This weeks posts are from Shary Bartlett! This is the fifth week in our collaborative exhibit share; in case you have missed the previous I encourage you to take a look! Begin with Michelle Belto, follow on to Amanda Jolley, Crystal Neubauer and Erin Keane. Enjoy!
It’s said that every cell in the human body changes over a period of seven years, but some, like the early twentieth century philosopher and mystic, Rudolf Steiner, believe that as humans, we experience major emotional, physical and mental changes that cycle at approximately seven year intervals over our lifetimes.
Discovering this, I think about my own journey to date, reflecting on defining experiences and major transition points, surprised to find how these phases fit into 7 year cycles. At the age of 56, I’m just finishing my 8th cycle, and while this doesn’t fit perfectly into the numeric theme of Seven Degrees of Connection, it’s pretty close! So, I begin sifting the significant moments of my life, writing in my journal as I reflect on each period.
Sometimes the best creative thinking happens when we’re not mindfully “producing.” One day, fingering boiled chicken bones for homemade soup stock, I find myself fascinated with the beauty and variety of bones (short, long, smooth, sharp, flat, round…), and the marvel of nature. How could I honour these intriguing forms? I bleach and dry them in the sun, hoping to imbue them with living solar energy; noticing how they catch light, cast shadows. I arrange and rearrange them — like pieces of a puzzle, oracle bones cast in divination — struck by how their conjoined configurations form letter-like characters. Might they be arranged in such a way to sculpt a story: chronicle seven years?
I begin creating paragraphs of a sort – narrating seven-year intervals of my life in symbols: 0-7, joyful childhood dances; 7-14, an uprooted “age of reason” where my holistic world became fractured; 14-21, a typical adolescence fraught with the barbs of insecurity and self-searching; 21-28, glorious explorations of the world and higher education, laddering steps to define myself; 28-35 establishing career, partnership and seeds for children; 35-42 building marriage, infants, home and family; 42-49 mothering – highlighted by a full year backpacking around the world with our children aged 5 and 7; and 49-56, reinventing myself with a new identity and career as an artist and teacher, facing the new frontier of aging.
So the next step of my Seven Degrees is now clear in my mind: I decide that two phases, 35-42 and 42-49, have been collectively defined around mothering, and so combine them, clarifying the content for seven storied panels.
And now to those coloured paint chips — and bords!