shadow | light
Welcome! Thank you so much for joining me here for this virtual art exhibit.
This collection of my original ink paintings, poetry, and photography is designed to be an intimately personal exploration of duality - depth and radiance, darkness and levity, heaviness and weightlessness, and all the spaces in between.
Pour yourself a gentle glass of wine if you feel so inclined, perhaps a snackish something, and go ahead and set the mood with this music playlist I curated just for you my darling.
Take your time, and enjoy!
Am I willing to acknowledge my own fears and flaws and shadows? To truly bring them to light?
And to what end?
Am I willing to change?
Am I willing to try another way?
If my shadows get their turn in the light at last perhaps they’ll drink their fill
And then might I make room here instead for something more authentic than these tired illusions and disguises?
These games I play to keep the shadows hidden in the depths
And am I brave enough to show my light as well?
That light that hides more quietly and secretly
Which was never allowed
Always too much and too little. a little strange and never quite right
If I dare not ask for validation, praise, attention, can she be allowed here just to be?
Would they still reject her then?
I think its time she hears me say that I don't care
She matters anyway
She always has
Lost | found
How do I describe the stretching of my heart?
The aching in my shoulders
For something I can never touch
Reflections in a silken lake in moonlight
I see here there so clearly across the chasm
I lost her somewhere
But I couldn't forget
How it felt to be pure and at ease
And how I long to reclaim her
LIGHTLY CHILD, LIGHTLY
So much has changed.
Mostly me... I've changed.
I've opened and blossomed and learned and let go. I found new pieces of myself to love and learned how to share a new version of myself. A lighter one, more joyful, but also much more real. Less afraid of the shadows.
I had to go through it. Like we all do.
There's really no way around it. I mean, surviving is one thing, but healing...whew! That's the real journey.
It doesn't stop but after a while it does slow down. It stops feeling quite so cataclysmic and shattering. The boxes you're unpacking get smaller and less heavy and you can open one up and think "Oh yes, I know just what to do with this one"
Let's go back an unpack the heavy boxes now. Let's discover what lightness we can create when we spill their guts all over the carpet and see what we've been hiding.
Let's witness the smoky ink stains on weightless paper and the way teardrops well up and hover in our eyes for a moment before they plunk down our cheeks.
Let's marvel at the shapes our bodies make in the collapsing and the getting back on our feet and all the movements in between.
Let's wonder at the ridiculous things that make us laugh hysterically at the end of a horrid fucking sleep-deprived night, and the way kindness offered freely can make us sob.
I wanted to be a shiny object
A shiny object I thought, is so desirable
And all the other stones wanted to be so desirable
I must have been good at being shiny
Because they wanted to touch me
Pick me up
Play with and possess me
I learned how to be appealing, peeling
I couldn't tell anyone I didn't like the way it felt
When they fingered my youthful sheen in the theater courtyard
How could I complain about being shiny?
When they complained of being plain
Shiny objects are given so much affection
Or is it attention?
And I must have known they weren't supposed to rub me that way
Not in those places
But shiny objects aren't supposed to talk
And I was afraid that if I spoke or tried to roll away
They'd find out I was only pretending to be shiny
And toss me aside like a worthless rock
So the shame sunk deep into mineral deposits and colored my surface in streaks
It wasn't until years later, after selfish hands had worn down my polish
Misused and abused me
That I realized the shine was nothing but a shield I'd used in vain to reflect and deflect every gentle caress
Hands that might have felt my bumps and jagged textures
Hands I feared would judge, reject, undo me
Hands that if I'd let them, might have held me
In the way a shiny object can never be held
But treasured like an uncut gem
TOO MUCH | NOT ENOUGH
The sort where the outer layer of composure is so thin and fragile
or ask her “so how are you doing, really?”
with that sweet turn of the head
and she’d so hate to burden you with her
Can fear and courage exist in the same breath?
on hard things
I have chosen my hard and I feel quite certain that it is the right choice in spite of the cataclysmic shattering.
Perhaps one day I will have a beautiful garden of my own growing here
There were times I thought
How on earth can I get through this
It’s too unbearable
It will have to snap me in two
Kill me - I simply can’t endure
I prayed for any end
Until out of those dark corners
I spied someone stronger
I didn’t recognize her
My companion in those desolate tunnels
But she was stubborn like me
I watched her struggle and oh how I resented her
Just give up already!
What is there left to fight for?!
She didn’t get it
Every day she’d get to work
Solving problems and finding bright spots
Uncovering secrets I’d hidden away
And she dragged me kicking and screaming through the mud
Out of the depths
Baby step by baby step
Until I looked at her one day
And saw what I was made of
They say to forgive, just don't forget. I'm not so sure.
There are a lot of things I want to forget. Like the days I felt so worthless I could've crawled into the mold in the shower door to die. I want to forget the lies I told to protect the truth I didn't want to see.
I want to forget the embedded belief that happiness never lasts for long, that the bottom will fall out at any moment now | the shoe will drop | its going to blow because happiness like this is dangerous and I want my body to forget the call to flee or fight or freeze or fall apart when the sink is full of dishes and I've forgotten something important and I've been misunderstood again and "no...please...wait...I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry"
I want to forget the memories that surface in the middle of the night when I wake up sweating and shaking and whimpering after dreaming of nightmarish eels dragging me under.
Forgiveness is not so easy
of all the shackles
that bind me, dim me, restrain me
How many of these are only illusions of my own invention?
Forget | Forgive
It's just that anger is hard to process you know? It comes out of me in little spurts still. Some days I back pedal. Not for no reason. Another layer gets peeled back and I'm right back in it again. Reeling. Seething. Questioning why.
Except I do know why, and it changes fucking nothing
Mostly now I just feel sorry.
