Art as Activism
The Bride Stripped Bare
I have had the opportunity to create large installations in warehouse galleries and it is here, in the public arena, that I have been able to bring together Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality as an act of social comment.
The Bride Stripped Bare was the name of a piece that depicted Nature as Bride/Persephone. I created a large shop window. Within, and spilling out from this structure was a bridal gown, trapped in the hem and the train was rubbish, collected from the city streets. On the back wall, attached with band aids, were images of pollution and the clearing of old growth forests. Also behind the gown were pictures of land degradation, a consequence of the overproduction of agricultural lands. Demeter’s Gifts exploited!
Hanging from the ceiling were plastic roses with ‘Made in China’ labels tied off with bandages. In one corner a smouldering bridal bouquet rested on pictures of the devastation of Tibet after China’s invasion. All around the circumference of this installation were shattered mirrors; these represented shattered lives, not only for those who died, who were wounded and homeless, but also mirroring the collective loss and helplessness we experience as cultural extinction unfolds before us.
This piece linked the violation of The Female with the violation and exploitation of nature and a sacred culture. To see a wedding gown, a potent symbol in itself, with garbage gathered in its hem, and dragging on the fabric of the train, evoked a felt response in observers. The smouldering bridal bouquet laid over images of environmental ravages of Tibet, was like a wedding gone ‘wrong’.
Nothing to celebrate here, where inequality between People and Nations leaves a smouldering aftermath.
For me, Feminism is to see all people as deserving of equal rights that are sustaining; to revere and advocate for Nature, Children and Animals; to honour our Original peoples; to do no harm.
The Bride Stripped Bare was my public expression of activism. The aim, to trigger a gut reaction as opposed to an intellectual concept.
Above was a snippet of HOW, Activism wove into my creative, spiritual expression of Goddess. The first description was a personal piece, the second public, but both reflected my reaction to the culture of Oppression that affects us as women daily and it is a task to stay focused, in the Heart, and not be minimized by the over culture and its machine of capitalism.
Goddess Tara and Bone Woman
Thirty years or so have passed since this piece, and many altars have been created and dismantled. The Goddess’s allies continued to guide and enabled the development of many aspects of myself. The Eastern Goddesses entered my life and I became a White Tara initiate. This enabled me to face shadow aspects through a tantric engagement with life, which fast tracked my journey to my Original Soul. It was intense and grueling and left me so Bare at times, I could feel my Bones scraping. This Goddess heralded in my perimenopause, and revealed the karmic unfolding of everything in my life. The story is too long to share in this writing, but I wanted to share that a new creative piece was born out of this experience. I call her Bone Woman. And she danced me into a new expression of self, where I performed her publicly after stripping myself down to bone, shaving my hair, revealing my post mothering body. Bone Woman demanded that I shed the illusions of Beauty that society finds acceptable. I felt a storehouse of universal grief pour out, powerful forces surged through me to cleanse and purify.
I was stripped bare of all illusions and the safety that illusion brings.
Enter Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth
“Begin at the beginning. Begin with Hestia.” An old Greek saying.
I became a Disciple of the Hearth. I tended, sorted and became a community weaver, with a strong emphasis on women’s business. I studied counselling and shamanic practice. Slowly I refleshed the Bones, slowly, slowly reCreating, reCrafting meaning.
Hestia’s sacred tasks of Clearing and Creating enabled maintenance and connection to my original Soul.
Living a rhythmic life, rich in the atmosphere of a day, a moon cycle, a seasonal cycle and connecting to the portals of potential that are always there, connects me to the weather within.
I now stand at the centre of my Life as a Sacred Witness and when I stray into judgement, intolerance and negativity, the discomfort I feel alerts me back to a sacred engagement and connection to everything.
This Hestian consciousness affects so many choices at so many levels.
One of them is to make sure that my bank is not investing in harmful practice. I choose a sustainable energy provider. My superannuation supports ethical projects. I minimise purchases from supermarket chains. These are some of the ways I continue to be ‘Active’, it is not perfect but it is a start to keep the sacred Hearth clean.
All of this personal journey and more is HOW I freed myself from inherited dynamics, from family patterns, to the marginalization of being a child of migrants to the hypocrisy of the overculture.
I do this to free my daughter and her future progeny from carrying these dynamics into the future.
Observe and Serve
Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality are all interwoven elements that are essential for my life. They have at their core, Respect, Reverence, and a Recognition of the sacRED connection of All Life upon this Earth and her place in the vast mystery.
The exquisite journey with Goddess has acted as a bridge, calling my Soul home to a place of Gratitude, Humility and Beauty.
Persephone, now matured from many descents, observes with open eyes, and consciously journeys to the Core at the Heart/Hearth of Self to listen to the spirit of the Earth herself, Gaia.
This is the place where the Sacred Witness resides, the Inner Wise One that tends and awaits patiently until she has an audience with Us.
This is HOW I serve.
[This essay is published in She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality?]