Category Archives: Uncategorized

art hygiene

In regards to “art hygiene”:

With the safety of my clients and customers in mind, I have compiled a list of practices (old and new) to ensure that your purchase doesn’t arrive with any unintended bonus contaminants.

*Materials are sanitized as possible.
*I work with washed hands.
*I will not work or interact with works or materials when I have any symptoms of a communicable illness.
*Materials and products live in quarantine space for a month before delivery/shipment/sale. (All pre-made items have already been isolated for a month. If something is posted for sale but needs to stay in quarantine for longer, I will include the date that it is available.)
*Packaging for shipping will also be sanitized and isolated until needed.
*When packing items, I will have clean hands/clean gloves and take all other necessary measures to eliminate contact with any possible exposure sources. Exterior of Package will be sanitized if able and remain in isolated area until mailed.

I know we all want to do as much as possible to keep each other healthy; and I want y’all to know what level of safety you can expect from my work and products.
Stay home.  Stay safe. Stay Connected.

art hope cope

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Printing Here, This Might Help books for community organizations in an effort to increase access to evidence-based mental health and stress coping strategies. Many communities have very limited access to these necessary tools and Here, This Might Help strives to provide a basic guidebook for stress management and keeping perspective and motivation during difficult times. These skills are presented in a way that encourages adaptation to one’s own perspective and experience.

These tools are not meant to replace professional mental health care, and we have included resources for additional support and signs that one should contact professional support to determine if additional strategies or measures could be of benefit.

We appreciate any support in our endeavor to get good coping skills to all members of our community in need.

Be Excellent to Each Other; Spread the Calm.

Support the Project Through Paypal

Nobody More Than the black man: For GiGI

We can make changes now which will benefit all of us, changes which will elevate each and every one of us.  We can make systems more equitable for everyone; we’ve only just begun. We can’t afford to keep leaving folks behind, and we have left a lot of folks behind. Nobody more than the black man.  

We can’t forget the look in black men’s eyes as they spoke their truth and their fear and their frustration. We can’t forget all of the mamas crying out for their babies in his name, standing up for him because his mama is gone.  We can’t forget all the names we have forgotten or never even had the chance to know; we cannot forget all of the humans who have been silenced through years of slow smothering by a system we owe nothing to.  We can’t forget that each of them was human. 

We have to breathe new air into gasping communities…into *our* community.  We owe nothing to a system that continues to threaten our community.  Community needs Equity, Equity brings true diversity, Diversity and Cooperation foster Innovation.  We have got to dispel this notion that, for me to win you must lose.  We need to recognize that this isn’t about inviting folks to the table, it’s about the fact that folks shouldn’t need an invitation and we shouldn’t have the right to give one. We owe it to our community and ourselves. 

We need a bigger table.

It needs to be all of ours, everyone is welcome.  A society can’t be great if each of its members isn’t allowed equal opportunities to reach their full potential and an individual in an unequal society is harmed by the inequities.  

Nobody more than the black man, though.

And nobody more than the black man’s mama, his brothers and daughter…

I hope you remember his daughter; her face, caught in media headlights, searching.

Remember how she hears her daddy’s name echoing in the streets at night but she cannot reach out to touch him.  She can’t wrap her arms around his knee and hide from the crowd and feel safe.

I hope y’all remind her she is strong.  We know because *he* was strong; and her mama is strong.  I hope y’all remind her how fierce his love for her was and i hope that we all remind each other that all ferocity should be in love.  I hope she grows up to realize that the world didn’t turn her father into a martyr or a hero;  the entire world *recognized* his light and rose up, fiercely in love, wanting to *protect* it. Something in the core of every human cried out as we watched that light disappear under the weight of “just another bad apple”.  It echoed through each of us..

You cannot hide away the light

They tried to hide away his light.

They took his life.

But, I hope she knows that they could never take his light.  We all saw it.  Her daddy, somehow, shared it with the entire world and we rose up to say that we won’t let them hide his light. And we won’t let them hide anyone else’s and we will not let anyone so casually take another life. 

