Masking our blessings

Mask wearing has its challenges. I ask myself, does anyone know I’m smiling? Are they smiling? How do I connect with anyone?

My son and I went shopping and we did our best to enjoy all kinds of things we might have taken for granted or been grouchy about in the past.

Snack time? Let’s indulge! Buying shoes? Lets go to the store where someone will wait on you and bring out the shoes instead of a self-serve place.

What a joy to discover the shoe salesmen were respectful and treated my son like an adult. They helped him find everything he wanted in a shoe and then in socks too. This is a task which in the past my son has blatantly refused to participate in. Buying shoes became a wonder, to speak to someone who cared, who wanted to know his preference.

Every generosity seemed huge. Every moment we could find something special, we reveled in. Paintings in the mall became a stage for us to photograph each other.

How could I stumble over interactive art?

image of Compassion Speak Oracle card - Im here to tell ya, its just beautiful! You should see it! color! Vibrance!
one of the many
Compassion Speak Oracle cards
written by Sean Allison

I create artwork for the moment of sharing the piece. In my studio, I have a creative experience making lots of things. But when I share that finished piece with a friend, a stranger, or a customer, the artwork comes to life.

I am always confident of my abilities to evoke wonder, joy and connection with viewers. 

When invited to an Interactive art “experience” I have sometimes not laughed and jumped in. There have been sneers and doubts. Interactive art seemed to me to give the game away, it’s no longer mine. What am I creating if the participation of the spectator is half of the artwork?

Recently, I created my first deck of oracle cards, a delicious melt of mine and my friend’s writing, mine and my friend’s photography. I loved my cards, love reading them, flipping through them, feeling the smooth surface as I shuffle. I love this compilation of months of my personal insights, of treasured poetry and photos from Sean.

Soon after printing,  I stood in a holistic fair, with a deck of oracle cards fanned out for a passer-by to choose from. A person stops and pulls a card. And like a magician, the infinite has handed to them the card that describes exactly where they are in their life. They stare at the lavish photo, at the beautifully incised font and brief words. “What does it mean?” they ask.

And when I describe what led me to the place where I wrote this card, or the place my teachers words led me when I crafted this card, I watch their faces change. They look as if I have peered into their souls. They might put their hand over their heart or mouth, or eyes. “That’s exactly where I am, that’s exactly what I need,” they say.

When they hand me the card, I hand it back to them. “Its a gift,” I say. And they are the home of that artwork, the destination it was created to go and abide in. Only when I have shared every card of the deck, and none are left to offer, is the artwork complete. 

A family with four kids approaches me, and I fan out my cards and let them each take one. I am down to the bottom of my deck. This can’t work anymore, I doubt heavily. No worries, these are kids, they won’t notice. It’s just a pretty piece of paper and a fun freebie at the fair, I say to myself.

The grandmother watches, and as each child comes to me with a card, and I explain the source of each image and each word, the children seem uninterested. But the Grandmother says, “That’s exactly where you are, isn’t it honey?” And every child admits, yes. 

It is the interactive half of my artwork, incomplete until it has met its partner.

“This card held a mirror to my soul. I see again, gently the kind universe shows me what I am ignoring.”

So I keep a deck on my dresser and every morning turn up a card. And each morning it is true again, each artwork and phrase holds up a shining mirror. I see myself and smile. It is a gift, and I am so grateful to be a piece of the artwork. I am grateful again for my creative team.

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