Ostara 2024: A Taste Of The Coven: VISUAL ART

"artistic expression is one of the most powerful tools we have" Paul Rucker

Amy Torok
Mar 19, 2024
56 min read
Members of the Missing Witches Coven show off their art, based on the prompt: What does it FEEL like to be a Witch?

For the first day of Spring, we invite you to listen in on a meeting of the Missing Witches Coven, and maybe make some art!!

Thanks to Marissa for drawing our attention to this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
"Those who target us know, just like we do, that artistic expression is one of the most powerful tools we have to uplift marginalized voices, change minds, and influence policies."
  • Paul Rucker from Art Is Power: 20 Artists On How They Fight for Justice and Inspire Change
"The artist must be clairvoyant: he must see that which others do not see; he must be a magician..."
  • P.D. Ouspensky from The Art Of The Occult: A Visual Sourcebook for the Modern Mystic (ed. S. Elizabeth)

This special episode of the Missing Witches Podcast comes to you from our Coven circle. The theme of this meeting was VISUAL ART!

How does art-making figure into your practice of the Craft?  Do you make wreaths like Bri, or trap spirits in gelatin like Jess?  Do you draw? Paint? Knit? Decorate cookies?  Do you love the undo option of digital art or a no-turning-back splash of red paint across a canvas? What role does making art or loving art play in our activism, our mental health, our identity or our humanity? 

What visual artists have inspired you? Changed your worldview? Had a hand in the cultivation of you identity?

Keep in mind, the oldest evidence of human made art is at least forty five thousand years old - delightfully, it's a painting of pigs!!  Humans have been doing art since before we started agriculture - making art exists in the deepest part of our DNA - even if we're "just" painting piggies.

This recording has been edited for time.

Amy did two painting to illustrate the mental/emotional difference between painting abstractly vs representationaly

Check out what the Missing Witches Coven produced during the meeting and/or in response to the prompt: What does it feel like to be a Witch?

What does it feel like to be a witch? By Rachel
Marni’s Secret Garden by Rachel

Painting by Jess

Jess's short film that we mentioned

What does it feel like to be a witch? By Melissa

Marissa worked on her granny skull pillow
Darleen's artistic response to the prompt What does it feel like to be a witch?
Erin's artistic response to the prompt What does it feel like to be a witch?


If you want to support the Missing Witches project, join the coven! Find out how at missingwitches. com. You aren't being a proper woman, therefore you must be a witch. 

You must be a witch. Happy Ostara, listeners! Happy Spring Equinox, Risa! Thanks, Amy! Hi, Coven! Oh, man, I'm so excited for you guys to listen to this episode, this, like, collective act of creation and adoration and, I don't know, incantation of art and love. Yeah, we thought we'd start our springtime. Oh, the first day of spring. 

Um, I just got a little, a little weepy inside thinking about it. It's been a kind of a mild winter, but also like a very existentially cold, long winter, like the weather. Hasn't been so bad here, um, but the weather in the world has been so, you know, there's the thing about spring being like the season, but also the word that we use for like a manif or a revolution, you know, there was like the Arab spring and the maple spring in, in Canada. 

And so this is kind of like an extraordinarily hopeful time for me anyway, where The ice melts, and we remember what flowers look like. And they're just, their little, tiny, bloomy budlets are still kind of covered in dead leaves. And then when you start to sweep them away, you see they were still growing. 

Even under all that ice and snow, they were still growing. So, for this Ostara, this Spring Equinox, we wanted to invite you to Listen in on one of our Coven meetings and see what we do there. Yeah, this is a Coven meeting where we made art and talked about having an art practice. A personal, messy, non productive, non corporatized, non cash infused. 

But truly, like, as part of your spiritual resistance, how can you, how can you let yourself be an artist? And in some cases, it turned out, it was like, how can you realize you always have been all of the ways that you have drawn art in to support you in your life? Remembering the classes you took, the things you were drawn to, the times you let your hands play, the times you let yourself dance, the filmmakers that colored your world. 

We want to invite you to go down those roads with us while you listen, and maybe fucking paint or glue something or mash some Play Doh, like, let your body listen with you, and with us, let's come back into our bodies and feel empowered to make the world we dream. You'll, you'll hear all of this in the conversation, but we talked about art as activism and art as like that very personal activism as, as a mental health practice, how relaxing and calming, um, it can be to just sit down and paint a blob and also how invigorating and exciting it can be when you take your political ideas and you You visualize them, so you manifest them some way into a visualized piece. 

Oh my gosh, and just like Google some political art if you're ever feeling totally disempowered. Just like look at what people have made and feel like less alone. Yeah, this is a quote that I wanted to read, and then, as always, we got to talking, and the time slipped away, so I'm gonna stick it in right here. 

It's from this wonderful book that, again, I very much recommend if you're trying to connect or reconnect your magic to your ult. Art. It's called The Art of the Occult, a visual source book for, for the modern mystic. And it is beautiful. It's all full of prints and text. Um, it was curated put together by s Elizabeth. 

And this is a quote from PD, us Pensky, and it's gendered. So we'll just ignore the gendered pronouns here. Too many he's but . The artist must be clairvoyant. He must see that which others do not see. He must be a magician. He must possess the power to make others see what they do not themselves see, but which he does. 

So what do you see that other people don't see, and what, what part does that play in your magic? So we hope you'll enjoy this first day of spring with us and the Missing Witches Coven. Love you guys. Bless the fucking bee. Be a witch! Be a witch! Be a witch! You must be a witch. The Missing Witches Coven. 

I'm so excited to be in circle with all of you, as always. To hear your ideas and your thoughts. And your ramblings, and your off train thinkings. We always start these meetings with the lighting of a candle, and this candle kind of symbolizes the candle. the deal that we make, the covenant that we make when we come into this space. 

And that is that here, if nowhere else, we can release our shame and we can release our judgment. Not our good judgment, not our critical awareness, but that piece of us that feels compelled to Frank and judge. And when we release that feeling for other people, we find that we can also release that feeling from ourselves. 

Like let's experiment with a place where we can really be ourselves. What happens? What happens in a space where you can unmask and say what you think without assuming that you're gonna be judged or mocked for it? So that's what this candle represents. And as long as it's lit and as long as we're in this circle together. 

Let it be that place. Let it be that experimental place where we can just be who we are, or maybe even find out who we are, because we've never had an open space to explore the possibilities before. So this month we are talking about art, which is absolutely one of my most, uh, favorite makes me excited topics in all the world. 

I am kind of a visual artist, you know, and a performance artist, but above all of that, I think of myself as an art appreciator. I have never had a piece in a gallery. You know, I've done album covers and the illustrations for both of our books, but I've never had a piece in a gallery, but Art galleries are one of my absolute favourite spaces in the whole world, and I'm not even sure exactly why, but I get so excited, and my spouse says that he loves going to galleries with me because I get so excited, because to me, they aren't these like, cold, stayed, quiet, militantly quiet spaces. 