I know none of that helps when you’re a little girl who just wants hide behind your daddy’s leg. None of that’ll help her feel safe right now.  But, I still hope she knows just how strong she is because she knows just how strong his light is. So strong it lit a fire in our bellies and our streets and nobody will *ever* hide it away again.

We must continue fiercely *in love* to protect each and every one of us and to allow all of us to shine. 

“Starting today, wherever we may be…”


The notion of “starting today” seems really cliched…but we focus on “today” to ensure that we are looking at the reality of what is in front of us.  That we try to set aside the worries about tomorrows and any past mistakes that may have gotten us just quite *here*. (This doesn’t mean that we won’t address both of those; however, *right now* our attention must remain on the *necessary*s and the *actionable*s of today.)
We have to set everything else to the side.  (I have to picture this as putting these issues, stressors, or uncertainties in neat little labeled boxes and filing them on shelves.  *I* am okay leaving them there for a bit because I know that *right now* I can’t have the right perspective on them yet. Maybe it needs more data.  Maybe I’m too bothered emotionally to focus clearly on it; and, if I can’t focus clearly on it, i can’t begin to solve it.)
So we put away the things that we can’t do anything about right now.
Then we identify the things that don’t need to be done today.  Or maybe even this week. It’s okay to reschedule.  The vast majority of human beings on the planet will understand.  They might want to reschedule anyway. Be excellent to yourself.  (I wrote “forgive yourself if you can’t do a lot of the ‘should do’s”.  But, screw that.  You don’t need forgiving for taking care of yourself. So…be excellent to yourself. 
And be excellent to other humans; their whole world was turned upside down too.
We won’t all deal with this the same way.  And the tragic truth:
(At least in America…)
We are absolutely not given the skillset to cope with a crisis.  We only address the concept of coping once something has already come undone, and the success rate is much lower that way.
Our instincts in a prolonged state of anxiety and crisis are dangerous.  Our brains can lie to us and self-sabotage because our amygdala and hippocampus are diverting all of the attention away from our rational and structured executive functioning.  Basically, our fear-based kill switch is activated, leaving only our emotions and a flood of neuro-chemicals in charge. 
And different people respond to this *glitch* in different ways.  None of them is sustainable in the absence of practiced coping skills.
And, we have to get the other systems running, slap our hysterical emergency copilot, calm down the whole crew (you might wanna drink some water and stuff, adrenaline crash can suck).  We have to *actually work* sometimes just to keep focus on the next actionable thing in front of us. 
But that is what you have to do today; the *next actionable thing*. And you keep doing that, for as many todays as you need, until you’re adding in more and more pieces back, and have more accurate information, and you have gained more clarity and can re-examine issues.

Okay….so, start today wherever we may be.
But…where am I? 

This is a question we all must assess on our own; many different variables need to be considered.  Examining these points and accepting the information (rationally agreeing that they are *reality*, not that you are okay with that reality) are the necessary first steps to setting up a functional framework for adapting and coping to events as significant as this.

*Accurate information: having access to and understanding unbiased evidence-based information and news coverage is necessary.
Limits are also necessary.
There are currently lots of data gaps because we are living a couple days (at least) ahead of the data and we are also receiving data from multiple moments in the timeline all at once. 
There will be a specific video about coping in the absence of clear and accurate data. 
Basically: we definitely want to receive public health alerts in our area, check local data regularly, and keep informed on our own community’s endeavors.
We should check national and global headlines when able, but we can’t get sucked into every city’s story and every article on the genetic origins of the coronavirus; there is just too much, and it is perpetual. (I currently have an ever-growing folder in my bookmarks specifically for things I should read, but not necessary right now.)

