Dear Readers, After a six-month hiatus due to a hiking accident, I am back with part of an interview published by the Art and Healing Network when AHN awarded me, along with Vijali Hamilton, the 2010 award for Ceremonial Art. See whole interview at http://www.artheals.org/about/ahn_award.php
QUESTION: You have written that “My medium of choice is listening... I dream middle way solutions, but mostly I create space for a deep listening to the heart.” And you describe yourself as a “heartist.” Could you talk a little bit about what it means to be a “heartist” and how your work invites “listening to the heart.”
ANSWER: My work as a “heartist” is about creating a quiet, tender space, a sacred space. In the ritual performances, people create the container within which the ritual is happening by forming a circle around the space. Whatever the ritual involves, spoken words, being present to silence or allowing sounds of nature and life to penetrate that silence, the audience focuses on me: they listen to my listening, and maybe they'll listen more deeply. In the silent object they can focus on what evokes memories, pain as well as joy. The listening is internal but also external.
Dreaming “middle way solutions” comes from an older statement when I still did not understand that the main thing I can do is sharing my heart. To celebrate creation or feel the pain: the natural beauty of broken places, like the Santa Fe River voted the most endangered river in 2006.
For heartists of all paths (be it art or life, or life as art,) the heart--a receptive station where body, mind and spirit meet--is the ultimate guide and feedback. However, there may be something else happening: synchronicity, which in art circles I enjoy referring to as "my best critic." In the words of anthropologist Michael Harner, "Synchronicities are the signals that power is working to produce effects far beyond the normal bounds of probability. In fact, watch for the frequency of positive synchronicities as a kind of a homing beacon analogous to a radio directional signal to indicate that the right procedures and methods are being employed."
Being a heartist is to be concerned with the moment. Being in the moment is not some vague new-agey pronouncement. It is being deeply aware on a micro/personal as well as on a macro/historical level, seeing the patterns that rule us whether we are a family or a country at war..
One innate mark of humanness is the ability to do ritual, "a confluence of forces and patterns." In the early societies, the word art did not exist; it did not need to. Art, life, and spirit were one. Not only were those societies marking time and space with formal ceremonies, but daily activities were also imbued with ritualistic flavor. Heartists of life and art recognize the sacredness of ordinary activity. Ceremony, whether personal or communal is grounded in an attitude of intention and intuition.