With Love & Gratitude
I’ve done three International Service Program trips with the University of Scranton. My first one was to El Salvador, the second to Haiti, and the most recent was to Jamaica. Each trip was unique, challenging and offered an opportunity to examine my life.
I was inspired by my favorite encaustic teacher, Nancy Crawford. For her fiftieth birthday, she undertook a project she called, “With Love & Gratitude” (see video here). In this project, she listed fifty people, family, and friends, then she created 100 unique works of art. Then she gave each person on her list two pieces; one to keep and one to share with someone else.
In considering doing something similar I remembered an African concept called “ubuntu”. Ubuntu is defined as “I am because we are”, or “people are not people without other people”. It embodies the idea of these ISP trips.
I wanted to share this idea with the group I was going to Jamaica with. I bought a 32″ by 40″ board. I wrote in India ink “With Love and Gratitude, Jamaica 2018”. Cut it into 16 pieces and set to work. Some of it I utilized the marks that were there, others I used some of my photography, yet others I just painted with different encaustic texture techniques. It was challenging and forced me to explore the medium in ways that I might not have otherwise.
Some of the work had quotes on them others were just art. This gave me the idea that there should be some kind of encouraging quote, or words of wisdom. So, I did some research and printed quotes, with Love & Gratitude on labels with my name. Then did a presentation in which we talked about “Ubuntu” and offered each participant the opportunity to take one piece of art and passed the quotes around and allowed each to take one of these to stick to the back. I hoped that in doing it this way there was a personal connection.
I feel that in a more collective society we realize from the inside out that we need to embrace this personal philosophy, this wisdom of the ages. When we share our joys, shelter, pain, food, achievements, failures, our lives and bear our souls. Only then can we begin to build a better society.
The little space within the heart, is as great as the vast universe.
The heavens and the earth are there,
and the sun and the moon and the stars.
Fire and lightning and winds are there,
and all that now is and all that is not.