Posts in Cultural Healing
The Spirit of Powderhorn

This project grew out of attempts to get ordinary passers-by to draw something small at an art fair. Turns out that being put on the spot to draw is really intimidating for the average person, but that arranging magnetic shapes on a board is much more accessible. The idea is to ground yourself in body and place - ideally a natural setting. While immersed in sensory information provided by this place and its inhabitants, create a pattern from life using combinations of point, line and arc (the building blocks of all pattern language). My first experiment with magnets used a black background, but because the idea is to engage with the spirit of place, it became obvious that a better ground would be reflective of the natural setting at hand, hence the map of Powderhorn Park, what I like to call the ‘jewel of our neighborhood’.

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Pysanka Party

Honoring my Slavic side through an art form that relates strongly to the concept of ‘Magical Folk Arts’, Pysanka are charms made in Spring to bring blessings to the household and community throughout the year. Best known in their Ukrainian and Polish forms, but practiced all over the Slavic world, families traditionally made 50-60 eggs; one for each member of the household - including livestock, some for gifting to close friends and family, some for youths to exchange with sweethearts and some for added health for newborns. Each design element and color employed is a part of a visual language that dates back to the Pre-Christian era, and while largely lost over time, still holds mysteries and magic via intentional folk symbolism.

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Unicorn Anti-Hate Hex

This year has been such a departure from the norm for me, I’ll usually take January to rest up after the Holiday market season, but this year chose to plow through a deadline to submit images on the 1st of January, spending my birthday on the 31st of December working. Then there were literally mountains of books on folk art and folk magic so sift through - searching for nuggets of inspirational material to work from this Spring. The Liminal art show put on by Conspiracy of Strange Girls in mid-January, Huldufolk art show in March (which, if you hadn’t heard, was marred by the presence of crypto-fascists and was shut down for the disturbance). Last in a run of gallery shows was the Unicorn Art Show in April, and a series of 3 Hex signs modeled after a Pennsylvania Dutch barn art tradition. In contrast to the original unicorn hex for piety, these Anti-Hate Hexes were made in response to the events at Huldufolk (which was held in the same space as the Unicorn Art Show), as an antidote to the damage done to the community.

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The Huldufolk

Huldufolk is the name of the art exhibition at Jackson Flats that these three pieces have been made for. The Hulder are a part of the folklore of Scandinavia, living within and embodying the landscape and human interaction with place. The Hulder can be generous or vengeful, in accordance with how well treated they have been - just as Minnesota will care for us in accordance with how well we tend to healing our natural and cultural surrounds.

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Serious Questions

Poring over seventy or so books that I checked out from the library this last month, I came across many examples of magical notation hidden in folk art pieces from my European cultures of origin (Scandinavian, Slavic and Celtic). The hypothesis that I’m operating on is that pre-christian pagan symbolism has been cleverly folded into more recent versions of traditional crafts that exist currently in much diluted form. There are whole industries predicated on the production of faux-heritage kitsch, but what if we’re missing the fact that all of the symbolism being re-hashed in popular culture originates in the pictographic languages of a few root cultures going back to the Neolithic age, when these glyphs would have been applied with much greater labor and purpose.

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The Spell of High Summer

Approaching the Summer Solstice, it’s important to take pause and breathe it all in. The skin should be given freedom to soak in light and water in abundance, cleansing the static that clings to the soul. The lungs should open and with them the heart center, allowing radiant patters of thought to flow outward, mingling with the energy of the world. The greater the challenges presented to us on this plane, the more we stand to gain from cultivating open hearts and minds, shedding old ideas like skins, clearing a path for renewal. Mindfulness begets mindfulness, and lights the way for those who come after us.

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