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Animals Speak

My association with Kutztown University's Art Education Department began in 2001 when Dr. Peg Speirs invited me to do a performance as well as show works in the “Art and Healing” exhibition she curated at the University's Sharadin Gallery. It is there I launched The Point of Tears, a performance I presented in many venues here and abroad until 2006. On November 13-19, 2005, I went back as artist in residence, collaborating with two faculty members and 60 students in two sections of an elementary methods course for art education majors in the week leading up to an art education conference. The goal was to create a public performance that fit both the curriculum of the course (Building Relationships with Animals) and the theme of the conference (The Art of Healing)*. I used the structure of “The Council of All Beings”** for our work. The faculty and I collaborated in preparing the students. They had to choose an endangered animal from their region or an animal they had a special connection with and make a mask of it. They also had to write a poem as well save flowers, leaves, rocks, or sticks that spoke to them when they interacted with nature—all materials to be used in the performance.

“...(The students') performance demonstrated deep levels of understanding of what it means to be an artist, teacher, and builder of relationships with life beyond themselves that would not have been evident otherwise... Audience responses were overwhelmingly positive... Working with (Dominique Mazeaud) has been life-changing.” — Dr. Peg Speirs

In Response to Healing, excerpts from my notes for the exhibition catalog

*My intention was not ‘healing’ when I started out as an artist. It happened when I let myself feel the deepest sorrow for “The Endangered Earth…” With the sorrow came an unshakable resolution and a new inspiration to speak on its behalf… so began the seven-year pilgrimage/ritual performance The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande. So perhaps one could say feeling leads to healing… that the voice that speaks on behalf of feeling is a source for the creative process… I let others use the word healing*… This exploration, I am learning, comes from a depth that requires humility. Cultivating/listening to that special little voice inside is something I strive for… finding a way to communicate what it tells me is what I do now … the form so far has been ritual. The works included in this exhibition are excerpts from installations (Yitzhak & Leila’s Shoes) traces from past ritual work (Life–Art Footprints,) seeds for future projects (The Last Performance Project, Re-visited) or examples of ritual gestures like “Tender Prayer.”

*“To heal: To make sound, well, or healthy again… To cure or get rid of disease, restore… To free from grief, troubles… To remedy or get rid of… To make up… reconcile…”

** From Thinking Like a Mountain/towards a Council of All Beings, by John Seed, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming and Arne Naess, New Society Publishers, 1988.

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