Friday, September 12, 2008

Earthday 2006

Near the end of March 2006, I received a phone call from my friend Denise. Denise and I first met when I was planning my 2004-05 Art For Earth workshops. She works at a local Conservation Authority preparing outreach environmental programs for local elementary schools and she was delighted to be one of my guest speakers. It had been about six months since we had last spoken when my phone rang.

Denise wanted to know what my plans were for that year’s Earthday. She was surprised when I told her that this was the first Earthday in about seven years when I had made no plans. I was working full time and the remainder of my time was spent preparing for my upcoming trip to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. She asked if I’d like to put together a one-day art class to be taught at the Lower Thames Conservation Authority. The LTCA had organized an Earthday event with many different activities and I would be one of these activities. Of course, I said yes!

Earthday arrived and so did I, with a blank canvas and a lot of paints and brushes. When people arrived at my event station I put them to work. We were creating a painting of the Earth, moon and sun using a pointillism technique.

At the end of the day the painting was completed. Now, I had a small problem… what was I going to do with this painting? I have a history of donating my artworks to community organizations and the next day I was talking with someone from the London Sick Children’s Hospital. Later that afternoon, I arrived to donate this painting to the hospital. It was agreed that this painting would be hung somewhere in the children’s ward to add a bit of bright colour for the children that were receiving medical treatment. I found out that a year later it was used in a fundraising event and that the money went towards some needed care equipment.

I shared this story with Denise and we were both very happy that our small effort was able to contribute towards a significant purpose.

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When each person finished their turn at working on this painting I gave them some of my peace stik-ers and one on my art prints. On the back of the prints I tape photocopies of news articles talking about my adventures in art or a poem I have written.

About three weeks after this event I found a letter in my mailbox. It was from a mother who had brought her daughter to the painting session. This letter put a very big smile on my face.

The mother and daughter had come to the event to learn more about ways they could help protect our environment. They had a great time helping me with my painting. The mother thanked me for the gift of art that I had given to them. She told me that later that evening her daughter had noticed the poem on the back of the print. She shared with me that my poem had brought a tear to her eye. She told me that my poem had given her a deeper understanding of what it means to “be a part of this great mystery” and that her heart was newly awakened to realize that humans have a greater destiny than “slaving ourselves to the corporate giants that are destroying our world”.

This is the poem that was taped to the back of the art print that I had given her:

(Thoughts For The New Millennium)

This world has changed in so many ways
Restructuring continental shifts
Each movement can be measured in days
Rising mountains create musical rifts

The tides of time ebb and flow
Harmonizing universal rapture
Filling the spaces between the flowers that grow
If only my imagination could capture
The heartbeat
The pulse
The vibrations that liberate
Tearing body from mind from mesmerizing state
Then – maybe – I’d know that it is not yet too late
To build a guild
And have the whole world celebrate
A peace-fire

This world is changing
Though we’re feeling quite blasé
For history walks a slow line forward
Never forgetting a single grave
The old, the young
The guilty and the framed
The trees, the rivers and the poison
The fish, the bugs and those who don’t feel the need to explain
About our home
Our Earth
Being a garden mausoleum

Though cycles revolve and species evolve
And life is always as it would
Does this dissolve
Us from trying really hard
To create a peace-fire
Uniting all humanhood
With no more hatred, no more greed
Let’s share with each other and make amends
For when it is time to plant tomorrow’s love seed
We’ll need all to lend their helping hands.

Jim Kogelheide

I use my artwork to share these similar thoughts with the world and it brings a tear to my eye when I realize that someone understands me.


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