Art Inspired By the Coast/July 2009

lady faceI am still processing the week that I just had … Art Inspired by the [South] Coast Part 2, has blown me away for the second time. I felt connected with community yet able to find alone time surrounded by 23 other working, talking, growing, moving, learning, creating, weaving, painting, traveling, sharing women and one man, plus two instructors to total 26 in a space that held as many studios and art supplies to fill 2X the space! I was so productive; my words pored onto my pages without labor pains. Sometimes I couldn’t stop them – they insisted on being shared – and the feedback was supportive. My drawing intertwined with my words and I worried if I was answering the daily questions posed to center the group. My path led in opposite directions yet was influenced by the ocean and topics presented and places visited.

We began our odyssey with an essential question and bus trip to Fort Tabor [ocean park located in New Bedford’s southend] for opportunities to draw in plein air, soak up the salt air and call our muses. We were extremely lucky that the weather was with us and we had mostly sunny days, or in reality fog burn-off by at least mid morning for 4 out of the 5 days we met as a class. [It is pouring as I write this.] Once back at our studios we worked furiously (some timidly at first until they discovered their voice/answered their calling, then boldly) to produce our responses, to answer the essential question in whatever media we chose. Time was our mistress and enemy. We gathered in circles/ovals, large groups and small, to share our observations, to hear ancient and modern words, view current works, hear from local artists, and be tickled by a leader that kept us on track in an unobtrusive manner as possible. We broke our fasts together in the morning, were fed wonderful lunches that often reflected what we were doing/where we were going each day. We were pampered and honored and treated with supplies beyond our expectations, each of us gasping little “ohhs” with each new wonder.

Day 2 brought a trip to Fairhaven’s Fort Phoenix and armed with our new essential question we scattered in the fog to find our center. I used my new mono-pod which helped me take telephoto pictures with fantastic steadiness. I was also capable of catching bumblebees in action using the macro option of my camera. I was amazed that the bees allowed me to get so close without disturbing them from gathering their nectar from the beach roses. Even the helper bees let be poke around their domain without so much as a warning buzz. We were rained on as we departed but by the time we arrived back at our base the sun was shining. This was our only brush with rain throughout the entire week. 5:30 came too fast and we parted in stop-time, the parking lot emptying out in reverse as it had filled in early morning. We had forgotten our world in our safe cocoon but it came back at us hard as we traveled back to our families, responsibilities, chores and children. Some of us reported that we tore apart our hiding places, our cabinets and closets, drawers, boxes, bookshelves and portfolios to look for that something that the day had called to the front of our minds, had shaken loose, wouldn’t let us rest without finding to share.

Day 3: I brought my old b&w picture of my sister Susan and I to share my studio place – I identified us with our moniker “The Berry Girls” so that I could use the visual to expand/explain my stories. As if calling my ancestors from the grave my photo called forth a cousin from amongst our group that I didn’t even know existed and had been sharing many classes with in the past. Deborah said that she always felt that my stories rang true with her, that somehow she knew some of the characters but she had attributed her feelings to well told stories. As soon as she saw the Berry girls photo she knew I was the missing Brunswick Berry branch of her family tree! Her great grandfather was the brother of my grandfather (more than 15 years and siblings were between them, my grandfather was the youngest of the Berry tribe) and she supplied the lost family members that led to the Brewsters aboard the Mayflower. Wow. My dad and Deborah’s mother are both 79, he could recall his father speaking of Alice, Deborah’s grandmother, and Invanetta, her great grandmother, while Her mother recalled trips to visit Aunt Min[nie] of my childhood. Our stories and lives meshed so evenly – we looked at each other’s family traits on our faces, our graying patterns, our body structures. We were both the oldest grandchild, we were both teachers, the Berry humor ran through our veins. How awesome is this? How awesome at mid-life to find kin and answers and completion? How awesome?

This is a work-in-progress and will be continued —

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