Sorry that I spent so many years trying to push a cart with broken wheels and spikes on the handles
Sorry that I drowned myself in your pain and forgot it wasn't mine to swim in
Sorry that I couldn't heal myself without first burning it all down
Sorry I didn't know better
I guess it wasn't all for nothing though was it?
I learned what love isn't
And I found that strength that survivors talk about, like:
Because of this I can feel more deeply, fight more bravely, speak more powerfully, and hold my calmest center through the wildest storms
Because you ran your rollercoaster into my castle, I had the chance to rebuild the whole damn park
Because I withered in our chaotic grip, I learned how to birth myself again in a whole new light
Because the picture changed, I took apart the puzzle and began undoing the patterns that threw us at each other to begin with
Because of us I am healthier and happier than I have ever been
Forgetting is not so easy
I drank the rain
The ocean isn't deep enough
The planets don't spin fast enough
The clouds are filled with heaviness
I crave the rain
Rain in the desert is a beautiful thing
It can wash all the gravel from my feet
And fill me with something so complete
It grows in the cracks between stone slabs
Worn down by former storms
Touch it too softly and it may shatter
I drank the rain
NOT ENOUGH | TOO MUCH
If eagles could swim, well I believe they would
And if fish could fly, I believe they would
But we can't dream in fantasies like this can we dear?
The heartbreak is too much to bear when we realize the real world doesn't care
Why do we believe we must be perfect to be loved?
Why do we so stubbornly believe there's not enough?
Are we here to live or are we only here to die?
But when I see the sunrise
I feel a little more alive
I know I don't more than you
And you don't know more than me
Just another human trying to muddle my way through
If I pour myself into you, will you pour into me?
Why do I believe I must be perfect to be loved?
Why do I so stubbornly believe I'm not enough?
And am I here for reasons or am I only here to try?
Darling when I see the sunrise
I feel more alive
I just want to catch my breath again, in the moments in between.
Let me remember I'm safe here in this bed.
Allow me to relax into unknowns.
Help me breathe into the quiet of the in-betweens.
Lend me the space to hear my heart.
When you hold me, the muscles in my shoulders fall, and that was all I needed after all.
Small steps are okay too
You're doing so much more than you know
Or perhaps you do know
It's okay to give yourself some credit too
Day by day you're doing it
Things just take some time to unfold
It is not selfish to take this time to heal and grow stronger
It is not a crime to indulge in yourself a little
To nourish yourself
To explore and reclaim the hidden parts
Your service will be better for it
Your love, kinder
Take heart, have courage
There are no wrong answers here
Nor right ones
GROUND | DREAM
My creative spirit lives in a changeable cavern of collected art supplies, self-important poetry, vibrant vulnerabilities, and cleansing dreams that come in every shade of blue. Spaces that carve out a home for my esoteric practice, my radical visions, my intuitive movements, my most spiritual self expression. The pictures that appear deep below the surface when I'm waking, resting, playing, exploring, existing unfiltered.
This is the one that has been with me always, since before I could walk or talk or even cry out for validation. Before anyone told me this wasn't a proper sort of place to raise a family. Before anyone told me it was too fanciful a fairytale to spend any time with. This is the one that calls to me at twilight in whale song whenever I'm away too long and invites me to walk barefoot in the mud and dive deep into an ocean full of stars.
found | lost
Can we sit in the garden and take in the scent of the flowers we grew here?
Alone, through the winter, we dug in the soil
And pushed through the dirt like worms
Into the darkest of fears
The most painful of wounds
And we swallowed them whole out of love and moved through it
wriggle by wriggle
Until each unearthed remnant becomes part of our grounding
but richer, more fertile, broken open for planting new seeds
for the roses that bloom here
with thorns to protect us
green leaves to nourish
and petals of soft pinks and blood reds
and hues like the sun
when it rises
Feed and water regularly
Allow plenty of sunlight and time outdoors
No olives. They are gross
To see her dance simply play music and pretend not to watch
For best results, bring her coffee every morning
Battery must be recharged monthly by setting her out to bathe in the light of the full moon
Follow all safety precautions
Handle with care
tangled | unfettered
Sometimes darling, I just like to be free for a little while
Without a single task, activity, or intention
To the evening chorus of birds puttering in the trees
The planes flying overhead
I imagine what it would feel like to let everything go
To release the tension in my shoulders and jaw
Abandon my judgement, explanation, or deeper meaning
And simply notice
The chill of the air on my legs
The crinkling of leaves skipping across the pavement
And I wonder if I grew a little garden of my own
Could I let it grow wild and unrefined
Tangled and unfettered
Calm like the morning breeze
after all this
i really am trying
From my own faraway fortress of safety, strength, and growth
I can love you now in a way so drastically removed from the way my child heart tried to
I can dare to nurture my own broken-open heart and walk with something like grace
To enjoy my happiness and still pray for yours
And allow my regrets, my grief, my anger, my triggers, my stories and lies to one by one dissolve in the shadows and burn up in the sun
Please say it again
I am allowed to be happy
Please say it again
I am allowed to have peace
Please, just one more time
BODY | SOUL
She's dancing again
In the candlelight with the windows open on the second floor of an uncertain temporary home
The ink has yet to dry
But in the movements of her muscle memories she can feel the rumbling whisper of freedom and the song of rebirth
What a treat it is to be able to bring my vision to life in this virtual space, and what an honor and a privilege to share my work with you here in this way!
You're welcome to return to this space as many times as you wish over the next month or so as I continue rolling out my new collection of Shadow | Light limited-edition prints and products, which will be available here.
As always, please don't hesitate to reach out to say hi and let me know how you liked this virtual exhibit!