“Many things are Fleeting, but not Everything is Fleeting. How we show up for ourselves and each other will stand the test of time.”
~Musea Art Ancestor Carmen Baraka~
Welcome to the first edition of your Quarterly member Zine. As we transition into a new season, Autumn for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and Spring in the South, we feel the importance of acknowledging the magnitude of world events that have transpired over the past three months. They have been reflected by our Community of Creatives and expressed in various forms of Intentional Creativity in both the iMusea app and the Red Thread Cafe Classroom. Processing your personal feelings through these challenging times and supporting others in your life, including the beloveds you work with (if you are an Intentional Creativity coach or teacher), is essential. We have seen so much global activism by women over these past few months, protests against the Roe V. Wade decision in the States, and the courageous women of Iran, many of whom are young women that have lost their lives as a result of protesting. Also, given that Musea’s theme for the month of September was Art Activism, we felt it would be very timely to dedicate this MemberZine edition to issues surrounding Art Activism.
As always, we invite you to choose your own adventure by following the jump links below. Since the Musea Zine is now quarterly, it will be longer than those published previously, and it is our wish that you will feel nourished by the content we are offering, so we hope you will take it in at your leisure as you feel you have the capacity to do so. We also hope that our Quarterly Member Zines, along with additional Museum Programming, can be supportive offerings contributing to the self-care of those within our community.
Musea’s Museum membership includes monthly workshops offered by Chatelle Jeram and Marnie Dangerfield, Museum membership Co-Coordinators, and in this Edition of the Member Zine, Chatelle has written an article that gives a peak into her own artistic process and includes a complimentary Intentional Creativity exercise for those at all skill levels to try.
Museum Co-Curator, Jessica Richmond, has written an article about the connection between Activism and Self-care and Guild Director, Virginia Mason, has included an article about what activism means to her. Co-curator Sumaiyah Yates has shared a powerful piece of art and poetry that she created in response to the repeal of Roe V. Wade. In addition, we have also shared activism-themed Community Highlights from our Intentional Creativity members. Last but certainly not least, Musea Center For Intentional Creativity regularly offers several complimentary workshops that can be found on the website and will be hosting, Vivid, an annual virtual retreat in November. This year’s theme is, Dancing Each other Home.
As you read through this edition, we also want to invite you to consider how your self-care rituals are supporting your ability to show up for yourself and others and to explore how Intentional Creativity can support this process for you.
The Connection Between Self-Care & Art Activism
While the term self-care may not be the first word that comes to mind when you hear about Art Activism, there is an interrelationship between the two, and this brief article will explore why.
Activism (especially art activism for a community of artists) can be a form of self-care. In general, but especially during emotionally challenging times, it is imperative to be able to process your feelings, and Art Activism can be a particularly cathartic pathway for that processing. Activism can also provide access to joining together with like-minded individuals who support the same values or cause, giving you a sense of being part of a community. Activism also provides an outlet for activating your voice and provides a channel for taking action, both of which can decrease feelings of helplessness.
While activism can be a mode of self-care, conversely, it also requires a lot of self-care to participate in activism. One of the definitions of Art Activism is “the dynamic practice of combining the creative power of the arts to move us emotionally with the strategic planning of activism.” The words “vigorous, dynamic, and strategic” each connotate a feeling of energy. When we see a sizeable organized protest group in the street or in front of a building, we can feel the energy behind it; the movement, voices, art signs, and maybe even music. When we see a group standing in front of trees or a water pipeline, we may immediately feel the passion and sometimes desperation of those activists to save a precious environmental resource. Typically, the larger the movement, the more intense the energy. Sometimes the energy can even be frenetic or angry and can evoke a multitude of feelings.
Often, when we focus on the group’s message or get caught up in its projected energy, it is easy to forget that, no matter how small or large, each group is made of individuals. People who have sacrificed something; time, effort, money, perhaps even a conflict with a loved one to be able to show up and participate. Movements do not happen by themselves. There are organizers on many different levels and individuals involved to varying degrees, from a leader who has invested countless hours over a course of many months to protesters who participate in a march for one afternoon or a supporter who donates money.
Art activism can take many wide-ranging forms. Some examples include exhibits advocating for human rights or a performance to raise money for a local community art center. Whatever medium it takes, a great deal of energy investment is required. So how does this relate to self-care? It is pretty simple. If we are not taking care of ourselves, we will not be able to advocate for others. At least not for the long haul. It is very challenging to show up for others when we are not showing up for ourselves. Unfortunately, modern society can make it very difficult to prioritize our self-care, and the systems we are often trying to affect change upon count on this for their survival as they have for centuries. They count on us being too fatigued, too overwhelmed, too impoverished, too busy, or even simply too distracted to be able to join together, organize, and show up for each other. Did you know the expression “Bread and Circus” originates all the way back to Roman times? (Panem et Circum). It referenced how the government could build campaigns to subdue and suppress its citizens with food (bread) and entertainment (circus). Whether we are consistently consciously aware of it or not, these same efforts are still at play now.