*Meeting immediate needs for us and our family.  Essential needs include:
   – biologic: food, water, digestion, sleep, exercise*, hygiene, necessary medical treatment
   – social connection.  Digital connection can affect us in the same ways (neurochemically, psychologically…) and, while it is hard to forego physical affections beyond immediate households, our friends and family are the same in video calls.  Seeing their faces and hearing their voices (or any alternate means of communication) maintains our bonds with them.
   -safety/security: every one of us feels threatened here in some way.  And this is an area that can be more complicated for us.  But it is important to look at how safe/threatened we feel in terms of physical health, psychological wellness, family security, and financial security. The idea is to separate the threats into categories; “irrational”, “potential” or “can’t assess”, and real/likely. There will be more on this later but, basically, the goal is to keep focus on the actions we can reasonably take now to prevent, minimize, or rebuild after any fallout. 

*Identity/Self-confidence and Purpose: it is completely understandable that we will begin to feel inadequate or insecure; many of us have shifted focus away from things that gave us a sense of purpose.  Nearly everyone is feeling the effects of being largely isolated from society when something *this enormous* is happening.  We feel helpless. Maybe we are feeling compassion fatigue and fear that our morality is changing (it isn’t…don’t worry).
 So what can we do now to feel like we are moving forward?
 We want to assemble structures as a solid foundation for moving forward. 
A simple way to start is to ensure we are meeting all of our basic needs, recognize what is actionable and address threats to safety/security, and have good information on our current situation and the needs in our community.  With all of this, we each have to find needs we can help fill.  Some local organizations need immediate assistance and risk is low but should be assessed by contacting their coordinators.  We may see needs around us that aren’t being addressed.  Some of them will speak to us because we have something to offer.  We should find ways to become involved in community efforts that relate to who we are.  We need food bank volunteers, advocates, and crisis counselors; and we need comedians, seamstresses, carpenters, babysitters who have been responsibly isolating, rube goldberg machine makers, online bookclubbers, rational voices, songwriters, and shoulders to cry on.  We are all necessary.
We need solid structures, but it is also necessary that we have a soft place to fall.
Stay connected to support systems.  Locate and save local community resources; we may need them or we can share them with others.  We need to foster cooperation and support in our communities.  We need to listen to others; their experience may be different than ours and we should ensure all experiences are understood.  We need to support others.  We can be part of the soft place and also need support at times.  Remember to honor both.

*i have never found another (healthy) way to cope (and i have been given many opportunities and tried numerous approaches).  The good news is this one works for pretty much everything…just sometimes it needs some adapting or support.

That’s what everything needs when it isn’t quite fitting neatly…adapting and support.


Resources Document

More on Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow is Upside Down

Part 2 (When you’re ready)


Next: Locus of control/serenity n coming to terms

Thoughts on life’s increasing Strangeness and surviving a global paradigm shift

Things have been hitting me in chunks. I have decades of defense mechanisms, being drowned out by coping strategies, still humming at increasing volume (like cicalas in the shrubs) until it all drops out and I have to focus only on what is in my bubble. Because the background noise is terrifying. It is this bitter cacophony of out of sync conductors and drunk choreographers echoing forward misstep by misstep as we watch our future played out unthinkable tragedy by catastrophic loss of humanity.

I want to reach my arms from Texan isolation to help scoop folks out of these indignities while also frantically waving at oblivious exceptionalists, shocked by the inaction. We are all somehow shuffling through a global trauma right now, and there are many different human responses to trauma or crisis. We are also still at a point (in the United States, at least) where some people can’t begin to move forward because they have not yet acknowledged the evidence of our current reality. There are a few types of psychological reactions to crisis that can lead to dangerous levels of denial. I think we’re seeing a lot of those, as well as people who aren’t being given data in a way that they can digest. When this starts to peak, I think it will be hardest on them. The whiplash is going to be dizzying; be kind. Anxiety is a normal and healthy response and I have been moved by how freely folks are sharing resources to protect each other’s mental health.

We don’t want each other to fall through the cracks.

