Saturday, June 11, 2011

Art as prayer

This image came together this morning in response to a piece about Brazil's approval of the controversial Belo Monte Dam Project.  I get that damming a river is the least polluting way to generate power, but at the same time the thought of displacing between 30,000 and 40,000 indigenous peoples and flooding the Amazon basin seems unacceptable. 

... and here I'm adding a discovery that came to me as I was writing the poem after posting this (and realized that the image I'd worked on yesterday before reading about the dam was -- you guessed it, a dam.)  The discovery is this: that decisions like this, made by those in power, for largely economic reasons, almost always have a way of damming up vital resources, so that where once they were shared evenly, they're now divided unfairly, so that some have too much and others have too little...

So of course it was inevitable that I would read this morning, in Jean Bolen's Crones Don't Whine that women "become rebellious and radical as they grow older... fiercely compassionate when they are outraged at the suffering... of terrorized, abused, helpless and neglected people, whose plight is considered of little importance because they have no power or value in a world where greed and power over others rather than concern for others is the ruling principle... Women become radicalized through empathy."

And that's true: reading about the dam made me wonder, if only briefly, about going to Brazil and joining the fight to destroy the project.  I get that that's not feasible.  But what can we do when things like this happen "even after tens of thousands of letters and emails addressed to Brazil's president, which were ignored as were the more than 600,000 signatures?"

I don't have an answer, any more than I have an answer to any of the other horrific things that are going on in the world -- and there are lots of them; new horrors perpetrated daily.  There are days when it makes me feel really helpless -- and terribly guilty, both for not doing or caring more, and for the relative ease of my own life.  And I don't know what to do with those feelings -- but that's where faith and art come in.  I have to have faith that my prayers and concerns might somehow make a difference.  And art becomes a way of expressing those prayers and concerns.  Creating an image is a kind of prayer, and a kind of tonglen; a breathing in of the pain of the world, and a painting out of all the pieces of the picture that emerges...


Maureen said...

"Creating an image is a kind of prayer....": Yes! An image brings awareness and sometimes necessary action.

Wonderful image. Your sixth sense is remarkable.

Louise Gallagher said...

How synchronous -- I was just came home from watching -- Once Upon A Time In Rio -- and I wanted to board a plane and go and tell them to stop. Stop shooting. Stop killing. Stop hurting one another.

And I felt helpless -- and then I remembered that the film's creator lives in a barrio -- and he made this film to make the world better through his voice.

And I think -- it is our voice. Our creations that add beautiful prayers that will create the action.

And it is a wonderful image.