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Agent of change
June 27, 2014
I'm laptopping you from our family home in Crescent Beach, B.C. where we've spent a magic spring under the watchful eye Leaning into the Wind pastel/acrylic varnish on paper/wood with chrome screws 23 x 18 inches by Judith Gebhard Smith
of a resident crow. Dmitry caws in the branches of a nearby dogwood until a nugget of carrot cake is placed on the picnic table. In a flash, the cake is scooped up in one beak-full and carried away. When he reappears, his jet-black plumage seems to shine brighter.
"Two weeks with Corvus brachyrhynchos," Dad mused. We were in our last days together. French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss theorized that crows and ravens have obtained mythic status because they're seen as mediators of transition from the mortal world. In Greek mythology, Corvus is associated with Apollo, the god of prophecy, and functions as a messenger and a symbol of good luck. The crow's legendary virtues include Creator of life to the First Nations, literature's foreshadower, a symbol of intelligence and mischievousness, transformation and magic, fearlessness and adaptability. Crows and ravens invite us to experience life from a higher perspective.
These recent weeks have been made up of bursting days at the easel, telephone, on the floor in front of the window and beyond at Dad's bird feeder. In the studio awaits worthy work requiring a quiet mind. Crystallized responsibilities to art are dependent on an unwavering appreciation of life, and a steady, pumping love.
Today marks another page turning. Soon, I'll go back to New York, ushering in the transition from a period I didn't want to end. Up ahead is an unknown but promising horizon. I once read that a broken heart doubles in size if you let it. There's hope here, and gratefulness. "You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past," writes teen novelist Jay Asher. "The only way to learn the secret... is to press play."
Esoterica: As artists, we bear the charge of signalling, guiding, communicating and inspiriting change. The light moving across a melting glacier is a record worth making. In art school, my classmates and I would sit around in a turpentine haze discussing our aspiring roles in future societies. These were salad days, even if we couldn't afford the olive oil. "An artist serves the emotions of the people," a girl said. She was on her way to making a reputation for painting broken bones -- beautifully.
"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly." (Richard Bach)