That’s something I think we’re all going to need to cling to for quite a while. This is going to cause ENORMOUS fallout and drastic shifts in psychology and sociology on a *global level*. There are mass grievings of humans in multiple countries now, whose loved ones got sick, went to the hospital alone, died alone; those humans mourning in isolation, funeral services made impossible (an especially tragic experience for anyone whose cultural burial practices cannot be upheld). We will have many months of grief and mourning and we have to be prepared to help people truly mourn.

We have got to keep people feeling connected (and being connected) to each other.

I wonder what the data will show about the pandemic’s impact in so many areas of human existence: effects on people who had to go without physical intimacies like a hug for weeks or months, in what (expected and unexpected) ways will this affect the psychology and behavior of young humans at different stages of development. Most of these thoughts get placed neatly to the side because we can’t know until this is over and there is little to do now to significantly minimize that fallout.

But our citizen’s mental health throughout this crisis and rebuilding? That is something we can work to protect now, and we have to.

Will we keep fighting over the money and ignore that a significant portion of the population is in compounded mourning, many will develop PTSD even if they don’t directly experience a personally traumatic event, and nearly everyone is experiencing dangerous levels of stress and anxiety.

Our politicians, city officials, and news outlets need to be as direct as the data. The only thing to combat the panic right now is facts. Not half-truths that will let them down in a week and create greater distrust and increased helplessness.

Helplessness: Involve your communities in planning and developing solutions and ways to move forward through this. Give us the blunt truth, humility, compassion, a common goal and something actionable to help move forward.

We cannot cling to the idea of going back to a previous sense of “normal”. We all need to really digest that information and find constructive ways to build from where we are.

This isn’t a “starting over” though. It will hopefully move us forward further than our past trajectory would have. But it is so important that as many people as possible understand how broken things will get *before they break*. We need to acknowledge the trauma now.


Our reaction to trauma and crisis is not like other mental health issues. It is a physiological response and inherent to how our brains operate. The effects can be mediated through direct, accurate, and compassionate information, access to supports, and finding a way to involve entire communities in response and support (from home as well). If we all feel we are actively working towards the same goal and moving through this together; we will absolutely survive this. Our individual and societal health depends on giving its citizens purpose in the uncertainty and the tools to support themselves and others.

We *can* catch each other when we fall, instead of waiting until after the crash to collect the fallen.
It’s vital that individuals and communities have resources at hand during the breaking so they can avoid more turmoil in the midst of chaos.


If, somehow, you can’t relate and this all sounds like the wrong set of priorities to you: The country depends on a healthy economy and healthy workforce. Our workforce can only return to “health” if citizens have access to supports and can take care of themselves and their families. People can’t take care of themselves or their families if they are not dealing with the human response to trauma.

The Hygiene Precautions we should all take when any communicable illness is spreading.

I realized this morning what a major source of my frustration has been with government and media focusing entirely on *basic hygiene practices* as defense against the spread of coronavirus.

With the United State’s severely limited testing capabilities, the community should be *extra* vigilant about hygiene. The released posters contain nothing more than what I teach my six year old for cleanliness/illness prevention.

But everyone should be practicing “interacting with the immuno-compromised” hygiene. These are the extra precautions I take in my life when risk of communicable disease is higher. They are not unreasonable. And the population at large adopting and practicing these measures is the absolute best way to limit its spread and lessen the impact on our more vulnerable citizens.

[List is a collection of preventative/containment measures recommended for a variety of different “bugs” and some practices I have developed in response to things like keeping one sick kid from infecting the other in the same house, when i want to visit my bestie during flu season (she is on immunosuppressants), that time i was hospitalized with the flu, the time i was stopping poison ivy exposure, and just generally during flu season or when we are having more house guests.

So *definitely* do these if you or someone in your house is more vulnerable. And if your household interacts with a greater population of people, it’s probably good practice at the moment.

Consider doing these if you’re anyone else within your abilities and reason.

(The CDC posters cover the bases. These are just applying those basics more broadly.)

In Public:

Do a Risk/Benefit analysis of any large-group activities. Stay home when possible, especially if you feel sick or have a fever…even if it’s mild.