With all of this in mind, let’s posit that Self-Care is not only crucial for your personal well-being; it is a form of resistance. adrienne maree brown, a Detroit-based activist and author, refers to this as “self-determined care” and has written an article titled Caring for ourselves as Political Warfare, in which she shares a powerful insight about listening to your body in the context of showing up for activism. In this she writes:
“Learn the language of your body and spirit. Notice how your body chooses to respond in the midst of certain people/certain places/certain types of actions/certain types of inactions/certain times of the day/certain times of the month/certain types of noise/certain types of movement. What do you notice? Does what arises bring you ease or tension? Being numb or not knowing is totally fine too and is also information about how your body is choosing to show up at that given moment. Write down, draw or remember what you discover. Affirm what is happening. Your body, spirit and intuition are such incredible guides that can support how we live. Without judgement, recognize that your body has unique ways of responding to what is happening inside and outside of you. Many of these responses have been powerful protection tools that continue to keep you alive.”
Many of us in the MUSEA Collective have also been deeply inspired by the book of poetry Hard Times Require Furious Dancing by Pulitzer Prize Winning author Alice Walker (with Book Cover Created by MUSEA’s Co-founder, Shiloh Sophia).
“Though we have all encountered our share of grief and troubles, we can still hold the line of beauty, form, and beat — no small accomplishment in a world as challenging as this one. Hard times require furious dancing. Each of us is the proof.”
We are all of us is in different places, circumstances, and seasons of our lives. Art Activism can take many different forms with different levels of energy output, from a prayer in the privacy of your own home to a sizeable multipronged protest campaign. Still, each is equally valuable and interlinked with self-care.
In closing…an invitation for inquiry:
Moving forward, how can I take the best care of myself so that I may practice “furious dancing” in whatever form that takes for me?
By: Jessica Richmond
Activism can take many forms. This story describes activism as “being active” or “taking action” for self-care and tending to one’s wellbeing with an Intentional Creativity® approach. This piece was birthed by the Muse using the very process she illustrates here and encouraging self-care through creativity as a form of loving activism to nurture one’s being.
Alchemical Dance: A story of self-care practice as activism, powered by Intentional Creativity.
Chatelle Jeram, Musea Membership Coordinator and Co-Curator
The dancer feels nervous. She’s worried. How will they judge her?
She moves, arms waving, legs swaying.
Swaying to the rhythm of exhaling built up emotions.
She spins and sways.
She is tapping out irritation, frustration, and fear.
She slows, the charge dissipated.
Now there’s sadness, and it lights up within her.
A river of tears flows through every move.
And as she twirls in ripples and waves of motion, sadness flows outward.
Earth is revealed as the river subsides.
Calm is here. She lays on the floor.
Her eyes open, enjoying the vista through a cleansed lens of clarity.
A smile starts. A wave of jubilation dances within her.
She rolls and sways, leaving the visual of a spiral in her wake.
Her journey of fear alchemized into delight is embodied by her expressive dance moves.
The memories captured by her senses and imprinted on her cells.
Others join her, leaping on stage and twirling in similar steps, creating dynamic spirals shifting, changing, flowing.
A story of change, of transition, of alchemy.
Do you see yourself in here?
Our feelings and emotions can be ignored, suppressed, numbed. The emotions we don’t want to feel and their related feelings signaling our perception of our experience can be abandoned, unacknowledged, and unhonoured.
The feeling, when pushed away, can contort into where it might not be wanted, waiting for a spotlight, its opportunity to dance by being felt.
What happens when we express that feeling or emotion in a gentle container of the journal page? Write the name of the feeling or emotion. Add symbols and colours. Honour what is showing up for you by adding its form to the page.
When the physical sensations connected to a feeling are felt, the feeling usually changes, often becoming less or more intense. Sometimes it eases and reveals something deeper, maybe more potent, maybe softer.
View the feeling you named on the page, the shapes you drew as you felt the feeling. What is arising now as you witness your felt experience?
Perhaps another feeling reveals itself in the midst of witnessing. Name it, grant it colours, form, and adornment.
Now repeat the process, like the replication of dance moves to a chorus of a song.
What feelings are you present to now? What is softening? What is growing?
Is there an invitation to a feeling you desire? An appearance of a desired feeling or an awakening to a new felt experience?
If yes, let us celebrate!
Large movements in the dance, uplifting kicks, and expansive arm raising!
Linking arms and swaying synchronously.
Shaking out our hair. Play!
Dare we say Joy?!
What are you FEELING?
What is your creative activism (or Art-ivism) that welcomes nourishing self-care?
Who are you inviting to dance and embody this journey of feeling?
What fractals of energy in motion and action are you creating?
**Activation/Trigger alert: This poem references abortion and sexual innuendos and is politically sensitive. If you have personal sensitives around any of these topics currently and feel it may cause discomfort or activation of your nervous system in an unwanted way, we are providing advance notice here so you may choose to skip this at your discretion.**
Wait. Pause. Hold up!
I am not your conquest!!
I will not be subjugated by the overturn of Roe v Wade.
Entry permissible under my terms only, and I hold all the spades.
You can take away my right to choose.
