Tag Archives: art

More Than Words

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe

I was just recently given an awesome opportunity to be a part of an art exhibit.  Yep, you heard that right.  An art exhibit.  Me…the girl who can’t even draw stick figures…in an ART exhibit!  How do ya like them apples?!

Okay, so there was a bit of a catch. I wasn’t allowed to draw. Or paint. Or color. Or create stick figures. They just wanted my words.

Words. In an art exhibit!

When I first heard about this idea, I was a little confused. Um…you want my words in your art exhibit? Come again? But once I started getting into and realizing what this whole thing was about, I was blown away by the idea.

So, here’s how it worked.  Our local Ashe County Arts Council paired up local writers with local artists. (What their criteria was in this selection process is beyond me, but somehow they managed to pair me with exactly the right person. I know that without a doubt.  My artist partner Gerry and I clicked from the get-go.)  Once our pairs were determined, we were given a “project.”  I was to give Gerry something I had written, and she was to give me something she had painted.  She was to use the writing I had given her to inspire a new work of art.  And I, in turn, was to use her painting to inspire a new written work of art.

Pretty cool, huh?

And then, as part of an exhibit that opened up on September 10, each artist/writer pair’s work was hung in the art gallery together – side-by-side with the piece of art that inspired their creation.  The official reception for the artists and writers and anyone who wanted to view their works was on the night of Friday, September 12. Gerry and I found each other and, while standing near our display, found ourselves overcome with the emotional responses our work brought about.

Now, I can’t speak for Gerry, but as a writer – this was pretty new to me.  I’m not used to “watching” people read my work.  You know?  I write it – I send it out in the world – and then I just hope it touches someone somewhere who may have needed to hear it. I may get feedback sometimes, but it’s rare that I get to actually see their responses.  This night, though?  Oh, this night was so different.

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Photo by Chris Arvidson

This picture here to the right is a photo that my dear friend and fellow writer Chris Arvidson took that night.  I would have remembered this moment forever even without the photographic evidence, but I can’t believe that she was so eloquently able to capture it at just the right time.  This woman, among others, was actually moved to tears after reading what I had written and seeing Gerry’s painting that accompanied it.  The photo captured her turning back to us to tell us how much it had meant to her.

Wow.

Isn’t that the coolest?

This is why I do what I do, people. This is why musicians make music. Why singers sing. Why painters paint. Why actors act.  We do these things for this moment right here.  To know that for just one moment in time, two human beings became one in their emotions. Someone out there looked at what we created and said, “Yes.”  That’s it.  Just yes. Yes, I have felt that.  Yes, I know that feeling.  Yes, I know you.  Thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’m telling you people, there’s nothing like it.

morethanwords2So, if you’re local, do yourself a favor.  Go by and check out this exhibit.  It will be on display through October 4th at the Ashe Arts Center, located at 303 School Avenue, West Jefferson, North Carolina. Gerry and I are just one of many pairs that have contributed to this, and each story, poem, painting, and piece of artwork tells a story that you need to hear.  Come by and have your emotions reawakened.  After all, that’s the beauty of art in all its forms, isn’t it?

(And by the way, you’ll definitely want to see what Gerry created from my poem Escape.  A photo just wouldn’t do it justice. You’re going to want to see this one in person.)

And now, in closing, I’ll leave you with the poem Gerry’s market painting inspired me to write.  It’s entitled “Market Visitor.”

Thanks for being here, my fellow humans!  Stop to notice something special today, won’t you?

Market Visitor

What’s that I see coming near?
She must be lost. Why’s she here?
She stops to stare—is it at me?
Oh how I wonder what she sees.

What’s that she’s taking—a photograph?
She wants my picture? What a laugh!
Surely there must be some mistake,
What image is here for her to take?

“Hello there, old girl,” she says with glee,
“Oh, what a sight you are to see.
The forgotten beauty of a long-lost saint—
Ah, what a joy you’ll be to paint.”

An artist? With an interest in me?
Underneath all this ruin, could she see?
The people I’ve seen come and go,
The life I’ve lived—how does she know?

Does she see beyond the tattered boards,
The broken windows, rotting doors?
As she gazes at outer walls worn thin,
Does she know of all the life within?

Can she hear the laughter of children at play,
Hear the hustle and bustle from back in the day?
Does she see the past once filled with life
The fun-filled days, the peaceful nights?

The pleasantries once exchanged within
The constant motion, ceaseless din—
Are now only memories in this silent shrine
Slowly fading away with the passage of time.

And yet with one visit, something feels refreshed
I pull myself together, try to look my very best
For the story behind these shadows might finally be seen
All because one artist took the time to stop and notice me.