Wash your hands well after interacting with any surface that is more likely to have been exposed to “bugs”.

In public spaces, limit the items your body contacts; use one hand to manipulate doors, elevator buttons etc and don’t lean on walls or railings or place your belongings on public tables. Make sure to not use this hand until i have washed/sanitized it.

Sanitize hands *before* and *after* interacting with public items such as: sign in clipboards/tablets/computers, community tables.

(Just pretend everything is a seedy bar or gas station restroom…though, that might be drastic depending on your general level of hygiene.)

(I’ve always had logical issues with coughing in your elbow…and then switching to elbow bumps. Well…i have issues with the concept of washing your hands regularly, but coughing into your elbow. We don’t routinely wash our elbows and they come into contact with public places and other people quite a lot.)

cough or sneeze into own shirt. Maybe that sounds gross…i don’t really know or care. Those droplets are more contained on me and I can control people interacting with my body and cleaning those items.

When I’m sneezy, i carry tissues and sneeze in tissues. I dispose of the tissue (or i have a place in my bag for dirties). I sanitize my hands. The place in the bag for dirties gets cleaned regularly. (Think reusable/machine washable snack bags).

At Home:

Put toys with lots of pieces and household items that are harder to clean away when they aren’t necessary. Consider putting some things in “preventative quarantine“. When “bugs” are going around at the boys’ school, the legos go up for awhile. So do “extra pillows”, more interactive “coffee table items”, etc.

I change my air filter. I change it again, if we get sick, once symptoms are dying down.

Same thing for sheets.

Lysol multi-surface is amazing.

I nightly do a quick wipe down of all public surfaces in the house (fridge handles, trash cans, doorknobs too) and any items (like nintendo DSs) that get more interaction.

I’m a morning shower person, but I switch to nightly showers when my sick risk is high. Picked this up with ways to lessen seasonal allergy “contamination”. By bathing at night, you eliminate transferring all of the days allergen accumulation into your bed.

If one person is sick and others aren’t: they’re more self-contained. Ex: I’ll set the kiddo up somewhere with the necessities and I facilitate things beyond that. There is at least a separate place for used tissues, a way to sanitize hands, snacks as able, water or gatorade and entertainment. I switch and wash clothes/blankets/ sheets every night (as needed). I disinfect anything coming in or going out (within reason…i’m not like setting up a cleaning chamber or anything…but if my kid coughs on me i’m gonna change shirts). They obviously have free travel to the restroom. If they are super snotty, they get extra baths. The steam also helps clear mucus.

Dirty laundry is moved from more centralized location to only by the washing machine.

Stuffies (and other items) often end up getting quarantined for around a month. Appropriate items are placed in well sealed bag (trash bag will work when tied without gaps and placed in an out of use location).

I check the kids for a fever before going anywhere public. They aren’t great at self-reporting. I wait 24 hours fever free (without a fever reducer) before they go back to school or interact with public at large.

Interacting with People in public and small groups…or 1 on 1.

You should never be pressuring any kind of physical contact with people anyway…but definitely don’t make someone feel bad or be offended if someone doesn’t want to hug+.

Maybe make your go-to a fancy head nod or hat tip. Give people space and give yourself space. Don’t be cruel in limiting contact; be reasonable.

If you don’t know a person, give them space. In grocery stores, lines in public, elevators…

Shrink your space if you can before imposing on their’s. You don’t know everyone else’s risk status. Your understanding that it probably won’t be a huge a deal if you get it shouldn’t keep you from understanding that it may be a big deal if the woman in the elevator next to you does. Don’t minimize other people’s precautions and echo them when interacting.

They know better than you do (or i do) what they need from the public concerning interactions. Now is certainly not the time to make anyone feel bad for “not being friendly” while y’all are sharing public space.

Consider sharing disinfectant supplies in public if a situation warrants it. If you saw someone sneeze over a sink in a public restroom, maybe wipe it down before you wash your hands well. Share travel hand sanitizer if someone doesn’t have any.