But I can take away your access to my body, so who’s going to lose?
I don’t have the right to choose,
And you don’t have the right to impregnate me.
I Am already pregnant with the possibilities
Of what I want my life to be.
And I choose me.
I choose life – without any strife.
A life where I am free,
You will not sentence me to a lifetime of worry.
You will not force me into a lifetime of caring for anybody but my own Self.
If I choose to care for another, it’s my choice and my choice alone.
You may have a bone
To pick with me: “What will you do for fun?”
My response: “I will put on my raincoat and dance in the rain!”
Puddle jump and splash…
I will have a blast getting soaked.
But my raincoat will protect the rest of me from the trope.
You know — wear a cape and become a superhero. Do the dance and become a mother…
I don’t want the consequences of my rain dance to affect the rest of my BE-ing.
My fun will not be affected.
But you may not enjoy the dance as much as you expected.
Yet that is not my concern.
You were not concerned about my feelings when you cheered on the overturn.
Therefore I am not concerned with your inability to fully enjoy the dance.
Nor will I fill my body with hormones that may cause blood clots or the chance
Of the Big C…
Because you see,
My body is my own!
And only I decide what goes in it.
And what happens to it.
You may think you’ve won son;
But the only thing you’ve done
Is make it harder for you to cum!
Two hands, ten fingers, and a box full of toys —
I have all the things I need for my joys.
What about you dude?
Do you have what you need without frustration and attitude?
That hand job will only make you crave
The soft, wetness of my cave.
But when Roe v Wade went bye-bye,
I stocked up on raincoats in great supply.
And as the gavel fell on my right to a choice,
The guillotine fell on your right to a voice
On whether or not an intimate encounter
Could be had without the need for
A raincoat to protect me from the shower.
by Sumaiyah Wysdom Yates
MUSEA Co-Curator and Guild Member
International Peace day was September Twenty-First. In honor of this important day, Virginia Masson, Intentional Creativity Teacher and Director of Musea’s Guild membership, has written the following vignette sharing her approach to activism and peace.
Virginia Masson – the Peace Muse
I have a little bumper sticker that says, Begin Within, and that idea is the foundation of my Peaceful activism.
My personality style (and believe me, I have taken ALL the tests) is Peacemaker. The keyword in each of the different profiles is non-confrontational. The natural me seeks a calm, grounded, centered life, and I felt bad about that for the longest time! I wanted to be the courageous, marching powerhouse getting arrested for what she believes in. But I wasn’t that.
How could I call myself a peacebuilder if I wasn’t excited about standing on the front lines confronting injustice head-on? How could I call myself an advocate if I didn’t lock arms with those who have experienced injustice and march with them to fight?
That old imposter syndrome hit hard, and I struggled to understand my place in the peacemaking world. I didn’t want to be someone who simply talked about Peace in round table conversations. I wanted to actively move the world in the direction of peace, but I didn’t know how to do it in a way that felt natural to me.
It was when I found Intentional Creativity and experienced the heart change that happens with deep inquiry that I knew I had found my style of activism. Offering these incredible tools for self-discovery and holding a safe environment to do the work allows for private and deeply personal examination of all the aspects of belief systems and life choices without ridicule or judgment. Providing this sanctuary creates an openness for change and allows me to share new ideas for my beloveds to consider.
Years ago, I read something that has stayed with me for much of my adult life and that I have used as a guidepost which is “You can’t unhear something.”
For the longest time, it helped me hold myself back from speaking unnecessary and potentially harmful things to the people I love. But as I pondered it, I realized that to ask a simple question without expecting a response is a powerful way to share an idea that may conflict with someone’s deeply rooted belief system and allow them to consider alternate ideas. For example, a question as simple as, “What if that isn’t true?”
My paintings are the outcome of the deep inquiry I am doing around my personal belief system. I desire that they project the same questions out to viewers sparking their internal reflections. I ask questions that can’t be unheard through my art and in discussions about the paintings. I have witnessed a light come on with those viewing the art; it is powerful!
I am so grateful for those who stride to the front lines, signs in hand, and those who step into politics to influence change. I’m inspired by the speakers, challengers, and line crossers whose bravery takes my breath away. However, I have found that the work I am here to do is the quieter work of holding space, offering inquiry, sharing images that stir the imagination, and supporting those who are questioning their “truths” as they traverse their path to personal peace. I believe we cannot have peace and justice in the world without activists doing this behind-the-scenes inner work supporting the larger vision of world peace.
My activism is to provide image, sanctuary, and inquiry to those who are ready to Begin Within.
“World Peace Begins with Inner Peace”
-The Dali Lama
My activism begins by walking in the forest and smelling the air! From there I get sparked to bring feelings and emotions into my art! Is there a place where activism Sparks for you?
Art as Activism examples…a collage card gifted to donors for a women and children’s shelter, a rally flyer I made back in the turbulent 70’s, a watercolor painting urging people to get out of the boxes they’ve been put in and a piece for the Canadian movement to help protect Indigenous women & girls from serious harm. There are causes everywhere and there’s untapped creativity inside of each of us. Let it flow!”