It’s been 43 days for me today.

When I heard the Saint Paul St. Patrick’s Day Parade had been cancelled, I figured the state of Minnesota would not be far behind. So I made a trip to Trader Joe’s on March 12 to get what I needed to cook and freeze enough food for two weeks.

Since then, I’ve been out to grocery shop four more times, two wearing a mask and gloves. It’s amazing how quickly we humans adapt to new conditions, isn’t it?

Before the Quarantine, I was deep in the process of creating my first collection from my new studio in the Lowertown Lofts Artist Cooperative.

Four 20″ x 20″ canvas panels that had been gessoed in the Fall of 2018 before I left my little house on the Western Minnesota Prairie were ready to receive color. Each had a thin layer of modeling paste in the pattern that represented a new chapter in my artistic journey. When I used my old kitchen spatula to repeat each pattern in the soft paste, the intention was: “open heart, take flight.”

Before beginning to paint on January 17, I made some notes in my art journal. The idea I started with was “parts of the whole.” Each would hold a separate story — so four individual panels that when placed in a quadrant would make a fifth story.

Given that it was January in Minnesota, I suspect these notes reflected snow on the brain — but then again —

What is becoming is always within. Potential. Softly held while actively consenting to undergo change. Restful. Blanketed within.

Taking a break after preparing my work area, I looked at Facebook and was greeted by the daily post from Good Morning from Bde Maka Ska which featured a poem by Mary Oliver. Suddenly I had company on the path.

A slideshow on the making of my new collection “Halleluiah Quartet”

I worked and reworked the four paintings over a period of 50 days and 50 nights. Snow emergencies came and went. And COVID-19 gradually came into focus for our world, our countries, our states, our cities, our neighborhoods, and in my case — the 29 households in our live/work artist cooperative.

Through the creation process, I learn to bear what is now without knowing what it is becoming. Then I add another layer in faith, allowing the underpainting to inform and show through in a dynamic dance. It’s very apophatic, this process, and takes practice to let God fill in the gaps in unspeakable ways.

The finished paintings are my cherished companions in the unfinished business of this Holy Quarantine.

With their guidance, I’m hopeful that Holy Emergence will be met with grace and a newly unified vitality for all of us.

Amen.

2 comments

  1. I love this glimpse into your process, Julie. I aleays feel the depth in your paintings, but this let me see some of what builds that depth. Beautiful work. Bravo.

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