Posts Tagged ‘art’

A Whisper Across Time: My Family’s Story of the Holocaust Told Through Art and Poetry, by Olga Campbell

May 1, 2018

I wanted to share something special with you. A friend of mine had been repressing, then actively processing an inherited trauma for most of her life. By educating herself, seeking professional help, writing and creating art, she has been able to make sense of it all. She just published a book about her powerful healing journey. She hopes it will resonate with those going through a trauma-induced grief, deepen our understanding and prevent such future catastrophes. I’ve seen the book. It’s a stunning artistic record of her ongoing transformation. Here’s what she sent me.

A Whisper Across Time book coverA Whisper Across Time is the story of one family’s experiences in the Holocaust. Olga Campbell tells a very personal and moving story through prose, art and poetry, creating a multi-dimensional snapshot of family losses and inter-generational trauma. Campbell’s art and poetry reflect the theme of sorrow and sadness created by this dark period of history. This is a story of remembering and healing. It is also a cautionary tale asking the reader to look at what is happening in the world today. Part memoir, part poetry, and art, A Whisper Across Time will make you stop, feel and reflect.

Seventeen years ago, after listening to a radio program about second generation Holocaust survivors, Olga Campbell experienced feelings she had spent a lifetime repressing. Her experience of grief, sorrow and sadness had their origins in events that happened to her family during the Holocaust. She started to confront these feelings by creating a solo multimedia exhibition in 2005 called Whispers Across Time. 

A year ago she felt compelled to write her family’s story. It felt as if her ancestors were whispering to her, encouraging her to do this. A Whisper Across Time is the result of these whispers.

Olga Campbell is a visual artist living in Vancouver, B. C. Her art work includes photography, sculpture, mixed media painting, and digital photo collage. She is also the author of Graffiti Alphabet. See more of Olga’s work at www.olgacampbell.com and olgacampbellart.

Olga has been practicing Transcendental Meditation since 1967. She became at teacher of Transcendental Meditation in Rishikesh, India in 1970 and is a recertified Governor.

In her book she writes: “This personal journey was at times very difficult. However, there were and continue to be experiences in my life which make it easier … This daily practice of meditation for over half a century of time, has been transformational and life-affirming.

Praise for A Whisper Across Time

Olga Campbell’s poignant tribute to family murdered in the Shoa is a personal triumph. With words and art she has created an emotional response to a psychologically wounded mother and her inadvertent legacy of trauma. Her enormous artistic talents and insights provide not only a measure of healing but also of faithfulness to memory — the lives unlived are not forgotten. This is a precious contribution to the literature of the Holocaust and to resolving the consequences of catastrophic trauma. — Dr. Robert Krell, Founding President, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

A Whisper Across Time is a profoundly moving experience. It is a healing ritual, a Shamanic soul retrieval, a celebration of life, and a gift of gratitude to the family Olga Campbell never really knew. She reminds us that it is never too late to heal the sorrows of the past or to protect the future from the dangers of forgetting.Ann Mortifee, Performing Artist, Writer for theatre, ballet and films

A Whisper Across Time by Olga Campbell is now available in Vancouver, BC, Canada. To order a copy, contact Olga at olgac1@telus.net. The cost is $25 US plus $6 shipping and handling.

A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are

January 2, 2015

I recently enjoyed watching Words and Pictures, a 2013 film about a male English teacher and a female art instructor who form a rivalry that ends up galvanizing students in a competition to decide the most effective way to communicate, using words or pictures. This battle between mind and heart, ideas and feelings, is also about self-discovery, expressing one’s creativity, and the blocks that get in the way. Cleverly written by Gerald Di Pego, a one-time English teacher, and faithfully directed by Fred Schepisi, it stars Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, and Bruce Davison. Visit their website for more info: http://wordsandpicturesthemovie.com.

I especially liked the quotes about writing and art, the word vs. the image. A poem by Mary Oliver was supposed to be featured in the film. They never said which one, but kept waiting for permission to use it. By the time the answer came in, no, it was too late, and they had to come up with a replacement. The pressure was on screenwriter Gerald Di Pego. Being a poet himself, and seeing how this was his screenplay, the muse inspired him and he wrote this very vivid and appropriate poem, just in time. Juliette Binoche liked it, which came as a relief to him and the director. I found it online and wanted to share it with you. The poem plays a central role, but you’ll have to see the film to find out who wrote it and how it’s used.

WHO ARE YOU?

I am a small poem
On a page with room
For another.

Share with me
This white field,
Wide as an acre
Of snow, clear
But for these tiny
Markings like the
Steps of a bird.
Come. Now.

