A collaboration with special guest star T.J. Piccolo; Columbia, TN, November 2016.

fullsizeoutput_1247{Cardboard, paper bag, colored pencils, book pages, film, aluminum foil, glass.}

Have you ever played that game where you go around the circle and each person adds the next word or sentence to a story? (Looking at you, camp people.) That’s how this one started. As the resident trash crafter, I began by explaining my process very eloquently and concisely. “Um, well, I don’t know, I usually just stare at the pile of stuff until something sticks out, then go from there.”

T.J. grabbed my old thesaurus and happened to land on “inactivity,” then followed the trail to “inaction” and “neglect.” An accidental rip or two turned into fitting fractures on the pages.

I crumpled up a paper bag and scrawled a colored pencil background onto the wrinkled surface, sticking it to our cardboard canvas before we arranged the words.

He grabbed a film strip from my pile of random things, lest the media be neglected for the part they’ve played in all this turmoil.

We added a tin foil frame because, well, the imagined plans we had for our country have been…foiled. (Who says there can’t be a place for puns even in tricky times?)

We didn’t set out to create a commentary on the current political climate. But a mere two days after Election Day, my mind was (is?) still on broken things. (Also I bought this colorful broken glass a while ago and have only gotten to use it a couple times.) I picked up a few pieces and we arranged them around our frame.

This is not how I imagined the election going. This is not how I imagined so many people acting. Visually, literally, this is darker than a lot of things I make. My instinct as we went along was to add more color, more light. But there’s something to be said for staying in this space for a minute.

Recently a friend on Facebook shared this article. In it, Toni Morrison quotes a friend who once told her:

This is precisely the time when artists go to work—not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!”

She goes on to conclude:

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”

Real talk: I have felt lots of things over this last week. Hope followed by disbelief. Naïveté induced by the utter shock I felt as I learned that so many people would vote for someone so quick to discredit such huge swaths of humanity. Relief followed by guilt as I quietly thought to myself “well, at least the only thing I have going against me is that I’m a woman.” Anger toward a society and political climate that would lead me to consider being a woman something negative in the first place. Fear for others — friends, loved ones — who face far more discrimination than I. Determination settled deep in my bones, to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with people on all sides of the ballot as we walk into what feels like uncharted territory. Knowledge that being able to inch toward that determination so quickly reflects my deeply rooted privilege.

In the midst of all that? The urge to create, bubbling up inside of me even under the weight of everything else. Uncertainty about what to say. But still the urge to process and respond in whatever small way I know how, until the way be clear to bigger things. “The world is bruised and bleeding,” Ms. Morrison says. There is so much work to do. But before we get there we might have to spend a little more time where we are — broken glass, ripped pages, sharp edges and all. The world is bruised and bleeding. But we’re still here.