Lately, writing my rya book has been first and highest priority in my daily life. But with the stress of the recent presidential election and its outcome, I found myself sitting quietly in the studio last Sunday and wondering how to move on. I had not even looked at my book document on my computer for nearly a week. I was not productive in any way.
Even though I had not carved a woodcut or linocut in over a year, I found myself taking a linoleum block from my carving bin and started to draw safety pins on it. (The safety pin is being worn by many to symbolize standing together and uniting for the safety of others. When I saw a woman wearing a safety pin on her sweater in the market the other day, I felt a bit of optimism and comfort. Such a small thing to wear a pin, but a big thing if it makes others feel camaraderie or united in some way. )
I laid a little pin on the block and drew it, then moved it and drew it again, then opened it and drew it again. Next thing you know I was carving it and within a couple of hours it was done! The process has been healing for me, but the real healing came when I thought, “I can not ‘market’ this art like my other designs, because there are too many people really hurting now and it would be unfair for me to profit on their loss.” I got a big smile on my face (the first in days) when I realized that I could market them as printed shirts where a significant portion of the cost of the shirt would go to directly benefit marginalized people in our community and aid in creating unity among us all. I named the design: Unity.
I selected two nonprofits which are near and dear to my heart and have promised $10 from each shirt sale to either of these nonprofits as selected by the person purchasing the shirt. I have hand printed a total of 30 shirts in Ladies and Unisex style in long and short sleeves. But I also have recently received from my local silk screener 200 more, so they can be distributed far and wide without taking up every minute of my life doing the printing by hand.
The nonprofits (to start with) and their missions are as follow:
- Common Ground on the Hill. “Our world is one of immense diversity. As we explore and celebrate this diversity, we find that what we have in common with one another far outweighs our differences. Our common ground is our humanity, often best expressed by artistic traditions that have enriched human experience through the ages. We invite you to join us in searching for common ground as we assemble around the understanding that we can improve ourselves and our world by searching for the common ground in one another, through the lens of our artistic traditions. In a world filled with divisive, negative news, we seek to discover, create and celebrate good news.” Walt Michael, Founder & Executive Director
You may recall from previous blogs and newsletters that nearly every summer for the past 15+ years I have taken classes during their summer camps and for the past two years I have been teaching rya rug making classes.
2. Mary’s Center “Our mission is to build better futures through the delivery of health care, education, and social services. We embrace culturally diverse communities to provide them with the highest quality of care, regardless of ability to pay.”
My niece, Emily, has worked in Washington DC at Mary’s Center since graduating from college. Actually she did an internship there during college. She has shared with me the wonderful service they provide. I like to support them.
If you would like an original hand-printed T-shirt, you can buy them now through my etsy shop for $25 or $30 for long sleeves. Each time one sells, I remove that shirt’s description for the dropdown menu of availability.
Later: On Dec. 2nd I picked up 200 more shirts from my local silk-screen printer. They are currently listed in my etsy shop, Byrdcall.
Designing, carving, and printing this design was healing for me. generating funds for my favorite unifying nonprofits makes me feel good and I love knowing that each person who buys a shirt is wearing it with pride and love.
I am back to writing my book now. Yesterday I made progress, and today I plan to wrap up Chapter 5! I am thankful to have art as an outlet in life to work through stress and challenges. I hope you are all well and doing the same in your own way. United we will make it better. We will go forward with eyes open.
Donation Update: As of 2/7/17 the sales of these shirts have generated $450 for Mary’s Center, $280 for Common Ground on the Hill and $140 for the Social Justice Committee of Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalist Church. One day in the studio–with hopes for a more peaceful world has put $870 in the hands of people working to make that difference. And the donations continue.