a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
In mid-March, I facilitated a workshop at Metro Opportunity High School in Fort Worth, Texas. Metro Opportunity is an alternative high school where, on any given day, the student body might range from 15 to 60. I had asked my colleague and friend, Jo Dufo—who is the art teacher at Metro Opportunity—if I might be able to present a short program on rewilding and then personally invite the students to submit original creative work to this theme.
Of course, Ms. Dufo was very enthusiastic about this idea and on the day of the presentation, there were about fifteen students ready to connect with me—sharing personal stories, hiphop poetry, and some of their previously-created art work.
When it was my turn to show, I performed a few of my spoken word pieces and then presented a slideshow about Black Earth Institute, About Place Journal, and rewilding.
I engaged the students in conversation about the lyrics to “America the Beautiful” and revealed to them that I only began to understand the meaning of “amber waves of grain” just last summer on a windy Texas afternoon. They revealed to me that “purple mountain majesties” “fruited plain” and “sea” were mostly abstract unknowns to them. However, when I asked them to consider a meaningful place from childhood, their recollections instantly took them to outdoor places (“a quiet hill with a great view,” for example) in nature.
When I showed the students a slide image of a dandelion pushing up through a concrete sidewalk, I invited them to consider their answer to this: What is the concrete poured over you that wants to hamper or hinder your growth? Their responses: stress, rules, depression, judgment.
Lastly, I asked the students to share a word to describe how they felt in their meaningful place from childhood. Their words: “Open” “Heaven” “Alive”.
Three students submitted new artwork and statements in response to the workshop. Many thanks to muralist, community activist, and art educator Jo Dufo for helping to facilitate my connection with her brilliant students.
This painting of the lake is similar to the lake I had went to with my little cousins In Mexico. One of my most memorable memories I had to connecting with Mother Nature is this trip I’m about to tell you about so sit tight and enjoy. It was a sunny day, birds chirping wind blowing a nice cold wind suns out flowers blossoming out, my cousins had been telling me they knew were a nice lake was and on nice beautiful day the lake would make you think about nature, and well it did sitting on the nice green grass looking out to the lake thinking, WOW before humans came and tore down trees, bushes, tore out beautiful flowers for their own benefits and so on, the world was breathtaking seeing what it was before makes you think how much longer do we still have these breathtaking places before somebody comes and takes it away? Seeing what the world was once before made me realized. We only have one world and we only got one shot at this world.
One day when I was walking along the street, I noticed that all of the people, that I saw, were different. It reminded me of a bouquet of flowers, clustered together, but everyone unique in their own way. Different shapes, colors, and sizes, like different flowers, roses, dahlias, zinnias. It’s like when people’s lives are together, they create a variety of amazingness, all over the world.
I can relate to this painting, because I feel like a unique flower in an ordinary environment with ordinary objects surrounded by regular things. The flower can only relate to the ordinary objects so little because they aren’t as unique as the flower. In the end the flower still needs the ordinary or regular objects to complete the picture, so really without each other neither would reach their full potential, to be as truly great as they are.