If I see a work of art that makes me laugh, I laugh. And if I see a work of art that gets me excited, I woo! You know, I've wooed in galleries all over the world. And I think that's okay. And I don't think the artists that made the work would not think that that was okay. Um, I want to kind of open this, what will be a creation and discussion space. 

Um, I shared this in our Coven space. Um, again, it wasn't homework, so there will be no quiz. But it's a report that was put together by artists at Risk Connection and Penn America called Art. is power. Twenty artists on how they fight for justice and inspire change. And the foreword is written by Paul Rucker, and something that he wrote that I wanted to bring to us here tonight. 

Paul Rucker wrote, Those who target us know Just like we do, that artistic expression is one of the most powerful tools we have to uplift marginalized voices, change minds, and influence policies. So, tonight, um, we're going to give you a prompt for creation and also a prompt for conversation. So, while you Gather ye tools. 

Risa is going to read a section of her chapter from New Moon Magic that inspired this conversation tonight. Hi, Risa. So exciting. All right, here's this short piece from this book, which I haven't looked at. It's so strange to hold and read things again. It's so odd. It's so lovely. It exists. All new moons make a space. 

Without the brightness of the sun reflecting on the moon and casting big shadows, we can more clearly see the depths. Pisces new moon swims deep in those waters, following the luminescence that is down there. Not a reflection, but a living glow, all its own. One new moon, I sat at the bottom of the ocean, in the middle of the night. 

We turned off our headlamps and breathed through our regulators in the cold, pressing depth, in what should have been ultimate dark, and saw what hadn't been visible before. Our every breath, our every gesture stirred up a gentle bioluminescence that was all around us. There was light there, living light. 

The coral bloomed in the night and drew their long, pink skeletal fins through the water, gathering microorganisms. Everything was lit, everything brilliantly alive, everything more beautiful than I ever could have imagined from the surface. On this new moon, I invite you to slip down to the depths of your psychic Piscean mind and make art from what you find there. 

With that art, help to make visible totally new possibilities for your life and for the world. Challenge. Tonight we're going to try to meet that challenge, right? Yeah. We're going to fuck with it at least. Let's do it. Yeah. So I brought, again, um, a creative, a creation prompt and a conversation prompt. But first, I have so many but firsts. 

I'm always like, but first, I'm going to do 12 things and then we'll get to the thing. I promise. But I like how you constantly build suspense. That's great. Yes. But first, yeah, I, I have kind of a parable, a self created parable that I brought. I, I don't like to give advice that I would not be willing to take, first of all. 

And I don't like to talk bullshit that I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about. Oh, sometimes I do. Actually, that was one of those bullshit things. But, um, I had suggested, you know, as an option that watercolor sets are super cheap and super accessible. So in preparation for this meeting yesterday, I went down to my local, it's called the Folly. 

It's mostly party supplies, but it's kind of one of those, a little bit of everything stores. And I got this paint palette. I'm holding it up. It has 12 colors. In a palette and it was 2. 49, which by the way is what I paid for a fucking tomato at the grocery store on that same trip. So I think if I had to choose, it might be difficult, but 2. 

49. So I grabbed this 2. 49 palette of paints and I came home and I'd made two pieces. This is the first one. I'm holding it up. It is some squiggly, sharpie lines that kind of intersect and connect over each other. And then I filled in the negative spaces with various images. And when I finished it, I thought, Oh, wonderful. 

Oh, I love this. This was so relaxing. I had such a great time doing this. What a, what a wonderful way to pass 15, 20 minutes. And then I did a painting of my dog. And again, this is a watercolor painting of a black miniature poodle. It's kind of blue and purple. And when I finished this painting, I said to myself, Oh, wonderful. 

Wow, what a terrible painting. That doesn't look anything like my dog. I screwed up the light source. I made her muzzle too. So this, all this to say is the parable of, I would suggest choosing for tonight or for anti anxiety medication. Something completely abstract, as abstract as possible. Because if you paint a dog, and it doesn't really look like a dog, you go into this place of judgment, of product, product, product. 

My product isn't the product that I envisioned. But when you're just making colourful, beautiful, delightful blobs, like, there is no wrong answer. And you can really just exist in the process of the making. For those of you who are listening after the fact, I will, I will photograph and post my dog painting and my, my blob painting. 

But again, I just want to say that you don't have to be good at rendering. You don't have to be Good, period. For this exercise, you just have to be in the moment of creation and see what flows out of you. And there's no room for judgment because nobody knows what an amorphous message from the universe looks like. 

So nobody can tell you that it doesn't look like an amorphous message from the universe. There's no wrong blob. There is no wrong blob. As Linda said in the chat. So, again, that's just kind of a parable. Before you actually put All blobs are equal. All blobs are equal. Thank you. Yes. So, again, I wanted to kind of open with that because I don't want you to judge what you make, but before you put pen to paper, or paint to paper, or needle to material, or papier mâché to balloon, or before you start squishing into your clay, or your homemade play doh, before you start gluing scraps of paper to your paper bag. 

Just keep in mind, if you don't know what it is, then it can't be wrong. So that's my advice for that moment. So I'm going to give you the creation prompt, and then we'll get into our conversation. The creation prompt is the following. What? What does it feel like to be a witch? 

And I would encourage you to not use words if you can avoid putting text in your work just for this. I love putting text in my work, um, and I definitely wouldn't say like, don't do that in general, but for this particular exercise, how do we visually articulate feeling? What does it feel like to be a witch? 

A witch. Let's try to get out of words and out of descriptions. Let's try to get into color and shape and texture and perspective and scale and chaos. what? Does it feel like to be a witch? And how can we communicate that with shape and color? 

Now, for those of you who didn't come to paint, you came to talk. I have something for you too. And I have many questions because, you know, we're the Missing Witches Coven, and we stray wildly, always, from the prompts that we're given, and I wanted to bring prompts that are sort of Wait, new slogan, the Missing Witches Coven, we stray wildly. 

I mean, if the witch hat fits. So I brought a couple of different questions for consideration and hopefully one of them will Sort of allow you to speak on what you wanted to speak on tonight, and if it doesn't Completely ignore it and say whatever comes up for you. That's also really important for us, that you feel like if something comes up for you, then you're in a space where we can believe that that is a download from spirit that needs to be spoken in this circle here tonight. 

Even if for you a download for spirit is like a jolt of electrical energy and the great spurious unknown that that is. Whatever that feels like for you or makes sense in your brain. That's another slogan. The great spurious unknown. We're all full of slogans. Oh my gosh, slogans. So, question number one. 

How does art, and when I say art, I mean either making or appreciating or both. How does art influence your mental health, your witchcraft, your activism, your identity. And if maybe you're a person who feels like a creative bud who has not yet burst open into bloom, maybe you have an inner saboteur who tries to tell you that you may as well not paint the dog because the painting of the dog is going to be shitty and it's not going to look like your dog and then why did you bother painting the dog? 