This is the trough
Of the wave, the
Seconds after
Lightning, thin
Slice of silence
As music ends,
The freeze before
The melting. Hurry.

Lie down beside me.
Make angels. Make devils.
Make who you are.

As you can see, the poem invites you to create and become who you are, from that gap, the transitional point of possibility, and to share in the experience with another. Here’s a poem I wrote after a special painting class that seems relevant: ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening.

Interestingly, the Special Features part of the DVD revealed that Juliette Binoche, an artist in her own right, offered to do all of the paintings herself, which thrilled both writer and director. Because her character is dealing with physical challenges due to her medical condition, she had to paint in different styles, from portraiture to more abstract. Binoche enjoyed the added challenge and it possibly influenced her own future work.

Here is the official Words and Pictures – International Trailer (2014) HD.

When it comes to romantic movies, here are some of my favorite films where love transcends time.

Canadian Connection: These shoes are made for walking

The featurette also confirmed for me where they had made the film. The story is set in a New England prep school, but was actually shot at St. George’s School, an independent boarding and day university-preparatory school for boys in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a.k.a., Hollywood North.

I recognized the location, and it reminded me of a story I had heard on a local CBC radio talk show during my stay there. The guest was an English teacher who taught at St. George’s School. One of the topics being discussed was meeting famous people. Listeners called in to share their stories and the teacher related an unusual event that had recently happened to him.

He had gone shopping at a well-known store for comfortable walking shoes. He settled on a particular pair and the sales clerk told him it was a popular item. She said someone famous had been in that morning and purchased a similar pair. She left to find out the name of the celebrity, but got sidetracked, so he left.

He put on his new shoes and, as was his routine everyday after lunch, he went for a walk in the woods next to the school property. While walking along the path, eyes downcast, he saw a pair of shoes just like his, coming his way. Looking up he saw someone he never would have expected to see, especially in the forest. He pointed at him in surprise trying to say his name, but it came out as gibberish. The person mimicked him sputtering his name. It was Robin Williams! I think he was in town at that time filming Jumanji.

They had a wonderful walk and talk together. Robin had asked him what he did for a living and where he worked, which was something he could identify with having played an English teacher at an elite boys prep school in Dead Poets Society. When they reached the edge of the forest, there was Robin’s stretch limousine parked on the street waiting for him. He invited the teacher into the car saying they would drop him off at the school.

Now this man was not the most popular teacher at the school. When they pulled up, he got out of the limo, and all heads turned to look at him. Then Robin lowered the darkly tinted window, stuck his head out, and thanked the teacher for a wonderful time. All the kids’ jaws dropped! And from that day on he was the coolest person at school. Thank you, Robin! God Bless you, wherever you are.

Not the loss alone — a poem by Gregory Orr

October 22, 2013

Not the loss alone,
But what comes after.
If it ended completely
At loss, the rest
Wouldn’t matter.

But you go on.
And the world also.

And words, words
In a poem or song:
Aren’t they a stream
On which your feelings float?

Aren’t they also
The banks of that stream
And you yourself the flowing?

~ Gregory Orr ~

 (Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved)

See two other poems by Gregory Orr from the same book:

Let’s remake the world with words

Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved

 

Canadian artist Greg Thatcher goes to Painswick every summer to paint its famous yew trees

August 23, 2012

Stroud News and Journal, 4:00pm Tuesday 7th August 2012 in News Canadian artist travels to Painswick every year to paint its famous yew trees by Hayley Mortimer, Reporter

A CANADIAN artist has travelled to Painswick to paint its famous yew trees.

Greg Thatcher, 63, who lives in Iowa, has been painting the trees at St Mary’s Church for more than 20 years and works on location from June to August every year.

The yew trees were planted in the Middle Ages and Mr Thatcher says they form the most beautiful yew tree avenues in the world.

He first saw them in a travel brochure while working in Lancashire in 1991.

At first, he worked from photographs but after visiting the churchyard he was inspired by the different shapes and intricate details.

Mr Thatcher said: “I have been drawn to them. I just keep seeing deeper and deeper levels of where I can start. It is an ongoing relationship.

“The process is very stimulating and nourishing to my creativity and imagination.

“Even after 20 years I am still finding more angles and more information to work with.

“I love Painswick and enjoy coming back each year. My trips have been pivotal to my career. It has given me access to a unique and inspiring landscape.”

Mr Thatcher spends between six and eight hours a day working on the drawings and many take more than 350 hours to complete.

He and his wife stay a mile away from the churchyard so Mr Thatcher can cycle to and from the site every day.

Mr Thatcher teaches art and art history to children aged 13 to 17 in a small school in Iowa.

He has a bachelor of fine art from the University of Victoria and a masters in painting and drawing from the University of Saskatchewan.

