This art is part of the 51-artist exhibit, HeART of the Matter, on display at Franklin Crossing in Bend Oregon, February 2-26, 2017. Opening on Feb. 3.
by Lynn “crYcket” Woodward (age 53), Autumn Woodward (age 33) and their dad Doug Woodward (age 80)
Our family was shocked — distraught — by the presidential election results, especially my four younger siblings who are born activists. On November 9, our dad emailed us a letter of encouragement, reflecting on what he’s seen in his 80 years, reminding us that events move forward and backward — and to continue on paths that our hearts lead us. That we can continue to make a positive difference in this world.
Lynn, of Sisters, OR, suggested to Autumn, who lives in Asheville, NC, that we create art that reflects the dark feelings, mail them to each other, and the other transform the image into light. No rules, no pressure for masterpieces, just expression and healing.
A few of the personal elements:
Cane toads were introduced to Australia to control the cane beetle, a pest to sugar cane crops. They reproduce in astounding numbers and toxins in their skin poison many native species — but some people dry the skins and smoke them to get high. No solution to this large ecological mistake has been yet found. Lynn sees parallels between this toad and another, although not all will.
Autumn imagines the toadman as someone born into a world of greed and ugliness, never having experienced real love, and thus reaching for great swaths of power and destruction. She wondered if kindness could transform the toad into a noble prince — accessing the spirit or good that is in every person. She gave the toad a heart, and presented a vision of children putting makeup and paint on him playfully. While making the book, Lynn united the gap between red and blue with purple threads.
Interestingly, both Autumn and Lynn, unbeknownst to each other, used the ocean as a metaphor.
Autumn’s ocean contains monsters and chaos; expressing the fear of going deep — but as she drew the monsters, they turned out to be on our side, like Tibetan protectors to ward off demons. The well-swaddled baby on the surface is a part of her that yearns to have children and yet hesitates as she watches some of the pain in the world.
Lynn surrounded the baby with Father Sun and Mother Earth, with all the implications of remembering the power and lessons of what is so much larger and more eternal than we.
On the next page, Lynn expressed her outer landscape — true north upside-down and phrases on a found sheet of paper strangely isolated in chaos and complexity. To heal this image herself, she planted a seed and made a prayer flag from a decaying silk scarf she’s had since she was a teen.
Autumn sent a life-preserver in the form a dolphin — remember there is help that is aware of us even if we can’t see it. And a firebird — our imagination will bring us solutions we could not have foreseen.
The last pages hold Dad’s letter and an encouraging quote about a mosquito from the Dalai Lama, printed in letterpress by Lynn.
The book closes with a rope of Lynn’s hair. While working with the hair, a chill came over her — a breath from a time when human hair and skin were collected from exterminated peoples. A time of great fear and hate. This lock of graying hair, wrapped to a button with a Mayan face, is meant to weave the wisdom of our elders into our hearts so that we may learn from our past and grow more connected.
Here is a copy of the letter that Dad wrote to us kids:
Dear Canyon, Rivers, Forest, Autumn, David and crYcket,
I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you after Tuesday’s shocking surprise. It’s easy to feel that all you have worked on for the good of humanity and our planet has just been flushed down the toilet — that our future, and particularly your future, has been traded for a fistful of dollars. That there is no visible path to a better world as environmental protections, women’s rights, and safeguards against discrimination fall and crash all around us.
No, I don’t know the answers right at this moment. But I have seen this happen before. John F. Kennedy’s assassination interrupted a bright and promising path that our country was taking at that time, but his legacy (Peace Corps, space program, etc) lived on. Jimmy Carter established forward-thinking at a national level on both energy and the environment.
James Watt, Reagan’s secretary of the interior, came out with a national mandate to use up all of our natural resources before Jesus returned — and found us lax. Reagan tore the solar panels off the White House, but he couldn’t stop the momentum of Carter’s programs — and Carter continued on with his Habitat For Humanity and as a world ambassador of goodwill after he left office. And before he left office, he signed the Alaska Lands Act into law — a tremendous accomplishment which still stands. And crYcket and Dave, you were a part of that.
All of you have been conscious of the importance of social justice and environmental action long before the age at which I became aware of them. I am in awe of what you have already accomplished. You — and many of your friends — have made a difference even at this point in your lives. Don’t despair. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Continue to give yourselves to the path that you know is right. We can’t see around the dark corner in front of us, but the opportunities for action will appear. Seize them!
I love you all so much, Dad