– Melissa Halsey Caudill, 2014

Slippery Muse

“I feel like I am allowed to share with the world what I see.”
– Joel Robison, photographer

A while back, I saw the above quote when I was reading an article about Joel Robison, a photographer whose career had taken off practically overnight because of his photos that were noticed and purchased by the Coca-Cola company. While I’m not a photographer, that quote spoken by Joel with regard to his new booming career struck a chord with me. I knew exactly what he meant.  That’s how I feel about my writing – that beautiful feeling of seeing something and knowing that there is a story in it.  And then having the freedom and means to share that story with others.  I was excited to see someone put so simply into words exactly what I feel so often.  So, I quickly copied and pasted the quote into a new blog entry and saved it to my drafts to write about later.

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“Stuck Inside” by Joel Robison

And there it sat.

And sat.

*sigh*

And sat some more.

The quote was phenomenal and I knew I wanted to expand on it and blog about it, but I’ve just been kind of stuck.  Not only stuck on knowing what to write about regarding this particular quote, but just stuck in general.  I briefly mentioned my case of writer’s block in my last blog, but I sort of blamed it on how busy I’ve been lately.  (Which, mind you, I’m not saying doesn’t play a big role in it.)  But honestly, I don’t think that’s the only thing.  Once in a while, I just can’t quite grab on to that muse, you know?  I know she’s there.  She’s always there.  She sits there waiting patiently for me…whistling, twiddling her thumbs, trying not to be a nuisance.  But yet, for some unknown reason, my hands just can’t get the grip I need on that slippery little booger.  I try to reach for her, even think I’ve got a good hold every now and then, but lo and behold, she manages to slither right out of my hands. Oh, it’s not her fault. She hasn’t done anything wrong – hasn’t changed.

It’s me who can’t get a grip.

Well, a few weeks ago, I was honored to be a speaker at a local event called Night of the Spoken Word.  Eleven local writers were introduced individually and asked to read a 5-minute portion of one of their works. While I was excited to participate, I was also looking forward to the inspiration that I knew the night would bring.  For a writer stuck in a rut, there would be nothing better than to be surrounded by fellow writers – hearing their magical words flow through the room and feel them seep into my soul. I just knew this would be what would jumpstart my writing and get me back on track.

Well, guess what?  It didn’t.

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“Bookworm” by Joel Robison

Oh, I was inspired of course. I was in awe and full of admiration at all the talent that surrounded me, and beyond honored to be included among them.  But I got home and sat down at the computer and still…

Nothing.

Well, except maybe this one thing.

Something I had heard that night kept playing over and over in my mind. A fellow writer got up to read a poem he had written about a trip that he and his daughter had taken together when she was younger. As he gave the introduction to his poem – describing why he had written what he had – he said he had just had such a wonderful time with his daughter on the trip that when he got home, he sat down with pen and paper to write about it.  Specifically, the phrase he used was this:

I wanted to remember what that felt like.”
– Scot Pope

If it wouldn’t have been massively rude to whip out my cell phone during his reading, I would have done just that.  I would have went to my “notes” app on my phone and typed in what he said to remind me to go back and read it again later. (Oh, how many blogs I have written based on short, practically unintelligible “notes” from my phone…).  But, as luck would have it, I didn’t need to be rude and type it into my phone after all. I remembered it. I remembered it as I was leaving, I remembered it when I got home, and here I was remembering it almost two weeks later. I didn’t know why that meant so much to me, but it just wouldn’t leave my mind.

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“Short Stories” by Joel Robinson

And then, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, one day it hit me.

Inspiration.

I hurried to my blog site and dug out that dusty old draft with the Joel Robison quote in it.  Looking at his quote, and comparing it with Scot Pope’s quote, I realized why I write. And realizing it made me appreciate it.  And appreciating it made me want to do it again. I hope these two remarkable, talented men won’t mind my combining their quotes by saying that writing, for me, is not only a way to remember what I felt when I saw something in this big, awesome world, but to also be able to tell people about it.  I feel something, and I no longer have to hold it inside.  I pour it out onto the computer screen, hit that little “publish” button, and suddenly, I’ve shared a piece of myself with you.  I’ve invited you into my memories.  Into my life lessons.

Into my heart.

Writing is who I am.  It just is.  When it’s missing, a piece of me is missing. And sometimes that does happen…sometimes I lose touch temporarily with who I am.  (As I’m sure we all are prone to do.)  But then, inevitably, Inspiration comes slipping in that door I left ajar yet again.  And quietly, without any noise or fanfare to speak of, she plants her little seed once more- whether through the eloquent words of a fellow writer, the majestic beauty of a talented photographer, or the kind words from a blog reader who lets me know that my words meant something to them – and I once again find myself back on the path towards home.

In closing, and as a thank you to each and every one of you, my vast array of seed-planters, I’d like to once again quote Joel Robison:

“So with that, I’d like to thank YOU for being a part of this big and small world. For looking at, enjoying, commenting and appreciating my work and what I do and for helping me find the path that I’ve found.”
– Joel Robison

Thank you all for your part in helping me to reach out and grasp that elusive muse with both hands, and hold her tight to me where she belongs. Thank you for helping me to find my way back to where I belong.  Thank you for helping me to remember who I am.

Ahhh.

All is well.

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“Wordly Balance” by Joel Robison