Thursday, July 23, 2020

Art & Soul

Art & Soul
by Mary Annette Walchuk

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” 
--Pablo Picasso 

I don’t know about you, but my soul has certainly felt dusty lately! Daily life in the time of the coronavirus is difficult, uncertain, and so often overwhelming. Most days I am worn out just trying to focus enough to get through the workday. But then—at the end of the day—I turn to art to take me away from my worries and refresh my soul. 

The world of art is fairly new to me. Three years ago, I walked into the Waseca Art Center to see a friend’s show of paintings. While there, I was asked by Rachel, the director at that time, if I was an artist. Surprised by the thought, I laughed and said no. After some encouragement from my husband, I said, “Okay. I’m a photographer”—not an easy thing for me to say out loud even though I have been taking photographs for many years. That encounter led to an invitation to hold my first-ever art show—an exhibit of photographs at the Waseca Art Center, funded by a grant from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council and the McKnight Foundation. 

The exhibit was titled “Walking My Shadows”—a reference to the shadows that follow me daily, depression and anxiety. I had found that taking walks and capturing the beauty of nature with photographs helped keep my shadows from taking over my life. When I shared the photos on social media, friends told me the photos also helped them. Holding the exhibit was the next step in sharing.

As I was preparing for the show, my life took an unexpected turn. In addition to enjoying the art of photography, I also discovered the joy of drawing with colored pencils. Something about the feel of the pencil in my hand and the physical act of putting color on paper took me into a world where I was totally unaware of my companion shadows for a while. The more I drew, the more I was free from the feelings of depression and anxiety. I realized what a gift this is and since then I have allowed myself to draw often—every day, if possible. If I feel the shadows approaching, I know to grab a pencil and paper and allow them to shoo the shadows into the background. I am learning to listen to my mind and my body. I am now off of my antianxiety medication and my antidepressants and I no longer see my therapist. Although I know there may be times when I might need these again, art is what is keeping me mentally healthy even during this difficult period of coronavirus.

As the seriousness of this pandemic became more and more apparent, I had trouble doing anything, even drawing. I had no energy—no inspiration, but I knew I had to use art to get through this. So I picked up a pencil and drew—and drew and drew and drew. Because I felt so discombobulated, I ended up with six drawings in progress at the same time, each requiring a different level of concentration to fit my current mood. And I am continuing to draw and paint and take photographs. I am creating joyful drawings that focus on what is good and positive in my world, I am creating coronavirus drawings and paintings that represent my feelings during the pandemic, and I am taking photographs of the amazing nature around me and sharing them on social media to counterbalance the increasing negativity with something positive and beautiful.

And now, because Andrew encouraged me to continue to share my art, I am preparing for another show at the Waseca Art Center. “Then Sings My Soul” will be a celebration of so many things that bring me joy—nature, music, art, color. The show was scheduled for this August, but because of the pandemic, it is uncertain when it will happen. But I continue to draw, knowing that eventually I will be able to show my art in the Great Hall Gallery. And knowing in these uncertain times the certainty that creating art will wash the dust of daily life off my soul so it can continue to sing!           //

Mary was scheduled to exhibit in August at the Waseca Art Center - we will update you when her show will be available - WAC
#WAC #wasecaartcenter #mywaseca #ruralart #art

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