Quote for Today: Louise Erdrich

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I love plants. For the longest time I thought that they died without pain. But of course after I had argued with Mary she showed me clippings on how plants went into shock when pulled up by their roots, and even uttered something indescribable, like panic, a drawn-out vowel only registered on special instruments. Still, I love their habit of constant return.
Louise Erdrich, The Beet Queen

Image © Judith Doyle with CCLicense

Want to know more about what plants feel? Here is an excellent article on the subject.

Most Popular Original Works of 2015

Synkroniciti is all about making things. These ten posts feature the most viewed pieces of art that were produced by synkroniciti in 2015. Click on the title to view the post.

2015 featured our first online collaboration, Trash Talking, coupling my poetry  with intriguing photographs by Michael Bogdanffy-Kriegh. Photography and poetry were big this year. My serialized novel, Beloved’s Journey, which began with a bit of a following, had to go on hiatus as my schedule and circumstances didn’t allow it to move forward. Sorry for all the delays; I have plans to revive it in 2016.

Let’s look at the pieces that moved you!

10. Purple to Gold Manipulations: Sunrise over Lake Scott, Set 6img_3484

9. Lake Scott Sunrise, Set 1: Cloudy Dawn Over Lake Scott

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8. Trash Talking: Letters From Discarded Paper, Second Set

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7. Mysteries, First Set: Views of Seminary Hall, Northeastern State University

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6. Mysteries, Second Set: Views of the Philbrook Villa

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5. Beloved’s Journey: Chapter 2, Sable and Veracity

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4. The Tragedy of Roots: To a Dancer 

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3. Trash Talking: Letters From Discarded Paper, Introduction and First Set

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2. The Journey Within: Expectation

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1.The Importance of Creative Darkness: Exposed Roots

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Thank you for looking and experiencing our work! Synkroniciti is very grateful.

We Were There: Synkroniciti’s Open Mic: Exploring Earth

It is so special to be present together, connected to one another and our Earth by the gift of life.

Last Saturday, synkroniciti held the fourth Open Mic and the final one of the season, Exploring Earth. It was a fantastic time for sharing and I was so glad to see so many people who hadn’t been to our Open Mics before. Lisa Sasabuki, the synkroniciti host cat, was in her element and, for the first time, Yuri, our younger cat, stayed nearby and enjoyed the gathering, even if it was largely from behind the couch. Shy artists take heart, you are welcome here.

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After enduring years of my limited skills, the piano enjoyed the pleasure of being played by the fabulous Sherry Cheng. It was a true luxury to hear her play as we waited for people to come in. She asked if I wanted to sing through anything–a dangerous question to ask a singer–and I managed to con her into reading Hugo Wolf’s song Anakreons Grab with me after folks arrived and we had mingled. We sang it through a couple of times as folks settled into my living room to share. It seemed an appropriate beginning.

Here is a performance by baritone Thomas Allen so that you can experience it too, along with a translation of the German poem by Goethe.

Anacreon’s Grave
Here where the roses bloom,
Where vine and laurel intertwine,
Where doves coo,
Where grasshoppers rejoice,
What grave is here, that all the gods
With life have planted and adorned?
It is Anakreon’s resting place.
Spring, summer and autumn were savored
By the happy poet;
And from winter at last he was shielded by the hill.

Anacreon was an ancient Greek lyric poet born in Teos on the coast of Asia Minor, in an area which is now Turkey. His songs, for they were designed to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre, included hymns and bacchanals and explored universal themes connected with everyday life. Here we were, ready to begin our sharing at the side of his blooming grave, thanks to the music provided by the German romantic composer Hugo Wolf, who would have appreciated the intimacy of our gathering.

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I began with Exposed Roots, a poetry cycle that explores different types of root systems as metaphors for different female personalities. They deal with feelings of being uprooted and exhausted by life and with the potential for renewal. As women, we often have the push to nurture others while ignoring our own needs, and, as creative people, we sometimes feel we need to dig up our own roots to find material for our creations. It was a thrill to have an audience respond to and identify with these pieces, which seem very accessible. I really enjoyed reading to a group of active listeners that wasn’t afraid to chuckle and gasp. The poems and a little background material can be found here.

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Sherry followed with a bold excerpt from “The World at a Glance,” an essay written by scientist, physician and man of letters Lewis Thomas and printed in Grand Street Magazine, Issue 36. Thomas challenged us to see the Earth as one organism, as a life form with many component parts. Behaviors that poison our living sanctuary and behaviors that wound and maim our fellow beings stand out as dreadful aberrations. We are all part of one living being.