And you just can't get past that. I get it. I get it. So I brought a different question so that you don't have to feel like You need to be Leonardo da Vinci in order to join this conversation. The other question is, who, so what artists have, and then the same question, have influenced your mental health, your activism, your identity, your worldview, and I really want you to think not just about painters, But dancers and filmmakers and choreographers, and especially consider fashion as a visual language, consider clothing as an art of craft, right? 

And how does that visual language, how did their communication of the visual language of paint or film or fashion influence you and make you who you are? I'm gonna start really quickly because for me it's like super obvious to me when I think about it. that I discovered John Waters and David Lynch when I was 11 and 12 years old, respectively. 

And I think that that comedic absurdity and that dramatic surrealism absolutely factored into my identity as a human being, my perspective as an adult, as a child then, and then as a teenager, and then still. As an adult going into this world, I can legitimately say that I would not be who I am today had I not stumbled on these filmmakers when I was so young and impressionable. 

So I turn it to you. I turn it over to you, The Missing Witch's Coven. What does art do for you, and what have artists done for you? Let's start with Linda. Hi, Linda. Hi there. How are you? I'm great. I'm so happy to be here. Me too. Um, still trying to, um, I don't know if you all do this in Canada, but we're still trying to recover from changing the time, which we did this weekend. 

We sprang forward and now we're back. We hate that. As a collective, we hate that, right? We hate that, yes, we do. Definitely hate it. It's supposed to be light in the morning, not at, I mean, you know, it's gonna get lighter at night anyway, because the days are getting longer. And the statistics show that, like, strokes go up, uh, car accidents go up, heart attacks go up in the week after. 

When you fuck with people's circadian rhythm, it's not pretty. So, um, I'm working on a puppet. I've never made a puppet. So, this is my little puppet that I'm working on. And she's going to have hair, when I get done, made out of little fabric scraps. And I also made a little quilted box that I had two blocks of a quilt that I had left over. 

And so I made a box out of it. Um, the other thing is, is I have a, he became a good friend, um, his name is Jay Hubbard and he lives in North Carolina and we started chatting and he, he's an artist and I love his artwork, just absolutely love it, mostly abstract, but he had this. Can you describe it for the listeners? 

It is, it is a Venus, well I call it Venus, it is like almost like a reclining, um, Venus of Willendorf. Figure very round and and all rainbow swirly colors Yeah, like and she's in a blue background like almost like she's lying in water and I saw that on his blog or his website or whatever and I Just contacted him and contacted him immediately and said I I have to have that. 

I have to have that painting. He had never sold a painting before. He didn't know what to charge for it. He didn't know how to get it to me in colorado from north carolina, but I bought Um, and it's been a few well, it's been gosh, I want to say 10 years Maybe i've carried it to texas with me. I carried it here. 

I will never be without venus And I still have a lot of artwork that's still wrapped up in bubble wrap, but she's on the wall and she's going to be on the wall wherever I am. And so if I had the money and the space, I would buy everything that he paints because I love it so much. And, you know, because, because I kept telling him that and because I kept saying, you really need to show this stuff to people. 

And he's very much like the inner critic for himself. And so he has since gone on to, you know, he hasn't done it in a while because of COVID and all the other stuff. But for a while, he opened up his own little gallery with his wife and he sold more paintings. And, you know, he wants to do it again now that things have kind of settled down a little bit. 

And so, yeah, you know, that's what I want to know why you love that Venus painting so much. How does it make you feel when you look at it? Because I'm a fat woman and it's me. And you know, it's me. And, and I love it. It's beautiful. It's just absolutely gorgeous. I love the colors. I'm a swimmer. my Alcatraz tattoo that I swam Alcatraz when I was 54 and it just makes me feel like it just it gives me peace and it gives me joy. 

I think that's like the definition of cool is like something or someone that can make you feel like comfortable and peaceful and super excited all at the same time. Yeah, exactly. I mean, the minute I saw it, it was just like, oh no, that's, that's mine. That's mine. Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. 

What's the name of the artist again? His name is, is Jay Hubbard. I love it. I just, I love his style. I love his color. I just, I love it. Yes. That's the only reason that I want more walls. I don't want a bigger house, but somehow I want more walls. Kalika, what, how has art influenced your life? How has making art or being an appreciator of art influenced your life? 

Um, Art has influenced my life from such a young age, all kinds of art. Like I danced, I still, I'm trying to get my body into movement more. Um, but I, I used to dance all the time. That was actually the first form of art that I did. Um, and then I did pottery and choir and I took art history because I loved it so much. 

And it just made me feel like my life would be falling apart and I could go into the pottery studio or a dance studio and either put on some music and dance until I just was lying on the floor or literally throw a blob of clay on a wheel and the, the rhythm of the wheel would just center me. I do have kind of a interesting story. 

Um, but art to me is very alchemical. It changes and it good art to the right person. It will change them regardless of and there's an impermanence to it, especially with dance. But I learned that that a very hard lesson that that's true for other arts as well. So the story I was getting ready to put a pottery piece into my school art show. 

I worked on this piece almost the entirety of the year. It started from a dream. I dreamt the piece that I made. And then I started making it and it was a tree and it was this beautiful gnarled oaky tree, not like the horror story type where it's kind of stylized, but like a, a real old oak tree where they're just beautiful and majestic, but the limbs I had, they were, they went up and it almost looked like hands. 

Holding a ball. I threaded wire all through the, the limbs of the tree and it was up on display before the art show and the day of the shelf broke, everything crashed that was on that shelf, including my piece. So it was like this lesson of art, like it, it changed me as I was making it. 'cause I really felt like it was something that was. 

supposed to get out of my brain somehow, and everyone who, who saw it while I was making it thought it was moving, but they couldn't describe why. And then the crash. So I'm like, okay, impermanence. That is my lesson. 

Yeah. I mean, we talk so much about like valuing process over product, right? So that's like the real like kick in the ass version of that. Or the Banksy piece that, as soon as the auction ended, fell through the paper shredder, you know? 

But do you still, you have fond memories of the making of the piece, right? Or are they all just like, you wept and wept and wept and never wanted to make another tree again? Um, actually it was kind of traumatizing. I didn't draw another tree until, um, that night with dead leading circle. And we were supposed to be drawing a sigil and I drew a tree. 

Yeah, I remember that. So you're back. You're back with some tree art for the house. I love that. I love that full circle moment because that was such a beautiful ritual space that Deb was holding for us and that that would be the time that the tree art would want to come back through you. That's delightful. 

And I have other stories about like dance being impermanent. Oh my goodness. So many stories about dance. Yes. Yeah. Um, Risa has, has written and spoken about Anna Halprin, you know, one of our favorite, yeah. I was gonna say, yeah, well, we have a, we're, we're gonna try to follow the new moon. The chapter's in the book this year, but the rest of the year with our circles and play with the rituals that are in there and conjure new ones together. 

And there's a chapter on dance. So we'll have to talk about how we will engage dance together at that time, Kalika. I'd love to, because I, oh, I was, I have an idea. Okay, let's take this offline. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll come back to it. And Deb happens to be right here to answer, um, to the making of space. Look at that. 

