Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Learning to Facilitate Power

Lately, and again, I have found that my blog postings are mostly event listings. I was reminded of this fact, recently, in reading some of my older posts. I truly miss having the time to actually sit down and write out my thoughts in this venue. In order to correct this oversight, I will be putting down my thoughts on my current thesis work, leading up to the final exhibition in late April. To get things rolling, I have chosen a piece that I wrote last year. I think this is a good starting point for the next few months of my journey with art and therapy. I hope you will stay with me through the bumps and bruises I will inevitably encounter.

Learning to Facilitate Power

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure...As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  
-Marinane Williamson*

When I first arrived in MICA’s MA in Community Arts program, I was made aware of the difference between “teaching” and “facilitating” very clearly. I had never really wanted to be a teacher, but now I am aware that I can impart some knowledge that could generally be construed as “teaching”. What interests me most though, is the facilitation aspect of the program. Being aware that the real change is in what the community does for themselves with tools I may have taught them how to use or connected them with. The end result is that I step away from the equation entirely and the community still works on its own towards a common goal.

That is the magic of a liberatory thought and action. More than community engagement, knowledge and action become alive, and they become sustainable. Power becomes attainable to the masses. To me, the process of attaining and then spreading power through the use of art is addictive, and it can’t be denied.

My personal art has to do with my own empowerment and brief, difficult moments in my own history. Many pieces deal with aspects of witnessing the murder of my mother. I now challenge myself and my emotions constantly in this way. I am hoping to lead by example because I find such liberation in having and expressing my voice. I’ve found freedom from fear, and I’ve gotten to that point through open dialogue, sharing emotion, and art.

I am often told that I make “powerful” images. Not so much “pretty” images, it’s always about power. When we held a critique of my thesis exhibition for undergrad, one of the students off-handedly remarked that I “knew the pieces were powerful” and honestly, it shocked me. I had had so little feedback from my peers at that point, so I was shocked that someone saw what I saw in my imagery. That was the moment where I learned about power in art.

I was making that series wholly for myself, it was absolutely my therapy, and my lament. The pieces would make me physically shake, sweat, and sometimes vomit when they were finished and I finally looked upon them as a whole. I practically feared them. But that was my experience so I knew they held power over me, personally. I had no idea that the message could be seen by anyone else. It was as if the power spread, because someone else could actually see it too.

With the freedom gained through actively making art, comes a strong sense of my own power. This is a power that is directly related to my own voice and my own experience. What I create now is my personal war against violence. The pieces are raw and messy and bloody, just like violence and love always have been. Just like witnessing my mother’s murder was for me. This is my love, standing against violence, and the weapon with which I choose to combat it is a paint brush. This is the place where I can fearlessly exude power.

One friend recently expressed that she “envied my power”. Because as she saw it, making art about what one felt inside was holding power. I explained to her that she held creative power too, inherently. She had just been conditioned for years to fear it, to not recognize it or use it, or to deny its power completely. Everyone is creative in their own way, art is built for emotion in my opinion, it’s how I personally use it the most. This is my process, and I actually ache for freedom of expression when I don’t have it.

I believe that sometimes it only takes a “moment” or a “process” by which to really gain or master empowerment. Learning in brief moments seems to be the most beautiful path on the road to empowerment. It means that every second could potentially count. I want to help arm other people with a new form of personal empowerment. And when I say “arm them” I really do mean it. For me, creativity can be a very keen weapon or tool for creating personal power, and I hope that this type of power continues to spread.

*quote from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles", Harper
Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3


Bad Jones Rising said...

"For me, creativity can be a very keen weapon or tool for creating personal power, and I hope that this type of power continues to spread."

What a great quote Ms.G! This was a very brave post to right and that shows power in just that action. I don't think you should be too hard on yourself when it comes to only posting about events. That means you are doing something right and are busy for good reasons! You are full of ideas, and ready to do shows and speeches and meet new people...that is a great thing! You should be proud and happy that you are in such a great position to do so!

Thanks for being so personal, powerful, and positive. <3

shana goetsch said...

you. are. cool. thank YOU so much for the comments and positive responses!

Momo Luna said...

I so agree with you Shana.

I am using my art also for empowering myself. Coming from a abusive family, noticing the insecurity of myself and my sisters, it helps me to draw and paint. My images come from a deep hidden place and i bring them to the surface, changing the ugly into power and beauty. (i hope)

It's good reading your strong posts, reminding me that in the end all will fall in place.

Sweet greetz!

shana goetsch said...

It really will all fall into place. Thanks for the support, Monica. I am really excited about showing our collective mandalas soon! (another healing exercize for me)