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Kelly Ledsinger shared three poems from a cycle of poetry she is writing about the countryside in West Virginia where she grew up. The working title of the cycle is Black Water. They are fresh and marvelous pieces, some full of magical wonder and love for the land and all it contains, some rife with indignation at the damage man has done in stripping the land of resources. The final poem of the group compared strip mining to breast surgery. It is a chilling piece, resounding with clinical precision. Men say we can rebuild a mountain or a breast, so what’s the big deal? This is powerful stuff that is just coming into being and it is extremely exciting to be present for its inception.

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Tuba Sozudogru created her ceramic Self Portrait while a student at the University of Houston, but the piece did not finish evolving there. She spoke evocatively of the material, which has texture and grainy bits within it, of how it would remain malleable for quite some time as long as she kept it moist, and of how much she loved working in the clay. After sculpting, it was fired in a kiln to keep its shape. We all thought the journey ended there, with a likeness of our friend made from earth.

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What we had all failed to notice was that the piece is held together by tape. One day her cat knocked Self Portrait over, breaking it into pieces. Tuba put it back together with a little glue and tape. Several of us had wondered how she had created the shiny surface on the neck and near the eye. What had been a finished product was broken and remade, continuing its evolution and gaining a story. Isn’t this what happens to us as we mature?

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This was followed by an extremely moving poem by Leigh Tomlinson, a tribute to a dear friend who was killed in a car accident while returning from a singing audition in the early hours of the morning. A Day at the Beach tells the story of a circle of musicians who took a day off from studying and memorizing music to enjoy the day and each other. It was a special time, not because she loved the beach, but because they were all together. The chorus of “you were there” which bejeweled each stanza made me choke up with empathy.

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In the spirit of synchronicity, we took a further step into the realm of memory with A Song Remembered by MaryBeth Smith. Music has a great power to recall emotions and situations. Is it any different for musicians and performers who spend so much of their life in music? You can read this thoughtful exploration here. Great stuff for empathy building!

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This was followed by the Dream of the Green Lady, which I painted last fall and have already explored in a blogpost you can read here. It has much to do with the need to protect and nourish nature, but there is a side I had not completely noticed. My wonderful, active audience surprised me again. If the picture is turned upside down, the heart looks like a face. The nose suggests, very slightly, my own profile. If I am the heart, this picture can be interpreted as a need for me to protect and nurture myself as a part of nature, which relates nicely to the Lewis Thomas piece Sherry read at the beginning of the evening. The veins and the passageways in the heart can also be seen as different pathways in my life and the different journeys in my creative process, which come together to form the whole that I am. Did I mention I love these people?

In closing, Kelly shared some jewelry she had made in the early part of her creative awakening. It wasn’t the pen and paper that first brought her back to art, but working with elements from the Earth. Synchronicity teaches that our creative process is not a straight line, and that we need to change direction, course and even medium to continue our journey.

I am so grateful to Sherry, Kelly, Tuba, Leigh, MaryBeth, Chris Welsh, and Susan Thompson. Each one of you brings so much and I am touched deeply by your presence. Many of our regulars were out for this one… I can’t wait for all of you to meet and mingle next season!

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Our next Open Mic, Remember, will be an exploration of the power of memory. It is currently scheduled for Saturday, August 1st at 4pm at my house. Next year will also see the beginnings of Euridice Revealed, a multi-media project, part installation, part performance. The Open Mic themes for next season will be generated from that project. I am also opening up the Open Mics to work that is on topic but not necessarily original.

Lisa Sasabuki is pondering the big questions of life and looking forward to seeing everyone next season.

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Photo courtesy MaryBeth Smith on Facebook.

Quote for Today: Thrity Umrigar

© Peter McDermott with CCLicense

We are earthbound creatures, Maggie had thought. No matter how tempting the sky. No matter how beautiful the stars. No matter how deep the dream of flight. We are creatures of the earth. Born with legs, not wings, legs that root us to the earth, and hands that allow us to build our homes, hands that bind us to our loved ones within those homes. The glamour, the adrenaline rush, the true adventure, is here, within these homes. The wars, the detente, the coups, the peace treaties, the celebrations, the mournings, the hunger, the sating, all here.

Thrity Umrigar, The Story Hour

Image © Peter McDermott with CCLicense

The Integrity of Roots: Sculptures of Sun-Hyuk Kim

Sun-Hyuk Kim makes sculptures that mimic roots and explore the meaning of being human, imbuing humanity and nature with dignity.

