These are some of the photos (taken by Rodrigo Venezuela) from the Mater Matrix Mother and Medium performance at Seattle last month, in May 2012. It was a pretty amazing integration of pre-recorded harp and voice with live music performance on top of that; costumes by Mandy Greer; choreography by Jessica Jobaris.
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My brain is a buzz. I’m working on the score for Mandy Greer’s third and most current installation of Mater Matrix Mother and Medium titled”Saltus Chori Aevum” less than two weeks away. For sources of musical inspiration I’ve been heavy into M. Ward, Pink Floyd, Rachels and My Brightest Diamond. My main poet muse is currently Pablo Neruda, particularly The Sea and The Bells.
Mandy Greer has created a community-based, crocheted artwork Mater Matrix Mother and Medium for a site-specific project at Seattle Center’s DuPen Fountain and Alki Courtyard. The 250-foot fiber artwork will be crocheted in a full spectrum of blues on the topography of the site and attached to trees, creating a “river” that sits seven to 15 feet off the ground.
I am so lucky and happy to be collaborating with these amazing artists! Choreographer/dancer Jessica Jobaris; performance artist/vocalist Saskia Delores, dancer Andrea Ives and video artist Rodrigo Valenzuela. My creative process has had me wearing several hats: musical arranger; harpist; poet; songwriter; vocalist and soon to be performer.
Focusing on the mystical and mundane properties of water, we will premier a multi-media performance at the artwork, 7 p.m., May 5 and 6. The 45-minute performance, beginning just before dusk, will be a luminous exploration of the three states of water - liquid, ice, vapor. This event is in conjunction with the Next 50 celebration of the 1962 Worlds Fair anniversary at Seattle Center.
Here’s one of the etudes I recorded based around the concept of water.
The sun is filled with ice and gives no warmth at all
The sky was never blue
The stars are raindrops searching for a place to fall
And I never cared for you
These lyrics of Willie Nelson’s get stuck in my head today. For a while, I’m in the auto-pilot windmills of my mind, thinking about a man who used to be in my life. He would demoralize my emotional ways, make me feel guilty for having them at all, which ultimately made me feel small and not at all like a powerful woman who uses her emotions for action. To him, emotions were not intellectual enough because they weren’t cerebral. Hence, emotions were inferior to thoughts of the mind. To him, they got in the way.
Women are often accused of such insults. I even hear pundits and guests telling journalists on NPR that they can’t think emotionally on certain subject matters (like politics), as in, that sort of reaction is not allowed. We shouldn’t make room for our emotions to help us think and act. They get in the way of the work day, of progress.
To that I say: “What on Earth are you talking about? Yes, I have feelings. And Yes, I respond to them. Why wouldn’t I?”
I do know why some people don’t. It might make make them feel morally conscious. I think that’s exactly why the United States is in the financial quagmire that its in. Not a single person on the Wall Street stock exchange or in the Senate or in the White House was thinking with his gut. And I am not being politically incorrect with my pronoun here.
What the world needs now are more women in power. Not just women who put on the man suit and do their political speak and cozy up to the corporate giants. Hillary Clinton is playing that game right now because she wants to be Secretary of State - its rather indicative of the current Administration and Senate.
But just think: What if there were women in power who actually acted on behalf of the other women in the world!
What I’m talking about are leaders who advocate for childcare options in the workplace, because they need them too. Women who advocate for maternity leave because they need it too. Women who respond emotionally to situations and speak up. Women leaders who dress like women and don’t get sunk into the sea of suits and ties, making them to feel small in their shoes and like they have to feel and act like men do. I mean - and this is key - women at the bargaining table who speak up for the other women who can’t be there (because they’re out working to put food on the table or at home nurturing their families). Overtime.
I mean to call upon some of the women I admire out there: Winona LaDuke and Louise Erdrich, Oprah Whinfrey, Nina Simone and Mother Jones. Sharon Olds and Erica Jong. The Suffragettes and the Rosie the Riveters (my grandmother Monica and great-aunt Dorothy included in this bunch). Harriet Tubman. Maya Angelou. Susan B. Anthony. These women speak and spoke up for women and minorities everywhere and of all times.
