The Secret Allure of Rusty Things
I have for as long as I can remember had a fascination with junk. As a little girl, I collected rocks and rattlesnake tails in plastic, amber prescription bottle (momma threw it out when my collection started rotting – I was heartbroken). I scoured junk bins with my dad and grandpa on weekends, pawing through rusty tools and stacks of mildewed books. Heaven!!
I still love thrift shops and “as is” bins at Goodwill. Please understand my love for junk does not mean I don’t like new, shiny things too. I do. But there is a part of me that is downright proud and absolutely gleeful when I find *art* amist the rubble heap.
A couple of days ago I attended a conference on cultural literacy for social service agencies in our community. There were many rich speakers there, each spoke, their hearts on their sleeves, about the disparities in history and their personal lives. The challenges they face as Native people and the success they’ve shared with overcoming barriers. They shared the hope that we are creating a new vision for our children and grandchildren.
Art is my new testing ground for spiritual revolution. It has become the place where I can safely sort out fantasy from visions and dysfunction from revolution and trash from treasure. Painting has become sacred alchemy.
I’ve taken two classes now with Shiloh and I am blown away at all that I’ve learned and created. Shiloh’s Legendary Selves class has been nothing short of miraculous for me. Over the last few months I have worked on my canvas and my life along side some fifty women with life size blank canvases. We have drawn from our imaginations and fears, pulled from the clutter of our dreams, bravely mixed copious amounts of trust with heapings of prayerful intent and watched as miracle after miracle took form. I am amazed and transfixed with it all.
Focus. Back to the training. One of the speakers at the cultural training spoke about creation stories. You know the kind of stories cultures are based on. The stories of how we, human beings, were created. Think of Big Hands mixing clay, paint, sticks and stones. These are creation myths of our ancestors; Christian, Muslim, Aztecan, Native American. Stories of Adam being formed from clay. Native creation stories that tell of us coming up from the Earth, or being made from red, rusty clay. The speaker said,
“Our stories of creation and death connect us at a base level – to the earth. That is where we our essence comes from and that is where we return – [ to the heart of Creation].”
It didn’t dawn on me until I was reading a book about rust and how the colors change as it breaks down into basic matter/dirt/minerals- that I realized the symbol that these grainy patinas and decomposing things hold for me. You’ve probably already figured this out by now, but since it has taken me this long to figure it out I might as well write it out. Are you ready???
Dust to Dust Baby!! Essential, primordial matter. Connection to our Source.
For me, rust and dirt symbolizes our return to the only thing that matters. Our connection to the Sacred Source of our being.
Rust is the symbolic return to the place of creation. To the Garden and the Roots of Our Ancestors. It is the muck that holds our roots and our place of belonging.
It is, alas, our essential connection to one another!
Grains of sands, pieces of clay waiting – in some phase of transformation – waiting to feel the breath of Life on our spirit once again. Each grain holding no power at all and all the potential of the universe.
I know it’s simple but it was revolutionary for me. Rust and clay have been a symbol all of my life, through painting I came to understand it’s significance to my story. This is the inspiration behind the Bureau of Soulful Reclamation..this blog. Actually Guadelupe Rose is the inspiration, but that’s a story for another day. This blog is about reclaiming the resources that mainstream, industrial society has tried to strip away and that we forgot were important; spirituality, creativity, wholeness and vitality. It is about discovering and claiming for ourselves and each other those things that we have cast away, set aside and discarded. It is about rediscovering what has always belonged to us but that we forgot we had, wanted and needed.
It is about the journey back to our truest, most essential self.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you!