The Way to Happiness II

The Way to Happiness II

It is important to treat our roots and the roots of others with respect. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in learning and comprehension that we forget dignity and empathy. Art can help us by providing a mirror so that we may examine what lies inside of us without dissecting ourselves and those we hope to understand. We do not have to lay ourselves bare and open to the world in order to explore our inner selves, although some of us will choose to do so.

Naked Portrait 1

Naked Portrait 1

The Way to Happiness IV

The Way to Happiness IV

I make a constant effort to achieve my dream in the present. I want to say through my artwork what [the] human being is in the natural world. Everyday, anywhere I [am I] realize that we are so little compare[d] to the works of God. So I seek the smallest artist under the sky.

–Sun-Hyuk Kim

A Twig

A Twig

Naked Portrait Number 2

Naked Portrait Number 2

Sun-Hyuk Kim received a Master’s Degree from the University of Seoul in 2011 and has already had two solo exhibitions, Drawn by Life and Simple Truth as well as many group exhibitions. His work combines imagination, gentleness and whimsy that communicates easily without words of explanation. The deep reverence underlying his work allows him to communicate about things of delicate and sensitive nature, such as aspiration, fear and discontent. It is his goal to eliminate the artificial modern concept of man as separate from nature.

I hope you enjoy his beautiful and perceptive work as much as I do.

Wriggle

Wriggle

The Way to Happiness

The Way to Happiness

Whispering

Whispering

All images are used in accordance with Fair Use Policy.

The Importance of Creative Darkness: Exposed Roots by Katherine McDaniel

Creative people often examine the darkness around their roots for inspiration. Is it dangerous and risky to expose these roots?

Human beings often speak of the foundations of their lives as roots. Creative people often spend a great deal of time probing and studying their roots, sometimes even placing them on display. I recently realized through one of my paintings, Out of the Deep Waters, that my subconscious feels somewhat stressed by the exploration of my own root darkness and wondered if this isn’t a common thing among artists. I received my answer in the form of poetry which I am sharing today. It isn’t an exhaustive answer and it isn’t the only answer, so I’d love to hear what you feel.

Plants have a variety of root systems, designed for the environment in which they grow and the type of fruit, blooms and foliage they produce. Roots anchor the plant to its environment, absorb water and minerals and act as storage for food reserves.

These poems explore and anthropomorphize four root types: the primary or taproot system, the fibrous system, the adventitious system and that of the epiphyte, with its aerial roots. Do you identify with any of these?

Just as there are a variety of growing styles among plants, people grow and function in diverse ways. Superimposing someone else’s growth plan on our lives puts us through unnecessary pain and may kill us. A rose bush will never produce cucumbers. Despite what we may attempt with conscious effort, our subconscious mind is at the root of our being and it guides us in our natural channels. That isn’t to say that we can’t learn from others or that our behaviors can’t be changed, but rather that we cannot believe something until we are ready to believe it. We can only allow ourselves to be led into belief, just as the plant allows water to fill its being.

Quote for Today: Thích Nhất Hạnh

If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy.

The Tragedy of Roots: To a Dancer by Katherine McDaniel

Dance can circumvent words and create bonds across cultures. Could we allow the empathy it creates guide our daily lives?

Sattriya Dancer, India © Subhrajit with CCLicense

Sattriya Dancer, India
© Subhrajit with CCLicense

To a Dancer is a poem I wrote for a variety show that took place last weekend here in Houston, Mosaic Hub‘s Chocolate Soiree. It was lovely to be able to read my work for a paying audience and wonderful to be followed by a pair of wonderful dancers, Helena Tokarew and Chris Simon. Their smoldering performance gave this piece an added dimension.

In To A Dancer, a girl is mesmerized by the dance of a community alien to her own. She recognizes the energy, kindness and love embodied by a particular dancer, as well as the sense of belonging and place conferred on him by the dance. She would love to join in, but fears that her participation would be misinterpreted, both by members of her community and his.

There are so many motivations swirling under the surface of this girl. She is below the dancer’s notice, foreign to his circle, a child just beginning to feel the first surges of feminine emotion and hormones. This saves her, for now, from the embarrassment of being discovered. She is intrigued by his otherness, by the close nature of his community during the dance and by the beauty of his body. There is a sense of incipient sexuality, something which she hasn’t yet understood. If she allows herself to dream and, miraculously, her feelings are later returned, this could be the beginning of a cross culture romance.

For today she is merely a girl who would love to belong and to be able to trust. Will that trust betray her tomorrow, or will it lead her to a world in which cultures may coexist and share with one another?