Hi, Deb. I also have some tree art to show you, Kalika, that I will show you later. Um, offline, um, and, um, but, and what I'm going to say is kind of speaks to what you said too, which is interesting that I'm right after you. So what I want to talk about right now is the power of art and making art, the deep, the depths of that power and, um, in relationship to my experience as an artist. 

Um, in the times that I've done art in my life, I've done a lot of dance. I've also done a lot of visual, different visual arts. And, um, and what I've learned over the time of working on art projects is that, um, I always learn something really intense when I take on a big art project and then see it through, like something that I didn't expect to understand or know about when I went into doing the project, and I realized that it's because. 

for the hundreds of thousands of years before we had writing. Art was how we kept the, it was the receptacle for all of our cultural artifacts. So everything in the culture was held in The arts, and it was passed from generation to generation in the, through these artistic mediums. And you can now anytime still access that, that cultural repository or that human species, species repository by plugging into deeply into your art, because it's all still there waiting for us. 

And it's been there with the, the That thousands of generations of power put on top of it as we keep doing it over so much time, all those generations, each one adds more power and adds more knowledge and adds more information. This very vast and very intense, um, source of power for us. But I want to speak specifically about a time that I did a photo essay. 

I want to do a photo essay on the three muses. And as I was working on the three muses, like what imagery am I going to use? Where am I going to take these pictures and how are they going to represent these three, the three muses are, if you don't know, song, dance, and story. Um, they have Greek names, but I can't remember them right now. 

And, um, and as I was working on these muses, I came to understand over the couple of months that it took that our brains are hardwired to learn and to remember and to conceptualize through these three media. So it's another way in which it's like a source of power for us, because Not only is it a cultural power, but it's physically embodied power in that your brain is actually hardwired to both learn, remember, and understand through these media of song, dance, and stories telling. 

I have to add, like, um, archaeologists have found human art, um, as old as 45, 000 years. I believe that that's currently the oldest art that they've found, um, is 45, 000 years old. So to me, that speaks so much about how art is like a part of our very humanity, like DNA. Yeah. And there's a, there's a archaeologist who did a study where she mapped out, um, the, the signals, the, the, uh, the sigils and signs and like images that were used over a 30, 000 year period over all of the world. 

And they're all consistent, meaning that these people had this same language for 30, 000 years. That's amazing. more generations than we can even count of information that was passed down in this like way that was kept for so much time. So there's some deep knowledge in there. And if you want to connect into your ancestral knowledges or your prehistoric ancestors, or even like cosmic reality, art is a place where you can do that. 

There's another slogan. Art is a place where we can connect with that cosmic reality. And again, I want, I want to. One last thing I'm going to add to it, which is if in hope, that book, Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit talks about the power of art to incite change and activism, and that all revolutionary movements start with, um, symbolic, like, actions, which are in the form of art, usually. 

Yes, one of the artists that wrote in this, um, When I opened, I, I mentioned that, uh, that report, Art is Power, and one of them calls artists the canary in the coal mine. Artists are the ones who are going to say something first, or notice something first, and I think that we can say that about witches too, that maybe we have that in common, that we are, we are the canaries in the coal mine. 

Um, Yeah, and Maria Gimbutas, who was like, I don't think that these are just like markings on pottery. I think that this might be like a language and it's language. All the patriarchy was like Maria Gimbutas is you're so dumb, you know, but that's those are the those are the images that that woman documented and she did like. 

like thousands of thousands of sites of research and found and actually found patterns and found that they are a language. Yeah. Okay, I have to add a little other piece from New Moon Magic here. I've thought of the same piece now three times from other things that came up. I have to add a tiny piece about Black Panther, the film. 


We wrote, What would a feminist, anti racist, rooted version of art and symbol magic look like? Afrofuturist artists give us a pretty good idea. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter drew on the Adrinka symbol language of the Bono people of Gaiaman to create the visual world of Black Panther. And in doing so, she suggests a joyful other way to approach the crafting of hyper sigils in our lives and in culture. 

Digging into the symbol language of our ancestors to craft and wear icon messages that speak beyond words, in a visual emotional language of the worlds we want to live in, draws those possibilities into the living, moving, breathing, sweaty present. In Wakanda, the Adrinka symbol for cooperation is emblazoned on capes that move like fabric blankets until a gesture unlocks their secret technology and they become shields. 

She used Adrinka symbols that date from at least the 1600s and were developed to make points of connection between tribes with different dialects and also to communicate truths too complex for words. Like runes, the symbols themselves have power. They are not similes for the spirits they stand for. 

They are, in some fundamental way, the spirits themselves. The capes with their ancient symbols borrowed from the real world are a humming, rippling piece of the utopian magic in the movie. So much of what you were saying, Deb, I was like, hallelujah. So, such a beautiful insight. Yeah, the symbols are magic, right? 

They are spirits. Yeah. And if you are blocked, um, about having art as part of your practice of your witchcraft or your humanity, then I would absolutely suggest breaking that seal. And And connecting to one of the most ancient things that people, we were making art, as far as archaeology tells us anyway, before we were doing agriculture, that's how deep art is in us. 

So, with that, I will turn to Michelle. Hi, Michelle. Hi everyone, and thank you for this beautiful space. I'm awed by the wisdom that's already been shared here. I'll try to make my comments brief to allow lots of space for other folks. Um, I never considered myself an artist. Um, so I really loved you bringing dance into this space because I am a dancer. 

I started dance class when I was three, went all the way through point ballet, all of that. Now I dance to whatever the music tells me to do. So art in motion, I love that. Lots of artists around along the way have inspired me. I love when it, you get sucked into a piece of art and it just, You just kind of sit with it and you enter this other dimension as you contemplate what it all means. 

But the story I wanted to share with you all is I'm a geologist and a mathematician. So nature is a beautiful artist to me and geologists will also take a rock and cut what they call a thin section. It's like a paper, literally a paper thin section of the rock and shine light in it. And as you rotate it around, it, um, polarizes and shows in different ways. 

They call them thin sections. I will say they're not fun to make because the oils. Give off all these fumes and you can only stay in the lab for about 15 minutes at a time. And then you got to back out because you're too high and then you come back into the lab. But if you've never seen thin sections, I encourage you to Google it when you get done with this, because it's just beautiful artwork in and of itself. 

But on my mathematician side, M. C. Escher. So I don't know anything about his background. I'm hoping that he's a whole person to bring into this space. If he's not, please forgive me. My grandmother on my mother's side passed away two winter solstices ago. And probably 10 years before that, she was in late stage Alzheimer's and. 

So the last time she was still mobile and she came to my house from Ohio down to North Carolina, and I had this NC Escher photo above my kitchen table, and it's one of those, the stairs go up, the stairs go down, the stairs go sideways. And she was on this really interesting 20 minute loop conversation. 

And what would always snap her out of it was that picture, because she would turn to it and she would say, What is that? Where are the stairs going? And we would just have this conversation about this N. C. Escher picture, and then she'd cycle back through this conversation about, uh, moonshiners. For some reason, she was watching a lot of that. 

