My production company, Creatista, is currently working on a documentary-style film about an interesting intersection of art and the community. Tucson-based muralist David Tineo is working with a group of people from different worlds occupying the same city block.
The Hedrick Acres Neighborhood (HANA) is home to the headquarters of CODAC Behavioral Health Services. Working together, CODAC, the neighborhood and David are creating community and building bridges of understanding through art. Over the course of 8 weeks, CODAC members, many who struggle with issues of substance use disorders, mental illness and abuse are working together with residents of the neighborhood to create a public mural project under David’s supervision.
In an organic process of creation, participant artists worked individually, then in small teams and finally together to create the general layout for the mural on 8 panels. The edges of the mural begin with a sort of whirlwind of personal and group symbols that becomes more and more concrete and less complex as the eye moves in to the middle. The center of mural is a heart. Pure and simple. When It’s all done, in about 5 weeks, I’ll share some images.
In the mean time, I’m fascinated by the process, which I think is also pure of heart.
People who might not have found themselves in the same room 4 weeks ago are collaborating in an organic fashion. The personal categories, from what I can see, are pretty much going or gone as the piece is developing. It’s not an “us and them” sort of situation. I told my friend. Kristine, who works for CODAC, that I was amazed that I really can’t discern who’s who. If I didn’t have a little inside information, I wouldn’t be able to tell the members from the staff from the neighbors.
So there is a purity to the process…different than a perfection. The purity is when one person looks at another person in the eyes without a sense of judging who they are or where they’ve been. It’s a “Namaste“. The recognition of the shared sacred in both people, or all people. It is dignity, compassion, and generous affection.
Well, as the Beatitude goes, if you can see the sacred in another person, I can’t imagine any way that you aren’t seeing the divine. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” When you drop the prejudices and the expectations and the judgement…when you enter that “I/Thou” space that Kimberly discussed, I think maybe that’s when the sacred shines. There all the time, but discovered over and over in that other person on their unique journey, and with you on the common journey.
You write so well. Another artistic talent! Wonderful article/blog Scott. I love that you include concepts from other philosophies and religions through a progressive Christian view point. It fosters harmony and acceptance of one another. Forgiveness of human error by seeing past that into the divinity of each person. Just beautiful. And something we need right now…or maybe always have/do.
I stuck this up on my Facebook page, but it seems to work here, too.
Thanks, Elizabeth and Ed. I’m not a big fan of purity, myself. There’s a Hasidic tale that basically says you have to get down in the muck with people. It’s not enough to stand on the ladder and lend a hand. I would add the recognizing the fact that we already ARE the people in the muck isn’t a bad place to start. How could we climb down when we are already down? I don’t buy that we are naturally sinful, just that we have our place in the ambiguity of life. So I think that may mean being in the muck is the key to a pure heart. Engaging people at the level of their people-ness (and our own people-ness) and tossing out the idea that perfection is any sort of goal for the divine.