A series of drawings of the yew trees has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, England and France and his work hangs in corporate and private collections across the world.

For more information go to www.gregthatchergallery.com.

You can see photos of Greg, the trees, and his drawings in the online article bit.ly/Rg2k25, and in a pdf of Inspiration found under the boughs.

Art of the Haiku by Ken Chawkin

July 19, 2012

Art of the Haiku

do away with words
and you’ll have a way with words
speak less and say more

© Ken Chawkin

Also see Haiku On The Nature of Haiku

ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening

January 7, 2012

Ever tried painting? I mean the creative kind, not just painting the walls of your apartment. During my last year (1998), living in Vancouver, BC, Canada, one of my friends gave me the gift of an art class with Anita Nairne, an intuitive artist and teacher. She had been studying with Anita and I was impressed with the transformation in her artwork. At the time Anita was promoting her classes as Paint with your Angels. I found her website and she now calls her Intuitive Painting workshops & classes Creative Awakening.

Painting From The Inside Out

Anita is like a midwife to your artistic instincts. It was an unforgettable experience. She gave me a large white gessoed piece of thick art paper stock, brushes, and acrylic paints, and told me to just cover it with paint, anyway I liked. Without realizing what was happening, I found myself freely, intuitively brushing blotches of paint all over the paper. I was having fun. At one point she took the paper and put it up on the wall under lights and asked me what I saw. She would outline those shapes with chalk, or erase them, depending on what I thought was there. Much to my surprise, the edges of those blotches looked like facial profiles. She returned the artwork and showed me how to accentuate and bring out the faces. At one point, I realized I was ‘painting’ a sort of visual biography of my life, ‘recognizing’ some of the people I had loved, and who had loved me, or at least attempts at loving.

Feelings Not Thoughts

During this process my active thinking mind was not involved—a rare occurrence for someone who’s used to working with words all the time to express himself. I was now creating from a deeper, quieter, more intuitive place within me. I was painting from my heart. I was painting feelings, and they were telling me something! That realization blew my mind. Automatically the words started to form in my mind to describe what had just happened. Below is a poem from that experience.

ArtWords

The artwork informs
The canvas reveals
The mind then knows
What the heart feels

The faces in the painting
The pictures of my life
Where love was a saviour
Where love caused much strife

This process uncovers
Those parts of our lives
To show us the truth
To make us more wise

It’s possible to know
It’s possible to forgive
I’ll never forget you
As long as I live

© Ken Chawkin

I returned for two more classes. I was taking a new direction in my life and was getting ready to leave town in a few months to join the Purusha group in North Carolina. During my last class, I guess that sense of impending movement and transformation, the anticipated travel and making a new beginning, was trying to express itself on paper. I ended up painting a brightly colored phoenix bird at the top, flying eastward. Prophetic!

Here is a related poem featured in a film about verbal vs visual creativity: A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are.

Poetry—The Art of The Voice

September 12, 2009

Poetry—The Art of The Voice

How fine will your breath become
from listening to these words?
How soft will they seem to be
as they settle through the mind
like silent snowflakes falling
from a windless winter sky?

I often marvel at the mystery—
how words can work
on a listener’s heart and mind,
upon hearing a poet’s thoughts,
a poet’s breath, flowing
from an inner voice—
a windless wind, speaking
through a voiceless voice.

—Ken Chawkin

This poem was published in THIS ENDURING GIFT, A Flowering of Fairfield Poetry, 76 Poets Who Found Common Ground in One Small Prairie Town:, and later selected as the POEM OF THE DAY: Poetry – The Art of the Voice, by Ken Chawkin.

William Stafford—You and Art

September 10, 2009

You and Art

Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance,
walking alone.
And you live on a world where stumbling
always leads home.

Year after year fits over your face—
when there was youth, your talent
was youth;
later, you find your way by touch
where moss redeems the stone;

and you discover where music begins
before it makes any sound,
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow.

—William Stafford

Also see William Stafford—A Course in Creative Writing

Listen to You and Art performed by Daniel Sperry from his CD: William Stafford: Cutting Loose ~ A Tribute To William Stafford.

I later included the last stanza of this Stafford poem in response to The Poetry Society’s tweet of the last half of Wallace Stevens’s poem, The Snow Man, which they liked. The imagery is similar, and the GIF they used of snow falling also fits perfectly with both poems.

My poem, Poetry—The Art of the Voice, communicates that silent music from nature to poet to audience, where it “begins before it makes any sound” as Stafford wrote at the end of You and Art.

And my poem, Telling the Story of Silence by Ken Chawkin, allows that silence to tell its own story, the “Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is” as Stevens wrote in The Snow Man.

 


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