But anyways, I just wanted to bring my grandmother into this space, and um, thank you for letting me share this story. Thank you. And it's so funny, the sort of like, the parallel between communicating with someone with dementia and the art of M. C. Escher, right? These sort of staircases that don't go anywhere and the confused perspective. 

There's really, um, there's something I can taste in my mouth about that. Is it the taste of a great short story? I hope you'll write it, Michelle. Yeah. 

Jasmine, what did you bring? How has art influenced your life or artists? Oh, man, I was When it comes to visual art, I didn't have a choice because my mother's a visual artist. Well, that would be the number one artistic influence in your life, for sure. Yeah, and my, my mom, our, our relationship is, it's better now, but growing up, I was undiagnosed and she, because my father was a federal politician, she became essentially a single parent. 

And so things have, of course, like the ship has kind of chilled out now. Um, but yeah, there, she always says that like art is a healer and my mother's gone through a lot of medical stuff in the past couple of years. You know, she's, we always joke that she's like losing, she keeps losing pieces. She has half a pancreas, no gallbladder, no appendix, sort of her bowel's missing now, like, oh, you know, these things. 

She always goes back to the art. Um, and now that she has a granddaughter, my cousin, My niece, Penny, who turns three, seven days after my mother turned 65 this year. So my mom is a, uh, spring equinox baby, March 21st and, uh, Penny is on the 28th. And, um, It's nice to get videos of them. Every Friday, my niece goes to the house and they paint together inside this like studio that my dad had built for my mom and my mom calls it the Hildegard, which is my grandmother's name. 

who is Bavarian. So, Penny, because it was my birthday on the leap year, my three year old niece made me some art. It's an octopus. Oh, okay. It's an octopus. Please describe it in detail. Listen, it's um, so it is a, I don't know how big the canvas is, but eight by ten. It's about the size of a piece of paper. Um, it is a canvas and it's got, um, It's her fingers, like, finger painting that she's taken purple and like, like, gone across the, to make the tentacles. 

And there's definitely more than eight, but it's okay, because three year olds can give octopi as many legs as they want. And there's like a blue circle in the middle, which I assume is the head. And then there's some blue streaks and like, there's like black streaks around and yeah, and it says for Auntie Jasmine, happy birthday octopus by Penny Pearl because her middle name's Pearl. 

So yeah, art. Um, I also have my three goddaughters. They're older now, but, um, I have their footprints. My friend did their, their footprints on canvas when they were born. So I have that. But, um, I think for me, music is more of an influence. Like I love visual art. I love the art of like Frida Kahlo and, um, Vincent van, van Hoogh. 

Um, I think because I, I tend to connect with artists that are neurodivergent, who, you know, chronic illness, who live with pain, who live with mental illness. Um, cause I, for me, when I'm at my worst. It's really hard to want to create anything, and there's something about people still being able to create, or they create because they're at their worst, they feel at their worst, that I just, it gives me hope, that like, things can still be made when you're feeling really low, even though not all of us can make the things, there's still people who can make the things. 

Like Frida, lying in her bed, in a full body cast, like painting the cast, because she had to do something. Like, that's you. For me, I would probably just lie there and cry about it. Um, you know, um, a couple weeks ago, I was like in a pretty bad depressive state and my spouse handed me a lump of clay. And, uh, so I'd make something with this. 

And I was gonna make a bowl, I'm holding it up now, it's like grey, air dry, you know, das clay. I was gonna make a bowl and the bowl just got flatter and flatter and flatter and I said, Okay, it's an ashtray, that's fine. And I wish that I could like, Treat my own state of mind the same way that I treated that lump of clay of like, Oh, it's flat today. 

Okay. It's not a bowl. It's an ashtray. Anyway, you made you made me think about that Yeah, and I like with music so I have synesthesia so I see color visualizations when I hear like people's voices Like Amy, your voice is like so rich. It's got like the, it's like the, the deepest purple you can think of. 

And then there's these like flecks, like every time I hear the podcast, you get these flecks of like blood red. And I don't know why that is. Like people always ask, is that a good thing? The colors don't have a moral significance. It's just how my brain goes. And Risa, your voice is like a dandelion yellow. 

And like, Just, and there's like, yeah, so it's almost like there's winter, Amy, you're the winter, and Risa's like the summer. It's like, I don't know how to explain it, but it's like the perfect combo. That's so cool! Yeah, like right now, it's like, it's so yellow, I'm always like, Risa's voice is so yellow. I also just wanted to let you know that you could maybe have a little side hustle going, because there are like many, several people in the chat who want to know what colour their voice is. 

Maybe, maybe this could be something you take on as a commission basis so people can find out what color their voices are. Every time Deb, I hear your voice. I see like, uh, moss green with like silver. And I so I just want to shout out to Deb because I hear Deb a lot and I'm like it's that it's the moss green silver like a river I don't know how to explain it but yeah it's like if I was a painter maybe I could paint them out but like I'm trying to describe but yeah if people want to know I like yeah it's I can tell you what that is that's the moon and the tree The moon and the tree. 

Moon and the tree. I love even conceptually, notionally, the idea of synesthesia. You know? Like, it's a completely different way of understanding the universe. And like, I don't have it, so it's really exciting to me. Yeah. People always say, what's it like? I was like, well, it's like how November is Thursday and also navy blue. 

You know? That's fine. Yeah. But yeah. Uh, like if people want to video chat me, it's, I could, yeah, it's fun. Thank you so much, Joss. We love you. Tanis, I know you are a maker, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. I'm all the things. Um, no, it's funny when you mentioned art, I remember as a little kid, you know, you want to get messy, you want to do the things, but my mom was always such a neat freak and she always wanted everything needs to be clean. 

Everything needs to be, whereas when I had my own kids, I was like, nope, not doing this. They get the Play Doh, they get the paint. We cover the table in newspaper, do what you want to do. And as you said, I was like, so my goal for this new moon was to finish my wand. And when I was in Salem, a very beautiful lady in one of the shops said, The tools that you make yourself mean the most. 

So I was like, okay, my wand, I'm going to make, I'm going to make. So here I am sitting with my dust from my stick that I found in the forest, and I've started my wand. Um, Can you please give us a visual description of your dust and stick? My dust is just whittled wood bits of all the bark and the little bits that I didn't want on the, On there, on top of my journal, which is a new thing that I started, and I draw in my journal, I doodle, I, you know, take notes for your meetings, so that's another form of my own artwork. 

I'm not, you know, I feel like our parents don't always do a the service and give us the freedom to do what we want. And being able to overcome that, I think that's important. And that's a lot of art itself. It's just overcoming those adversities that you've had in your life. And then my wand is like a bendy wand. 

Um, it's going to be, um, a Thyrsus one. So I have a, uh, Pine cone that I'm going to put on top of it. So it's, it's going to be a thing. I'm working on it. It's happening. Um, but I want to say music. Music for me has always been, uh, like, In my heart. I'm one of those people that when I hear like a certain song or a certain thing that really touches me, I get goosebumps everywhere. 