If you are giving things to people or receiving items, consider disinfecting as possible.

Video call with friends/relatives who are higher risk for complications even if you aren’t symptomatic at all.

If you feel sick or have a fever, stay home. If you have to leave home; severely limit contact with non-personal items, don’t get on that first elevator with the group of 11…wait for the next one.

Cough in your shirt.

Be Excellent to Each Other.

*I may realize later that I forgot some good ones and come back.

*I also may make an illustrated version if that might be helpful.

When an artist wants to talk about a pandemic

Coronavirus

Why do Americans have to polarize everything? I have seen some of the most appalling avoidance of actually digesting relevant information about the, now pandemic, new strain of coronavirus.

Arguments:

-government conspiracy: a textbook from 70’s mentioning coronavirus means that this isn’t a new virus. Yo. It’s a new strain of coronavirus, which is why it has the fancy name of COVID-19. Coronavirus is a family of separate (but similar) viruses.

-people saying to stop making it political when other people bring up the barriers to diagnosing and tracking the virus in this country caused by our healthcare system: Citing relevant information isn’t making anything political. Lamenting the actual political actions which are creating even more barriers (like gutting the federal program that was equipped to properly handle a pandemic) isn’t even really “making it political”. Facts are non-partisan.

Here’s the worst…

American exceptionalism sucks and is what will kill a lot of folks in this country.

Viruses don’t give a fuck.

Viruses mutate and grow stronger, really rather quickly, when left to reproduce.

Yes. It is a flu-like virus; and we all know how much people hate getting flu shots because they’ve never gotten a bad case. Bad cases aside, we still have a vaccine for the flu (variable efficacy) and some responsible percentage of people in this country *get* the vaccine.

That slows the spread of the flu and its unabated ability to reproduce.

We have medicines that are built to help fight the flu and lower its mortality rate.

We don’t have any of that for coronavirus.

Now, am i saying we should all freak out because everyone is going to die now?

No.

But there are a lot of factors that are truly concerning here.

*This virus has been shown to survive *on surfaces* up to 2 WEEKS. Reference point: the flu survives on surfaces for 24 hours.

*There is at least one known case of re-infection. A person tested positive, was treated, recovered, was exposed again to the virus and re-contracted it. It seemingly wasn’t a (much) weaker response either. So, the antibodies we create to fight the virus may not be protective against future exposure.

*Now that we have cases that aren’t related to the original outbreak, we don’t have the capacity to contain its spread. Or effectively track it.

*other countries are shutting down schools and churches for weeks/more than a month in an attempt to slow down the virus’s spread.

There are countries reporting roughly 1 in 50 mortality rate in confirmed cases. (No, this isn’t directly representative of deaths/cases. Especially since there is evidence that the *known* and *suspected* cases are not the *only* cases. But this is true for numbers on anything…like the flu).

*Ecosystems tend to evolve and “intervene” when a population is threatening the balance in an ecosystem. They like to evolve viruses to this end. The notion that any new virus going pandemic *is not* an issue is absolutely ignorant.

Knowing all that…And watching American exceptionalism growing stronger is concerning.

All the healthy young adults brushing it off entirely because “so what? It’s like the flu..”.

Healthy young adults who have no concept what a pandemic actually is because we have things like vaccines, treatments, and government programs dedicated to preventing and managing outbreaks of communicable diseases.*

All those healthy young adults heading towards spring break and muchos, um, close contact and lax hygiene. (Y’all wash your hands after that keg-stand, bros?).

So, should we all panic? No, but we also shouldn’t ignore the real risk to the point of doing nothing to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. And please don’t dismiss relevant, factual information because your experience says that your healthy young adult body shouldn’t worry about something “like the flu”. Healthy young adults have children. They have parents. They have friends and colleagues with autoimmune disorders or in treatment for cancer. And viruses can grow strong enough to kill healthy young adults in the absence of treatment and preventative measures.