I would agree with those who say women tend to be more emotional than men. But so what? Isn’t that one of the things that sets us apart from one another and make us distinctly human? It takes a balance of all people in this world to make it a healthy happy place, and right now our world is out of balance and in many ways not so happy.
We live at a turning point of human history, whether we all know it or not. Everything is changing faster than we can get used to it, which is cause for much strain. If we all turned on our emotions more, I think there would be more outrage in the world about misuse of Earth’s resources, exploitation of workers and the mistreatment we do to one another.
Outrage doesn’t directly translate to anger. (Anger happens with ineffective and/or unwillingness to communicate.) Outrage is defined as an act that violates accepted standards of behavior. People protesting peacefully can be an act of outrage, as can be putting your money and your vote where your mouth is.
When a truth is being misconstrued, our emotions can help us take note of that. Using our emotions can help us get to truth. So when we see and read of things that just don’t sit right with us, that’s that’s our emotions telling us to get involved in what’s happening around us.
* * * * *
I feel Spring in the air today as I walk around the north side of Lake Union. As I move up hill, the wind lifts my heart to speak for what I believe is good that dwells there - that dwells in all of us.
I think of one of my favorite poems, The Waking, by Theodore Roethke.
“We think by feeling…” Those words have gotten me out of many uncertain times and encouraged me to use my gut, my instincts, my intuition.
“What is there to know?” This doesn’t mean to act blindly. Its a humbling reminder that we just don’t know anything for certain. There are so many people in power right now, either in big business or government (or rallying to get in power) who are so emphatic about their truth being THEE truth. There are other people who are fundamental zealots, who dominate those around them with rules, and get them to feel small, thereby snuffing out that other person’s inner emotional voice.
The only truth is that none of us know the truth for any other than our own self.
What there is to know is to listen from within. Listen to your intuition. It is your voice. It is the little angel (and little devil too!) balanced on your shoulder. That’s your intuition knocking at your heart’ s door wanting to come in for a cup of tea. Answer it. Let it. Listen. That voice is you. Don’t let anyone else club it into submission. If you want, call it God.
Either way, I plan on listening to my intuitive voice and emotions extra closely this Spring. Like a flock of robins, first there will be one, then a whole choir. When we all sing with our truest of voices, then the world can rise up and sing a masterpiece.
To quote a man beloved by the world, “Some say I’m a dreamer. Well, I’m not the only one.”
I am gifted 3 hours of solo time to work today. While this may not sound like much, it is golden to a new mother! Stephen took Zephyr to Urban Craft Uprising and I worked on a new song idea. While doing so, I’m reminded of a poem dear to my heart by Marge Piercy, To Be of Use.
To be of use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
For a few years now I’ve thought about setting up an Etsy shop to sell music, poetry, knits and other crafts. I coerced my husband Stephen to join me with his fine art and illustrations and thus, Broccoli Umbrella is born!
I’ve got my inaugural item, Mood Indigo Triptych, listed for $7. The three pieces - poem, CD, and tea - are all hand assembled, including all of the tea bags, by your truly.
“Tape” recorded live in September 2011
Well, I know there’s only 30 days in April and that National Poetry Month is technically over, but I’m still working on my NaPoWriMo prompted poems. Why? Because I have a 5 month old baby girl who manages to take over every waking moment I have! So, I’m filing for a NaPoWriMo extension. I’ve made a personal vow to finish all of the prompts, though with my own time line. Only 6 more to go!
trilogy of care:
feeding, sleeping, diapering
four month Zephyr babe
After a long time of thinking about starting a blog, I am finally doing so while on my maternity leave with my little daughter Zephyr. That said, any new mother reading this knows that I am not getting out much, nor am I getting much practice time in. I think I’ll just use this time to revisit some of the work I’ve done in the past until I get rolling again… I expect to return to performing this Spring/Summer. Until then…