And you feel it like inside of you. It's all the way coming out. And I think, um, that's also but, but when I went to the Louvre with my dad. He's like, okay, we're going to do this, but he's like, we're going to do this really quickly because my dad didn't want to go through everything and go look at everything. 

So I don't know if anybody knows the movie, but I remember watching it as a teenager and I've been trying to Google it and I've tried to look it up, but there's a movie where there's three young French people, um, two boys and a girl, and they run through the Louvre. And that's. their thing. And I don't remember if it was a French movie or English movie. 

I watched it as a teenager and that's what it felt like I was doing. And it just felt like I was recreating that moment with my dad. And that's something I'm never gonna, you know, forget. But um, I'm like you. I go to to art galleries. Like every city I go to, I've tried to go to an art gallery in that city. 

Um, I just think it's, it's fun to see what, The people of that place find important what they consider art. Um, but in Montreal, we had that graffiti art museum. I don't know if you've ever been to it. Um, I love graffiti art. I have two paintings. Oops. I don't want to on my wall. Um, well not paintings, sorry, the recreations, but they're of graffiti, from graffiti artists. 

One is a woman with her head tilted back with a bird on her shoulder. She has three eyes and her other eye is the Montreal symbol with a flower around it. Um, and the other one is a panther, a black panther, and it's funny you mentioned black panther earlier, a black panther going through a gold forest. 

And, um, when I saw them, I knew I had to have them. And, you know, there's another artist called Hey Copy, which I actually really loved as well because she brought South Asian culture and she was from here and me growing up here, not having that around me, you know, as a child, um, that was also very important to me. 

So just taking my whole world, melding it into one little, all these beautiful things. 

It's so amazing to me that, you know, we're on Zoom so we can see into your home and to the homes of, you know, everyone who's here who has their camera on. And almost everybody, you know, you can see, if you can see enough of their room, you can find a piece of art. Oh, for sure. It's so much of our lives. 

It's so much of our lives. But it's like, yeah, for me, art and witchcraft and everything is about getting messy, getting into it. And like, feeling it, like, with your hand and your soul and everything, so. Yeah. Those two are very much interlinked, for sure. Yeah, and maybe that's why, you know, like, um, religion has this, notion about purity and cleanliness and order and stacking all of the angels in a neat row in all of the pews. 

And you know, we've seen this represented in art too, right? Like the chaos, the chaos of demons and the order of, of angels, right? If, if anybody has been to Florence, there's that one church in Florence. Um, and the ceiling is like the Descent into hell. And I remember standing there in the middle, just staring at it for like, how long? 

And I'm sure I didn't even catch all of it in the time I was there, but, beautiful. The chaos. Satlene, I feel like you know a thing or two about, uh, chaos. Messiness. Really? Um, good evening, everyone. Good evening. For those in the evening, I suppose. Um, you know, and as you're saying that I'm looking and yes, all these rich backgrounds that people have and it's like, you know, we're still unpacking or I feel like we've just moved from Minnesota and, um, my family's here in Connecticut where I am and. 

Still, you know, have maybe 1 50th of our belongings and some things, yes, got rolled up and those things got tucked in places in the car and found little niches and things, but really not much has been unpacked and nothing's really on the walls and it's still cool. It doesn't quite feel like home and I need to do that, but I just, I have been in a funk myself and it's, it's been really difficult to do things, let alone, you know, sometimes literally get up so, you know, um, but. 

for artists. Well, actually, first I'll say is that the apartment that we do have faces kind of east. And so we finally have light. We have sunlight. My last apartment, we didn't have much light. We were facing, we were facing, um, North ish and, you know, living in the north ish and I'm a plant person. And, um, so I'm just, so the windows are, you know, come down to like lower shin. 

So I just, you know, I'm so, I can't wait to plant. I can't wait to get in the dirt and plant and, you know, and, um, but I, I went to school for photography and, um, You know, I was very lucky that my high school had a photography program. And I remember, um, just like when I first was in the dark room and, you know, of course, when you first see an image come up, you know, out of that and the developer, you know, um, like, really like the first, first time, sort of like, there's a first time for a lot of things that there's just only the first time. 

And just. How magical that seemed that, you know, of course it was the silver halide crystals, you know, doing their thing, but, and then going through that and to the developer and it's slimy, you know, and just, or the, the stop in the train, the different, you know, things. And, um, but anyways. So, um, with that, though, and I realized that the artists that I was thinking and writing down are, um, dead white ladies, or I could be identified as female. 

So I was like, damn, I don't want only dead white ladies on my, on my paper. And I can think of other people, but, you know, and I was like, okay, I'm aware of that. But, um, you know, Carolee Schumann, um, and I just. saw that she had passed is, um, of interior scroll is, um, you know, performance artists, you know, of, of, of, you know, using her body in like physically, um, standing, you know, in her without any clothes and having an uncurling, you know, a piece of long thin paper that has been Up inside of her and, um, um, had somewhere there, but it was just, I know when I first saw that, I was like, wow, you know, is, but it's like, that is so intimate. 

And so of course it is, but of, of, of burying oneself, truly burying oneself. And not, not for shock value, not, not for, but sort of like, you know, pretend I'm shaking the beard. Do you fucking hear me? Do you hear me? Yes. Yeah. And um, yeah. Yeah. There's so much that's like shock for shock value and it's like whatever. 

Click bait, and then there's like, I'm trying to provoke something. Yeah. Ideally a thought . Yeah. And this is how, how I'm going to do that. Yeah. I don't want my art to ever be, not my art, but the art that I consume to ever be safe. And that was, um, some of her very early work, I think, you know, in her, like, like 20, you know, early 20s, late 20s. 

So, um, and, um, just some other things, but as, um, I just looked that piece up. That was 1975 and boldly, but a goodie so badass. Oh, and I, I later on when I, when I was. Like 23 up in Portland, Maine. I saw she was teaching at one of the local art schools and I went to a lecture with her and it was just, you know, it was very interesting. 

It's interesting also being able to work with people that you've, um, 

inspired you. I'll say inspired, um, but Um, Rachel had put in the, in the chat about, um, Wadsworth Atheneum. And, uh, I grew up in Connecticut and I, um, one of my first jobs was at the Wadsworth, color correcting, uh, for the calendars. And things and pieces that, you know, everyone wants to post and everybody would get, Oh, say, do I have memory issues? 

So as many of you know, um, with my stuff is everyone got the, um, the Georgia O'Keeffe. I don't remember if it was, it was something tree and everyone got that piece. It's very kind of abstract. They got it the wrong direction, the wrong color. And I can, cause I can, I can look at things and I can say, Plus two, minus three cyan, you know, and that's kind of the way my brain and color thinks, um, but there's an exhibit there, um, by Janine Antonini, um, who, um, in one of the smaller, um, galleries, that was a piece that she did, and I didn't get to see her, but I got to see it at the end, and it was called Loving Care, and she used, uh, her hair, uh, with hair dye, And she mopped the whole floor with her head, with her long hairs, her paintbrush, with, you know, whatever hair dye, you know, in terms of what, you know, and I don't know, lots of different things, um, that could be said about that, but. 

