Monday, July 18, 2016

Expressing Grief through Art

I haven't posted in a while. There's been so much tragedy here in the US in the last few weeks, and again in France and Turkey in just the last few days. It weighs on me heavily.

I'm going to be mentioning tough subjects in this post.

If you're deeply empathetic and easily triggered by reading about tragedy and injustice in the world, you may wish to skip this one and come back next week.

Take care of yourself. I'll understand. Enjoy this photo I took at one of my favorite places to go when I need to feel a little peace in my soul.

Still here?

OK. I appreciate it. Here's what I want to write about today:

We've had 193 mass shootings 
in the US in the last 197 days.

A mass shooting is defined as a shooting incident where four or more people are injured or killed. You can learn more from the Gun Violence Archive and from a CNN report on US Gun Violence: The Story in Charts and Graphs.

Even though just last post I was happily drawing fireworks-inspired tangles for IAST #151, it was hard to feel proud of my country and to celebrate it's colors for Diva Challenge #274 in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile followed by the terrible new tragedy in Dallas during a peaceful protest.

I feel such grief over the tragedy and violence that is our day to day news announcements. It's so very hard to summon pride. Anguish, despair, anger, outrage, hopelessness, helplessness, bewilderment... these feelings come in a landslide, a tidal wave, a flood.

But pride? That doesn't come naturally these days. I have to look for it.

I am proud of the peaceful protesters exercising their democratic right to congregate and speak freely, to speak truth to power. I am proud of the police officers who ran towards gunfire, into danger, to serve and protect the citizens of Dallas, even and especially the citizens congregated to protest recent instances of police brutality in the US.

I want to express my grief, my anger, my desire for a more just and less violent nation. I want to make art that is more than pretty or whimsical and I don't really know what that looks like for me yet.

If you're still with me this far, I hope you bear with me as I find out, as I get uncomfortable and vulnerable and try to move beyond beauty to tell a story like my artist friend Seb Barnett and strive to make a connection like CZT Paula Bramante.

I adore Zentangle for the calming, meditative ritual, for the community of artists, for the jumping off point it has been for me in learning more about making art. But I also want to make art that speaks a language beyond beauty for beauty's sake. Art that has a voice, that speaks out, art that is powerful.

I don't know how to do that yet using the Zentangle modality. So today instead I post a work in progress inspired by the Diva's challenge but using paint and collage.

Have you made art that expressed powerful emotions? Have you shown it to people or kept it private?

red white blue abstract painting about gun violence in America
work in progress, acrylic and collage on canvas
red white blue abstract detail
close-up view of collage detail


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I think a lot of us are having trouble finding our voices right now.