Members’ Voices

Excerpts from Journey Home

by Renu O’Connell

above: Renu O’Connell, Past and Present, casein, 26 x 34

This year I found myself coming home both to myself and to my ‘homes’ that hold my past and present.

I will begin by by describing the journey back to the place that never felt like home but now does. I was born In Detroit, Michigan, lived there in my formative days, then moved to the suburbs that did not feel like home.

Months before this visit I had been asking myself what mattered the most to me in the political climate of 2018. The issue of immigration is central to our country. I started to look for images of immigrant farmers to paint and found many who were urban farmers in Detroit. So, excitedly, I began to read that there was enough land to feed the whole city which was considered a realistic goal.

There is an intimacy between decay and life and there is a contrast between what seems gone and what is actually growing life. What I saw were 1400 farms, many that have community connection; centers for education, places to gather and eat, all contained in an area that could fit San Francisco, Boston, and the borough of Manhattan within the city limits. I began to paint Detroit farmers, many of whom had roots in the great migration from the South. Many of these people’s children and grandchildren are coming home to their innate sense of nurturance of the land. Farmers see themselves as makers of history.

Other immigrants, like my ancestors from Ireland, came to Michigan to farm as a result of the great potato famine. For the first time in my life I considered the pure hopelessness and destitution they had to face. When they arrived in their new home on Mackinac Island, they tried to farm but the soil was too rocky.

How does this journey take anyone back to self? First off I believe until we mourn our ancestors’ losses, we will never be whole in ourselves. This is why it seems valuable to fill in the “holes” in our ancestral backgrounds. As we come closer to understanding their lives, we can see our selves belonging to a universal family. It is a human need to want to experience the “Phoenix rising from the ashes”. It is human to seek newness and hope. It is in all of us that we wish to plant seeds that germinate and offer nourishment on so many levels.  For me there is something passionate within that wants to participate in the mending of this united fabric of states belonging to our immigrants and relatives and for this I give thanks to the pioneers past and present.

 

Excerpts from Origin Stories

by David Wade

David Wade, Seaweed Abstract, photograph, 15 x 20

For me, as with many artists, the sea is an inspiration, an eternal muse  … it’s a font of creativity… it’s a call to play and make art and discover… and a trip to the shore is like a return to my beginnings, both ancient and modern … like going back home again… and it’s no coincidence that all of us have in our veins the same percentage of salt in our blood that is in our oceans…and that salt is also in our blood, in our sweat, and in our tears… so whenever we go back to the sea, we are going back to our very origins, to the source from which we came… these origins go back to before the dawn of history, when the first life began to bubble up from the primordial soup, where our original ancestors took their first breath and Life itself began…

These Maine shores draw me like a tide, which I cannot resist. At the shore, I hear the ocean sing its siren song… it seduces my eyes and ears, and serenades my soul… the sea speaks to me… and I answer…  like a child, I put my ear up to a sea shell and listen…  and I hear the distant sound of eternity.. …  the sea’s cycles bring me back into tune with Mother Nature and the slow pulse of eternal time…    always the seaside sets my spirit free….…and it is where I am most like a child, filled with inspiration, awe, and endless wonder……