Both, you know, those are very clearly physical things and just, those are pieces that really have spoken to me and, and yeah, thank you. Thank you so much. Jess, I know you have many things to say on this subject. Thank you so much for coming. How are you doing? Tell us about the world of art. Ah, I'm so excited. 

I'm gonna just spread the good word of the artist that made me want to become an artist. Um, so it was a beautiful day in early 90s Saskatchewan, um, and my parents took me to Mendel Art Gallery and on display was work by a Metis artist called Edward Potra. Um, and He had taken bones and reassembled them into a sculpture of a coyote and it was in the middle of the gallery and I was like four and I was like this is the greatest thing I've seen in my life and I booked it and I touched that sculpture and got yelled at by a security guard. 

Okay, I literally have to walk around galleries with my hands clasped behind my back because I want to touch everything. And, oh man, and ever since then, like, his work is, he uses portals and the coyote to kind of set up this, this space of being in between and this liminal space and, um, kind of like, this own personal power to transform things. 

And he will go into a gallery space and just absolutely transform it into something else. And he, yeah, he, I saw his work when I was four, and I knew I wanted to be an artist from that moment on. Like, it was the most potent magic I'd ever seen in my life. And I didn't know what magic was at that point in time. 

Um, So, yeah, Edward Padre, just absolutely the greatest. And then my other, um, artist that made me want to become an artist was my Oma. Um, she was a displaced person from East Prussia. And, um, uh, came to Saskatchewan after the Second World War in the 50s, and she covered the walls of their farmhouse in murals in oil paint depicting what she could reimagine East Prussia and Germany looking like, and kind of like, filling this farmhouse, and it's abandoned now, and, but those murals are still there, and it was, these two artists together introduced me to this idea of like, that art can make, can give you the power to reimagine the past and the present and future, and so now when I'm making my own art, it's constantly, I'm constantly thinking about how maybe I'm reimagining the past. 

Through my work, every single thing I do is a spell, it's a ritual, it's a magical object, and I feel like the, the divine intervention of my Oma and Edward Potra just kind of set me on that track almost immediately. So, yeah. I love that intersection. I love that intersection so much. And I've, I've seen some of your work. 

You made a short film that, um, you shared with us and it's amazing. Um, with your permission, we'll put it in the show notes for this episode. And, so you're like a multimedia artist. So how do you choose from moment to moment, from piece to piece, like what, how the message is going to materialize? Um, yeah, for me, the medium is always secondary to what I want to do. 

to communicate as an artist. So I like to work with the medium that's going to work the best. I also love working in, um, in abandoned properties, uh, if quote unquote properties. I, I love challenging the idea of ownership and real estate through that colonial lens that we've grown up with, using ritual and witchcraft to, to subvert that. 

So, um, if I'm maybe thinking about that, perhaps an abandoned house is where I want to go to, but um, if I'm making more personal work about, um, my own journey as a witch, um, a lot of the time I really do love using paint for that. It's very meditative and, um, lots of sigils and symbols find their way into it, which is a lot of fun. 

Thank you so much, Jess. Ew. So exciting. Ashley, tell us about your relationship to art and artists and your identity and your politics. All of the above, right? And all of the above. Um, so I actually have a bit of a love letter to art and artists from a bit of a non artist or, I don't know, someone trying to come into artfulness, if that's a word. 

Um, I grew up in a pretty art hostile environment. Um, hyper conservatism, You know, pretty much all the jazz that you think of and really a childhood that didn't value art and that considered the highest form of education to somehow be above art. And so having a childhood kind of devoid of that, uh, definitely made me, uh, Look more towards nature, you know, it is when you have an environment around you. 

There's no way to discredit art when it's Something you walk through every day and especially as a kid, you know art, you know beauty And it has really been the art absence of art that made art become more noticeable as I grew up, and the things that would catch my eyes, and realizing that the only quote unquote good art isn't just the art that contributes to patriarchy under capitalism, but is the exact opposite of that. 

And, you know, I I still often feel like artists speak a language that I don't fully understand still. I don't know a lot of names. I don't know a lot of terms. I know what I like and what I think looks pretty, um, but my wife, bless her, has really brought me into this world of understanding art and, and coming to just, Appreciate it. 

And I want to thank all artists out there because, you know, it's never too late to start appreciating art and your art doesn't go unseen and unappreciated. And even someone who grew up truly believing arts should be defunded. And has completely flipped that script to being like, holy guacamole, no, this is so fucking important. 

Um, and I'm now the big advocate where we, you know, for our house, we'll only buy small local artisans and support that way. And my wife banned any sort of mass produced art from the house and I'm so appreciative for that. Um, so yeah, I just wanted to give that little love letter because it really means a lot. 

Like, fuck yeah to all of that. Like, a hundred thousand percent. And I'm so happy that you, like, reminded us that we need to, in our minds, like, separate the business of art from art. you know, the professionalization, and we'll get way more into this when we come around to talking about music, the professionalization 

of art making, um, where again, Is it good, or not good? Is it good enough to make money? Is it, it can just be something that we just do, and it doesn't have to be quote unquote good enough at all, and you don't have to be good at it to enjoy the process. I mean, again, I'll return to my, like, squiggly lines and blobs of color that brought me so much joy. 

And my dog painting that brought me stress and sorrow when it wasn't like, you know, a hyper realistic photographic painting in 20 minutes. You know what I mean? So thank you, Ashley, again, for like reminding us that, that, you know, conservatism and capitalism, like, are threatened by art. So we have to They are. 

We have to question, like, how, why and how is this so important that these powers that be are threatened by it? Thank you so much, Ashley. Marissa, what do you do? Tell me about art in your life. Hello. Okay. I have two things. One is a very short poem by Naomi Shihab Nye that I thought of when you started this, uh, by talking about the dog. 

It's called How to Paint a Donkey. She said the head was too large, the hooves too small. I could clean my paintbrush, but I couldn't get rid of that voice. While they watched, I crumpled him, let his blue body stain my hand, and I cried when he hit the can. She smiled. I could try again. Maybe this is what I unfold in the dark. 

Deciding for the rest of my life. That donkey was just the right size. Oh my god, et cetera! I know! That poem kills me every time. Tell me the name of the poet again. 

Naomi Shehab Nye. And I see that you have it like on a piece of paper with like a small illustration. Yes, this, I copied this from a book that it was printed in and there is a small illustration of a donkey in a trash can. Like a watercolor. It's so beautiful. Can you please send this to me? Can you take a picture? 

Absolutely. Thank you so much. This will come to you. Um, and I think Connected to that, I will just note my own tortured relationship to art because I feel like as much as like I need it and it's with me, I often feel this pressure that, uh, if it's not completely new, don't bother. If it's not innovative, don't bother. 

If it's not moving the culture, don't bother. If you don't have like a new genre defying way of talking about your problem, don't bother. Um, And then, and then I don't, I don't do anything. But lately I've been getting really into crochet, um, so like the craft part of art, which is often not considered art, because it's like a repetitious thing of like, because it's, because it's feminized. 

