My favorite part of the conference, hands down, was hanging out in the Maker area of the Cultural Rhetorics Conference. The Cultural Rhetorics Conference provides a very unique space for intercultural interactions, because it is based on the idea that culture is made through practices. Among others, I had the chance to listen and make with two Native artists, Bonita Bent and Holly Meyers. Boni taught me about the history and tradition of quill working, and with her help, I made a made a white band with a rainbow in the middle (using white and dyed porcupine quills). Rainbows have always been special to my family (particularly during times of loss), and making this piece felt healing as I had recently lost a childhood pet. Listening and creating felt very nurturing, and reminded me how important art is to me.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an artist. My parents and I still have the many drawings (many of rainbows and suns that wore sunglasses – get it?) stored away. I even have a non-sensical (or maybe just extremely abstract?) poem from when I was in first or second grade. I also used to write more stories that simply described experiences that I had in nature. Right now, as I am immersed in the job market, I once again feel a draw to do more art.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I realize that I crave art for many reasons. 1) To express myself. 2) Just to be creative. 3) To remind myself of the big picture during times of change (a way to anchor myself, spiritually). 4) to cope with loss. Last spring, after losing a very close friend, I went out on a whim and bought some paints. I painted my agenda book, modeled after Van Gogh’s Starry Night:
Perhaps I’ll paint something new soon. Or maybe just sketch. No matter how I do it, I want to make a point to do more art. It’s still important to me, and I hope it always will be.