Tag Archives: Goddard College

All who wander are not lost

Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts speaks of Organic Spirituality, “where I listen for what is unfolding, what is the thread drawing me forward, rather than planning the next step.”

This is the faith I have practiced for many years. It is a flow of teachings from many faiths and poets that inspire my life. I learn from reading and discussing and listening to the path other people have travelled and over time, this informs my belief, my thinking and my creativity. I do not have a ready-made life map to consult, the elements I glean from others and the discoveries I make along the way inform my map and in turn, in talk or word, I share the twists and turns with others who may choose to venture onto parts of the road I have travelled or who are guided by my experience as I am guided by others. So I wrote some lines inspired by the poem by Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875 – 1939) which I share with you.

 “…wanderer there is no way, the way is made by walking.” Antonio Machado

I had some thoughts on this
line from a wise man
and modern technology
got me lost
by deleting my words
my wise thoughts
they were lost
I was lost
and I know they
were really good
gold nuggets
so I’m back on the path
abandoning the thought
searching for bread crumbs
to try and reconstruct
the way
it won’t be the same
not the same at all
full of frustration
win some lose some
there you have it

“…wanderer there is no way, the way is made by walking.” Antonio Machado

notice he says
that the way is made by walking
not running
not skipping
not jumping
not meandering
not moseying
the way is made by walking
not with direction
but with purpose
to make a way
that is strong and good
to make a way
that will sustain
that is serious stuff

have I given my way
the stern look it
has asked for
time and time again?

well… no
I have looked but
like a puppy chasing a butterfly
in the park
and suddenly seeing
a cat, a child, the hot dog vendor
I have looked away

“…wanderer there is no way, the way is made by walking.” Antonio Machado

and so it goes and so it goes
the way is bleak some days
and the thought
of taking one
more
step is really
more than I can bear

but then I close my eyes
and take a breath
and then another
and when my eyes open again
I am revived
to move along
again
perhaps a little slowly
but moving nonetheless

Image – Sacred Trees by Annis Karpenko

The Ritual of Friendship

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
– Anais Nin

I am a loner by nature but one of my most favourite rituals is the ritual of friendship. My life has been blessed by friends over and over again. That is an odd thing for an introvert to say. I crave long stretches of alone time to read and ponder. But I love people and their stories. And I strive to keep my heart open to the possibility of a new adventure happening with each person I meet. I am rarely disappointed.

During our first Residency at Goddard, sixteen strangers came together and bonded through our newness to the experience and our confusion. Each person arrived miraculously with the same open heart and in absolutely no time, we acted like old friends, laughing, crying, eating and sharing our stories together. In eight short days, we collectively wove together a magnificent life cloth that we each took home with us. And the cloth, a kind of symbolic comfort blanket will sustain us in our work. We maintain our friendship through Facebook and email. A few have spontaneously met in person in other locales. And for the next two and a half years, we will remain connected by our Goddard experience. After that, some of the friendships will drift and others will grow stronger – and it doesn’t matter at all which is which.

In my life I have had numerous “situational friends”. These are the people I bonded with through shared experience at work, in school, with my children or with the dog; in the neighbourhoods I have lived and places I have travelled. These friendships were deep and meaningful; I learned many new things; I shared many experiences. When the situations altered by a move, a death, a new job, the time devoted to each friendship diminished and often we just faded out of each other’s lives. But these friendships were no less important; each and every one shaped who I am today.

Each new situation also manifests lifelong friendships. You don’t really know it at the time, but there is a click, continuity to the talk, an ease in the relationship. These friendships flourish over distances and absences and each time you meet or talk again, you pick up the thread exactly where you left off and conversation flows fluidly like you never stopped at all. There is no need to explain things. These friends know instinctively when you need a call and when you are alright even though time has passed by since the last conversation. They know if they need anything, they can call you and that you will in turn call them.

