids: There will be a Children’s Art Room in the COVID BIRTH ART GALLERY. Children have active imaginations that benefit from having a pathway to express how they see and feel about their experience of social isolation during the pandemic. When you help them fill out their “ABOUT ME AND MY ART SUBMISSION FORM” add their age, please.
If your imagination is already stirring, just begin. But, if you are drawing a blank, here are a few suggestions:
Images, Night Dreams, Feelings, Experiences, Politics, and Dreamscapes of:
Being Pregnant During the Covid Pandemic
Social Isolation during the Childbearing Year
Birth-Related Health Care
Seeing and Thinking from My Womb: How the Covid pandemic and new protocols changed how I feel about and see my baby, and how “seeing from my womb,” I choose and feel about my birthplace, becoming a mother (father) and other decisions.
When you complete your piece(s), fill out the “About Me and My Art Submission Form.” Follow the instructions on how to take a photo. Send the form and photo to Barb and she will “hang” or display your art and story in the digital gallery.
In case you don’t know Barb Steppe yet, check out her awesome website: freespiritbirth.com. Barb and her family live in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she is a doula and childbirth mentor.