Focus less on how sick *you* might get and more on what you can do to limit the virus’s ability to spread through our communities.

Wash your hands, cover your cough, be excellent to each other.

The Great Taco War

In 2018, San Antonio celebrated its Tricentennial. One of the city’s celebrations of our history was “Common Currents”; 300 artists were each given a year to represent, as a painting, dance, short film, etc.

I was honored to be asked to join up with a poet and friend of mine, Jason Gossard. He wrote an amazing piece about the heated internet incarnation of a decades old battle of bragging rights to the “Best/Original/Authentic Breakfast Taco. He wanted an illustration to match his work and represent this moment in San Antonio’s history. The battle wasn’t a new one and history was on our side, but the braggadocio was on their’s. An “official” Taco-off was held (they even had home-court advantage), but Austin chefs didn’t even show up to the challenge.

The collaboration showed in March of 2018 at the Mexican Cultural Institute in San Antonio.

I hope you’ll enjoy this piece as much as I did making it.

Social Impact Statement

Social Impact Statement:

Sara Barcus 2020

  Fully aware that the only actions and words I have any control over are my own, my aim is only to do what I feel is right and hope that my life’s impact is a positive one.  The following are my Principles of Impact:

1. I would like others to not have to hurt in ways i have or otherwise.

2. I would like others to have tools and support for struggling.

3. I would like others to feel I have added something positive to their experiences.

4. I would like to honor those I love with my actions in this world.

5. I will always listen and seek to understand as much as I am able.

6. I will remain genuine and honest.

7. I will work, always, to perpetuate *fair play* in an infinite game over winning a finite one.

8. To create is to provide more connections in a world where we can often feel detached. I will build as many connections as i am able while here.

Background:

It seems that we all have to spend years learning about the world and ourselves before we can fully discover what life has to offer in the way of meaning and success.  We look for purpose, and we find it in a multitude of ways.  

Victor Frankl discovered an undeniably important fact of human existence: finding a purpose, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant in the grand scheme of things is essential to mankind’s will to survive.  A purpose does not guarantee survival or sanity; but the absence of one can hasten one’s death, especially in the face of struggle.

I was tormented for years; i was struggling and couldn’t see that I had anything to offer this world which could be considered “meaningful”.  Frankl provided the ultimate loophole for St Jude’s flock of lost causes, of which I was undeniably a member:

“There is purpose and meaning in the graceful endurance of one’s struggle”

To merely persist can be truly noble.  

To simply survive, when survival seems impossible, is a meaningful and important act.

Without a previously recognized and structured belief system, this concept saved my life.

What is a Social Impact Statement:

*(Most businesses and professions have statements of purpose, mission statements, artist statements, etc; this is in the same vein)

I decided to come up with a Social Impact Statement as a way to communicate my intentions and expectations of myself in relationship to the world.  essentially, it is the patten which underlies all of my statements of purpose; as an artist, a teacher, a mother, a writer, a human working to cope.  To fully understand *me*; or any individual work, or series, or my business ethics, it is imperative the perspective includes this larger context. Especially, but not exclusively, because so much of my work relies on personal narrative, human communication, and social/emotional growth and honesty.

Relevance (?):

I will likely always question whether my shared experiences could be useful to others.  The past 6ish years though, I have received feedback which consistently shows that my work, my words, or my story have helped others in some way. Other humans who find some connection to or something interesting about my perspective sometimes feel *better* about something.  Folks find my blunt vulnerability refreshing…or comforting. I’m grateful people have shared these things with me; it makes me feel as though creating and sharing things with the world *does* matter in however small a way.

So, it may not be universally relevant; but, maybe it will matter to some one.  And that’s enough of a reason for me.

The Social Impact Statement:

To understand human existence is to see a confused creature endlessly straddling a chasm between utter meaninglessness and true purpose. *I* cannot live a life with any purpose at all if it has no meaning or value to something outside of myself. And i can contribute nothing honest until i know how insignificant *i* am *to *life*.  