I am blessed in all the friendships I have and have had. They enrich my life and days. They bring me new ideas, new ways of thinking, new hope when the days are dark, an opportunity to be kind and honest and loving in my life. They sustain me like prayer and quiet. How is your life coloured by others? What shared experiences with friends do you cherish?

Orientation

“Transactional, Transformative, Reconstructive, Consequential Education seems basic to persons who, as the Goddard Mission states, will ‘learn, think, and act with intelligence and responsibility in such a way that they will be increasingly active in improving the physical, social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual conditions of persons everywhere, and in restoring and creating a life-enhancing environment.’”

Yesterday was Registration (very easy) and multi-orientations. We received an abundance of information, insight and inspiration and finding time to process it all is tricky. Program Director, Jackie Hayes, a calm and nurturing spirit, talked us through the MFA IA program; the details, the intent, the expectations and the hoped outcomes. As my dear Aunt Mary might have said, “It was deep!” Our research will be inquiry-based, where curiosity plays out in shape and form to create context for community. We have gone around the room and introduced ourselves – our name, where we are from, our art practice, why we are at Goddard – three times now, and each time our responses change. The flow of ideas burble up from our depths as we listen to each other formulate new plans and acknowledge, “Before I thought <that>, but now I’m thinking <this>.”

We had an Introduction to Library & Computing Services – and Rob, Greg and Chip did a masterful job in explaining the nitty-gritty of all things technical at Goddard. They were patient as we unravelled and stumbled through log-ins and glitches. By the end of the day, we all had our email accounts activated, we had accessed Goddard Net;  we discussed Research Tools & Techniques, annotated bibliographies and MLA formatting. The Eliot Pratt Library at Goddard is a massively stocked library with the added challenge of assisting students who are studying all over North America. You can take up to 30 books/items away with you at the end of residency and they are not due back until the next one. They will also ship any books you might need during the term. And we got our Goddard College student cards making us official!

There was an Orientation to Community Life and Academic and Disabilities Support. To say that the Goddard model is refreshing is an understatement. It is transforming to be able to think and act and work as an artist in a place with like-minded and supported colleagues. Great effort and intention is placed on providing that opportunity and support to students always. As we were reminded, it is not always easy for adult learners to ask for help, but if we need any, it is available to us in myriad ways. Thanks Susan, Max and Dvora.

Opening Session – welcome to the Spring 2012 Goddard Residency was our evening event. This year’s residency theme is Occupy: Public space, artistic practice and social engagement and the questions posed are: How do we as artists locate ourselves publicly and politically? While the occupy movement started with an agenda of taking action on this country’s economic disparity and corporate greed, how might we work to deepen this agenda to get at the broader moral, socio-cultural, political and ecological issues that inform and underlie the current malaise? How might we bring our skills of social engagement to bear in these discussions? How might we re-examine our practices in framing, audience, and content in order to more effectively speak to personal and political concerns? Might we re-imagine what is understood as public space itself, engaging spaces that are hidden, privatized, ignored, or perhaps not even categorized as “space” at all? How might we go beyond critique of the present to offer new visions for the future?

Each faculty member rose to speak to the theme and questions in their own voice. This gave those of us new to Goddard, an opportunity to listen to and witness the style of each faculty member. This knowledge will inform our decision in choosing an advisor for the coming semesters. Semesters also include various Peer Seminars, where groups of Goddard students and faculty sign up to work together over the semester via telephone or Skype.

In between all of the INFORMATION of the day, we ate some pretty amazing meals in the dining room. The food is healthy, lovingly prepared and delicious. I overheard one student getting ready for a performance in the green room refer to her “Goddard belly”. Before dinner I walked the campus loop a few times to get some fresh air and to hopefully allay that outcome for myself!

There are 16 G1s from east and west, north and south. We are a genial, friendly and supportive group in a nurturing academic environment. As artists, many have come from academic backgrounds that diminished the spirit and creativity. I am tired and overflowing with details right now, but in the best possible way.

