Sunday, March 30, 2014

Art, Home and Voice

The Hands of Time Sculptures - by Crystal Przybille
Photo by Gillian Cornwall - Victoria, BC 

Having just moved my home across town, thoughts around place, creativity and belonging have been swirling through me. It was of concern to me to ensure that the party with whom I live is fully aware of my need for time and space to write and the freedom to work uninterrupted for hours on end. This is no small task for two people in a one bedroom apartment but, thus far, all is well.  

All of this brought me to reconsider a piece I wrote a number of years ago. I have reformed it and brought it forth once again for your consideration:

Imagine you live on the street. Where is your venue for self-expression? Do you care or is it entirely off your radar because your focus is grounded in the most basic elements of survival? Perhaps you are cold, hungry, afraid, ill, addicted and desperate in the act of surviving another day. Some people are without society's concept of home by choice - but I would dare to say that this is a very small number. Some people on the street have homes but cannot go to them because they are less safe than the street. Those homes represent abuse - mental, physical, sexual and psychological. 

I do know that many people who are living without the construct of walls and roof are not seen by those of us who do live within these constructs. I do know many housed people who haven't been in the downtown core for a year or more and they have no concept of how or why anybody could possibly be living on the streets. 

"Aren't their services for 'those people'? Aren't 'they' taken care of with our tax dollars?"

Well, 'those people' are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers and our children. They are our community elders. They are victims of violence, government cutbacks, mental illness and addiction. 'Those people' are of the universal energy that makes up every one of us; they are us. 

Living outside the boundaries of  what we deem to be normal society can come with the price of not being seen - by anyone. You are outside the realm of others vision of acceptability. You are incomprehensible by the nature of your situation and too difficult to look at, so passers-by choose to select you as unseen. If you are not seen, do you question your place in the world? Do you drift outside of yourself or do you drift progressively inward? I imagine each situation is as individual as each one of us.

I do know that, for me, art (be it writing or visual art) allows me to examine my interconnection with the world through self-expression. I would love to see everyone have the opportunity and safe space to engage in this kind of self-expression, the opportunity to be seen and heard through these media if they choose. For far too long, I have been toying with the idea of getting some art and writing supplies donated to Our Place, just to give people the option of giving it a go if they so choose.  

I think it would be totally cool if they were willing to have their work posted on-line and on walls. I do not want to speak for others; rather, I think it would be great to hear the voices of those who can utilize a safe way to speak. Could this be a conduit through which we might all become a little closer to one another, a little more understanding of each other's paths?

I do believe that self-expression is integral to our well-being and as necessary to life as the act of breathing. A picture truly can be worth a thousand words and there is poetry in them there streets. Let us be conduits for each other's voices. Let us stand together with our hearts, ears and eyes open to one another. Let us love without fear. 

If you have thoughts on this post and ideas on how to facilitate it or, if you want to help out, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you in short order. Alternatively, contact Our Place directly if you want to help out in Victoria, B.C.. If you are in another city, there are organizations everywhere that desperately require your help - be it financial or in goods or services. 

May love flow freely as a fountain and may you always be full.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 30, 2014

The Hands of Time Sculptures - by Crystal Przybille
Photo by Gillian Cornwall - Victoria, BC

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