*Life* must, therefore, be based more on humility and connections between humans and things, and ideas. Life must be less about personal gain and transitory emotional well being; life is (and has always been) about furthering life.

Human society has expanded the concept of furthering life beyond procreation and natural biology/physiology.

Humans are able to easily and instantly share information with other humans and groups of humans without ever meeting them.  We further others’ life experiences and our own more and more through social interaction and shared knowledge. This is equally beautiful and terrifying, especially when the interwebs is concerned.

There are so many things that we try *not to* communicate.  They are messy, or scary, or we think that we are so flawed that people wouldn’t understand.

But those are the things that really connect all of us.  We are all flawed. And we’re allowed to be, we’re meant to be. There is no ultimate perfect or ultimate good.  We are all just striving to do the best we can with what we have where we are. Our circumstances and histories are different; but the trying and the making mistakes, the doubt, the joy, heartache, love, grief and fear, inadequacies and victories…those are universal. 

Examining the human condition through introspection and social analysis, I learned to people by learning about people.  I listen… a lot. I’ve learned that you will understand that You are understood when I am vulnerable. I won’t feel alone if I talk to others who have been there. We all want to feel understood and connected to things less mortal that ourselves.

So, I want to create things that make new connections for people to grab hold of.  And I want to create things that are honest and vulnerable; things that help people feel understood.

In addition to the intention of a meaningful impact, the method of purpose creates more meaning in immediate actions and experience.  For me, the method of purpose has four reasonable classifications:

Analysis

Synthesis

Function

Frivolity

Analysis and Synthesis encompass our relationship with the entire universe.  Information, consuming art forms, enjoying a quiet breezy day, listening to a friend; these are all ways we analyze.  And synthesis is creation; what we create with all we analyze and send back into the world. 

Function and Frivolity are categories of action. Our actions either have an inherent purpose in “function”, or they gain purpose in functionlessness by default of “frivolity”.  Without frivolity, though, you can’t truly experience any purpose in the other three. Frivolity of some sort is absolutely essential to purpose.

*A note on personal history in relation to perspective on the comprehensive body of woks.*

My work has always been heavily influenced by illustration, human nature, science, sociology; as much as fine arts.  In 2006, my brain did its first full nope and I was diagnosed with PTSD in March. The only way i found to cope, was to turn all of that messy mishegaas into *something*. Matter can be neither created nor destroyed, only transferred or transformed.  The only way I could restructure my perspective was to try and make it *mean something*. And the most effective way I knew to communicate was the artworks.

The work I created in those initial months became my first solo show “Memories, Remedies, and Nightmares”.  Since then, the bulk of my personal work has been autobiographical in some sense. I suppose every artist’s is, but my intent is to accurately convey a human’s experience; the most vulnerable moments, deepest fears, inside jokes, homages/interactions with social “knowledge”.

I present the resulting creation as something all its own, leaving the viewer to create their own connection to it.  I love hearing what people see in my work, what connections they made. I usually don’t like to “explain a piece” because it closes off potential connection.  Retrospectively, I feel the context of individual creations can now serve my work (as a whole) without compromising the viewer’s ability to connect and interact with individual pieces and series as before.

Moving Forward at an Indiscernable Speed

Time is such a flimsy, fickle construct.
Internet time stands still, making a life look unproductive when one is busy away from the internet.
The past 6 months have brought so many new and wonderful opportunities and I have been running with them, just trying to keep up.

I have been discovering the joys of encouraging creativity and confidence of artistic experimentation in children. It feels wrong to call myself a “teacher”…I’m more a facilitator.
I have been working with a gallery, Hijole SA, in the southtown arts district which has provided the opportunity of working with some amazing artists and human beings.

The past month, I have been really focusing on my series “There Is Hope in This World”. I finished, and showed, the first “volume” of the series and am now working on compiling the current collection into a book.

There are so many more details to divulge, but I am really excited for all of the new directions my work has been able to take recently.