P.S. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart. xoxoxox

What is an artist?

The secret of success is … to be fully awake to everything about you & the more you learn the more you can appreciate & get a full measure of joy & happiness out of life. – LeRoy Pollack

There is an interesting article in Canadian Art magazine by Sarah Thornton in which she asks the question, “What is an Artist?” This is a question I often ponder and suspect many of my classmates do as well. As with all philosophical discourse, the questions far out way the answers – but then again, it is not always necessary for answers to be the answer, sometimes the questions are enough. Some of my questions  include: How do thought and spirit effect art? How is art valued? How are artists valued? Where does creativity burble up from? How is an artistic response to social constructs received? And does a negative or positive reception matter? How can the Buddhist concept of grasping relate to art practice? My list grows each day and the unravelling and digging deep into the dirt and grit of these questions is what is so interesting and inspiring.

Things I have learned thus far: You do keep warmer if you wear a hat to bed and if at all possible, always pack a hot water bottle. It was chilly last night but my toes were toasty warm thanks to the hot water bottle and the hat trick worked. A dear classmate has arrived to the frigid Vermont air from Alabama. She shivered through yesterday but assures us her blood will thicken by Saturday. Also, if you think you are packing too much, you’re not.

Goddard College is a very special place and the air is humming with thought and creative energy. It is like everyone is percolating with possibility. Breakfast first then Registration and Orientation later on today.

I have arrived

I can’t say enough about the beautiful drive that one can experience through the state of Vermont. The Green Mountain range of the Northeast Kingdom is spectacular and mystical and filled with nature’s magic. I never get tired of it and have driven through the state hundreds of times. I took a new direction today and headed down Route 16. I cut off I91 at Glover and took a right onto 16 South. If I had happened to turn left, as I have been known to do, I might have stopped by Parker Pie for lunch. The Green Mountain Special with cheddar, baby spinach, red onion, Vermont smoke-cured bacon, apple and fresh garlic drizzled with maple syrup is to die for.

This time though I made a right onto 16 South and detoured over a little to 15 and 14 (don’t ask me how) meandering through Hardwick, Woodbury, Calais and East Montpelier. The roadside attractions are much the same throughout Vermont; barns, wooden houses with rambling porches and gorgeous, rich peeling paint, country stores with sign plastered windows and walls, and gas stations with retro-feeling pumps. In summer you can throw in a few fields of cows and of course the rolling hills and valleys. But today’s big surprise came as I rounded into a long curve in the road and suddenly, there before my eyes was a beautiful long, white barn and along the top of the barn was writ The Museum of Everyday Life. It was an unexpected and  magnificent sight and while I did not take the opportunity to stop today, my nose set on getting to Goddard, I will return. Check out the link – it looks to be a fascinating place.

Arriving at Goddard this time, even via a new road was familiar and happy making. I arrive as a student, a part of this artistic community, not just as an onlooker as I was in October. The campus is lovely and some of the dorms are set farther out on the property but I am housed in the same dorm as I was in October, Kilpatrick, where I am is close to the community center, dining room and Haybarn Gallery. Bridgette, the Perpetual Learner had prepared me well. While it might have appeared that two full suitcases, a hockey bag, computer bag, miscellaneous bits and a purse were excessive, it turns out I brought all the right things. I quickly transformed my room into a home away from home and know I will get lots of work done this week here. And I finally got to meet and thank Bridgette (that’s us) and her lovely daughter at the New Student Welcome reception.

We have a very interesting and eclectic mix of artists making up this year’s G1. There will be lots to learn from each other, but it’s been a long day and everyone is fatigued from travel. So as Scarlett O’Hara liked to say, “Tomorrow is another day.” Sweet dreams all.

We celebrate mundanity, and the mysterious delight embedded in
the banal but beloved objects we touch everyday.
from The Museum of Everyday Life