Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Art? It’s the magic of the mundane

Jenny Hazard and I met when she participated in a dialogue about "Five Tips for Creative Independence: Don't sell your soul to the company store."

Jenny is a trained Advocate and Counselor with 20 years experience working with Youth and Families. Most recently she's worked with Domestic and Sexual Violence Counseling and support. Jenny says that as a survivor of violence she's been "on both sides of the service desk, which provides for a unique, and often conflicting, theoretical orientation" Jenny blogs at Nanakoosa's Place. You can also find her at White Wave Consulting.

Jenny is a journal keeper and story teller. Her current focus is to give voice to the experiences of survivors, to shine some light in the dark corners of family life where all the spiders and creepy things hide. She also enjoys writing about her unconventional childhood in the tumultuous 60's. Jenny says, "I have three wonderful children, two fabulous granddaughters and an assortment of pets."

Here's our conversation. Do you have a place like Jenny's that makes you feel safe to explore?

JGR: Jenny, tell us about Nanakoosa's Place.

JH: It’s kind of funny; I’d been searching for a pen name that sounded ethnically ambiguous. The name just popped into my head and I liked it. I searched online for meanings and found nothing. By the time I’d adopted the name I realized there’s a Japanese restaurant in town named Nanakusa, which refers to a salad of spring greens.

JGR: Spring greens! I like that. You've said that Living your Art--Being an Artist--a Creator, does indeed develop from certain world view. How would you describe that for yourself?

JH: I think that my parents instilled the ability to see the world through interchangeable lenses; it’s the ability to see the big picture and the little picture simultaneously.

That's how the eye of an artist sees the world. Sometimes its potential is in materials or fabrics. Sometimes it’s seeing the perfect photograph, the way lights and colors interplay. It involves being an active participant in one’s environment, to have a sense of mindfulness. Even the ugly and painful images life gives us provide an opportunity to see and convey a message

JGR: Tell us more about "the magic of the mundane." Why do you think we have this as children and then lose it later in life?

JH: I love watching children play. They can entertain themselves for hours, boxes become houses, leaves become boats, a plain little pebble is a famous jewel. They have the ability to transform common items into whatever is within the power of their imagination.

I have an animistic world view. I believe there is magic in everything. There is life force and a spirit or at least a type of energy that inhabits everything. You just have to be attuned to that.

Children get that but they are usually discouraged by parents and teachers, which makes them feel it is somehow “wrong”. Once they get the notion in their minds that their experiences are wrong or crazy, and repress them their innate ability to connect with the magic begins to fade away.

JGR: Can you tell us a story about art (and life!) as a process?

JH: With writing I have been able to not only witness my own evolution, bur the writing itself. Subsequent reviewing and re-reading has illuminated areas of my own personal power. I truly believe these are places that I may not have previously been able to access. The exciting thing is that this is a lifelong process. It provides a space for us to continue understand and create ourselves and hopefully our communities as well.

JGR: Why is imitation futile?

JH: I think we risk sacrificing or neglecting our own authentic expression which is what art is all about after all. Plus, we cannot know what vision the original artist was relating. We may be able to capture their style, mechanically, but never the soul of the work.

JGR: Your brother works in film production, and recently became interested in drawing. He's been taking classes and doing lots of drawing on his own at home. Tell us what his quote means to you. "There are no good artists or bad artists, we all are unique artists"

JH: This quote was very liberating for me and for him as well. We both tend to suffer from perfectionism and self criticism, which often manifests in the no win situation of comparison. When we are free of the need to compare to others, we can appreciate both their work and ours for what it is, a unique creature born of a unique personality.

JGR: How has art helped you and other survivors of sexual and domestic violence heal?

JH: Art is a safe way to give a face or a voice to the often enigmatic feelings Survivors carry around for years. It works on different levels. At the most basic it is releasing all that which has been held inside once you open those doors it’s like “stand back, the s@#t is gonna fly!” After than initial release, which may take years, art helps us to synthesize concepts into digestible material. How often how often do you hear someone say "I know I deserve better, but I can’t make myself believe it." Processing those concepts through art really helps many of internalize those beliefs and make them our own. I could write an entire book on this. (I may very well do it)

JGR: I hope you do! Art has been a spiritual experience in your life?

JH: Yes, defiantly. I think that quite often we struggle to access our “higher selves” and art can transmit that part of us that is connected with the “bigger picture” to communicate to us. I see this is some musicians; they become almost entranced while making their music. It's as if they are channeling a higher power, which they most likely are.

JGR: What is "word doodling"? Tell us about the experience of finding something come out of that process that "needed to be born".

JH: I made that phrase up to try to describe to someone else this little therapeutic exercise I do. It's basically stream of consciousness writing, spilling whatever words seem to be popping in my head at the moment. The doodling part comes from the way I like to arrange the words on the paper. Sometimes they are in flowing shapes, and sometimes connected by common letters of syllables. It’s quite fun! Often it doesn’t make sense until I look at it later and notice a preponderance of certain ideas, or a connection or disconnection between words

JGR: Thanks for sharing your life and art with the Riehlife Village today.

Jenny: Thank You for including me in your community!

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2 Responses »

  1. Janet - what a wonderful interview! Jenny has a wealth of experience and knowledge to bring to her writing life and I enjoyed reading it here at Riehlife. And I love "word doodling". Great inspiration!

    Thanks for bringing Jenny here!

  2. Thank you, Selena.

    It's been a joy to meet both you and Jenny. It's been lovely to feature you both on Riehlife. I'm glad you found the Creative Catalyst post on Telling Her Stories and commented so generously there. --Janet

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