We are invited

I am forever grateful at how this drawing moves people. It is not the most complicated thing I have ever drawn, nor did it take the longest. But it was the first, after 20 something years of black pen on paper, that took my breath away. I sat with it when it was finished- open, in wonder- and I still feel that way each time I glance at it on the wall.

Power Lines drawing in a frame

I did not draw it as an intentional tribute to anything other than my own awakening of agency and autonomy, a distinct moment in my adult life. I have found that much of adult(woman)hood is unlearning what society has wanted to teach me. To ask myself simple questions that capitalism wants me to already have the answer to - How do I want to spend my time? How do I want to feel in my life? In my body? In my relationships?

Several years ago I came across a phrase that presented a guide forward through many of these questions.

We are invited to become artists of loving each other. 

It came from a Catholic priest of all places (Father Norm, originally stated: “God invites us to become artists of loving each other”) at a wedding. It has become a guiding pillar of my life from the moment I heard it and I have been practicing it in ways big and small.

Mostly, it has given me the question that umbrellas them all - if every year (and week and day) is a new opportunity to work at this idea - practicing and expressing care and love to every person - how does that manifest? 

  • What thinking can I alter that is contrary to this? 
  • What actions does this lead me to? 
  • What prejudice do I need to untangle? 
  • What behavior is causing harm?
  • What language can I use differently? Better?
  • Who can I listen to more?

To me, being an artist is a constant and lifelong intake of the world, a curiosity of life itself, that then translates into form. So if we are to be artists of loving, of living with actionable care - then we invite ourselves then also to live with conviction and to advocate for the most vulnerable. To hold ourselves up to our own proclaimed values even when it is hard, even when it makes us realize how much we SAY but do not DO. 

While I am not surprised at the turn that the recent SCOTUS decisions have made, I am heartbroken, and its in this heartbreak that I feel myself deciding to double down - not in despair- but in conviction that what is happening today, and has been happening in this country for 245 years is counter to the potential goodness of the human soul.

Today, I would argue and challenge, that even if you feel somehow immune to the subjugation of those around you, that you tick not a single box outside of a safe acceptable life - you too are not safe in this society. The pressure to stay within ‘acceptable' bounds crushes the human soul, crushes creativity, freedom of expression, freedom to practice love openly and with abandon, it crushes THOUGHT.

We are all wonderful weirdos and it is in squeezing ourselves and our bodies into the "acceptable" that we fester and so does the world.

Not a single thing I have to say is new, and I know that someone has said it better (and for longer) and with impeccable grammar, but I offer it up anyway.

We are invited to become artists of loving each other.

I have these words tattooed on my left ribs, a spot that due to chronic pain has been where I have often held myself in tension and frustration and now acts as sort of a mental balm and reminder of how I AIM to act in painful, difficult moments. And definitely often fail. But an artistic pursuit is never perfect and never done and is a whole lot of practice, practice, practice. 

And practice, makes progress. 


Starting today, 15% of sales from my drawing “Power Lines” will be donated to @brigidalliance and NARAL @prochoiceamerica.

The precursor to NARAL, was ARAL - Association to Repeal Abortion Laws - which was founded by my Great Aunt Pat Maginnis, with Rowena Gurner and Lana Phelan (The Army of Three).

Their correspondence with women seeking abortion support and care in the years before Roe were presented by artist Andrea Bowers at MCA Chicago in 2005.  An interview with Bowers about the project can be read here: https://walkerart.org/magazine/andrea-bowers-patricia-maginnis-abortion

Pat passed away this past Fall, just days before SB 8 passed in Texas. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/04/us/patricia-maginnis-dead.html She was loved and is missed.