protest and survive (woodcut, pward 1988)

During a recent discussion about how we might individually respond to the seemingly impossible environmental and social crisis we are facing some of us were finding a resolution hard to find.  This passage from DREAMING THE DARK by STARHAWK (Unwin Hyman Ltd; LONDON;1990)  maybe provides a broader and more positive perspective to an arts practice…

“I know that I am not alone in being overwhelmed at times by hopelessness and despair. I hear the same fears from my friends, my family, from the clients who come to me for counselling. Everybody’s personal pain is touched by this greater uncertainty: we are no longer confident of leaving a better world – of leaving a living world, to our children.

Yet the children must be fed, the dogs must be walked, the work must go on, so we raise the barriers that defend us from unbearable pain, and in a state of numbness and denial we go on. The work may seem flat, but we carefully avoid questioning its meaning and its usefulness, even though we sense that something deep and sweet is missing from our lives, our families, our friendships; some sense of purpose, of power, is gone. And still the children grow up around us, no less beautiful than any other generation of children, and still when we poke a seed into the earth it continues to push forth roots and unfurl stem, leaf, flower, fruit. There are still moments when we see the processes of life continue to unfold, when we cannot help believing that life is moved deeper than the power of the gun and the bomb; a power that might still prevail if we knew how to call it forth.

This book (or the practice of ART (my inclusion)) is about the calling forth of power, a power based on a principle very different from power–over, from domination. For power-over is, ultimately, the power of the gun and the bomb, power of annihilation that backs up all the institutions of domination.

Yet the power we sense in a seed, in the growth of a child, the power we feel writing, weaving, working, creating, making choices, has nothing to do with annihilation. It has more to do with the root meaning of the word power, from the (late popular) Latin, podere (“to be able”). It is power that comes from within.”

 believe (pencil; pward 1993)

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