Also feminized. Yeah. Um, but I have, uh, Portuguese ancestry from half of my family. And this summer when I was in Portugal, which is their festival season, um, they, they do all these traditional songs and dances. And I saw a performance where In the back, there's all the musicians playing the song and singing the songs. 

Then there's the dancers doing the dance. And then on two corners of the stage, they had a tiny little old woman just crocheting, just standing there crocheting for like 15 minutes. She didn't speak. She didn't interact with the dancers. She was just crocheting lace right there on the stage. Like total performance art. 

Absolutely. And so I was like, fine, I'm going to get into it. I just finished this pillow today. I will describe it for everybody. This is, uh, a series of granny squares, which is a very traditional crochet model. Uh, and usually it's a simple square with like a little. burst in the middle. It's like a circle and then it radiates out. 

But at the middle of these granny squares, there is a skull. So it's traditional, but it's spooky. And I have, there's nine of them, and they are bright pink and teal, which are also not traditional crochet colors. So I'm Taking my tradition and making it a little bit art and trying to stay with it and trying to remind myself it doesn't have to be new. 

It doesn't have to be innovative. You can just do it and enjoy it. It just has to be honest. I think, you know, that's, that's what I, what I love about art is when I can feel the honesty of it. And that pillow was so delightful. I'm also going to need a photograph pillow. Thank you, Lisa. Hi, I'm I stood up to talk. 

Um, so I'm thinking about art in different ways sometimes because I have, no, not professional, but I did a degree, a bachelor of fine arts. And during the course of that degree, the thing that is art, like exploded into something bigger than you can really ever comprehend, but then also got like really whittled down into the kinds of things that fit in a gallery and meet the criteria for professional contemporary art. 

Um, And I, I don't know, I, um, I attended what was at the time the Alberta College for Art and Design, but now it's AU Arts. They've rebranded, and they were in this like deep rebranding thing when I was there. And I, really started responding to the fact that the college was doing this weird commercialization of us as art students. 

We were a commodity that was cool and they were selling us to, um, investors. So that was gross. And then in the process, I developed what has been my art project ever since, which is the LS Benchop Institute for the Preservation and Veneration of Imagination and Nostalgia. And it is this umbrella. That lives, uh, and organizes all of the things that I do. 

And, um, well, my battery's dying, um, with the tool that is the Institute, like everything I do in my daily life, any gesture I make in my yard outside or in my home is art is a way. Like I get to rebrand it just the way they were rebranding us. Um, so I, yeah, now I live in. Art, it's kind of the whole thing all the time, but I do also collect things and make installations and stuff like that. 

That's more like gallery art. But really, I was, um. provoked into just like, no, that's bologna, like, so it is bologna. Yeah. So, um, one of the things that I have going in my home as an art project, we live in a little old trailer that used to be my husband's grandmother's home. And, um, it's, you know, in need of repair as all little old homes are. 

So wherever we can't really put it. fix the thing right off the bat. I used Kelly Green duct tape to like fix it temporarily. And, um, it is now like throughout the household, there's all kinds of pieces of Kelly Green duct tape all over the place. That's kind of like, I don't know, palimpsestic art, like would put the patch over the patch, you know, that idea. 

Um, yeah, so I, uh, think about it in, I think it's a Charles Bukowski quote, and I'm not certain, but I think that's where it comes from, where he talks about, like, go into the arts. You won't necessarily make a living, but you will learn how to make a life. And that, to me, is like, that's kind of what we're after. 

You reminded me of, um, Ryan Happington, the choreographer. He's most famous for, like, choreographing Sia, like, Chandelier, and Elastic Heart, and also the OA. Um, his contention is that dance is just, like, an extension of the movements that we're already doing. And I think that that, that's, that's what your institute is all about, right? 

Like, that art, art is just, like, the flourishing of. of our lives and the things that we're already doing in our lives. And if we recognize it as art, then who's to say we're wrong? That is art, right? Well, I'm gonna throw the mic to Vanessa, but before, like, I, before I do, I just want to say, like, every day, almost, I thank, um, Marcel Duchamp for hanging a urinal on the wall of a gallery and forcing every single fucking one of us to ask what is art, what constitutes art, you know? 

Anyway. Thank you so much. Can I just take one more second to say my husband who I met at art school and who with whom I have created a whole life and a family he's like art in and of itself at the Marcel Duchamp. So yeah, I'll ask Vanessa to unmute. And in the meantime, if you if you're not familiar, um, Marcel Duchamp was an artist who took an actual urinal. 

He didn't make it. He didn't craft it out of papier mâché. He took an actual urinal, signed it not with his name, but with someone else's, a made up name, and hung it on the wall in the gallery, and dared us all, dared us all to tell him that it wasn't art. Anyway, does that resonate with you, Vanessa? Yeah, I, uh, hmm. 

Definitely. What is art? What is the question? Obviously, I, you know, I didn't love that piece, but that was just me. Um, I'm, I'm going to try this. Yeah, you don't have to love it, but you do have to think about it. It's a great question. And, um, and, and actually a good segue. I think it was Michelle who was also a geologist. 

I, my undergraduate degree was in geology. And when she started talking about the thin sections, which I have made and the polarized, um, Light microscopes. I'm like, I have my thesis, so I don't know if this is going to show up because this is in the days of when, like, before, like, I used a computer and it was a typewriter, but these are actual photos that so the top one, I don't know how this is going to render, but the top one is just regular. 

They're playing late and the bottom one is how the same thin sections, the same minerals look under polarized light. And it's not as dramatically beautiful as it is when you're looking through it. This like moment kind of snapshot, but, um, labradorite is a mineral. Many witches will know and under polarized light. 

It's stunning. And, um, I spent hundreds of hours looking at thin sections in my senior year for my metamorphic petrology thesis to the point where I would close my eyes at night and I would see the images on the back of my eyelids. But it's funny, I didn't really think of it as art. Until she reminded me of that. 

And I just, it was addictive. I, I love, I mean, really, the reason I got into geology was I just liked sparkly minerals. And then when I could see them under the polarized light, I just was, it's like a drug. But, but, um, I, I'm, I've been here kind of listening and nodding and thinking and drawing. And, and, um, but I love the question about, Because I, when I was getting ready to come to this tonight, I was like, God, you know, really the art that I do right now, it's my garden. 

And I'm really excited about, um, as I've been getting into witchcraft over really only the last three or four months, like thinking, I'm, I'm newly inspired in how I'm arranging my garden. I was already planting a lot of sages and lavenders and thyme and herbs and, you know, A lot of pollinator plants and native plants, but now I'm thinking about how to make the space like I have a little space that I already Almost a year ago can started to construct and I didn't really see what it was going to be and I'm like, Oh, that's my outdoor ritual space like now I know what it was asking of me. 

So, I'm so excited about that and so I'm like more energized to get out there in the rain and try to take care of it and. Um, so that, that's really kind of my current art, but as I've been listening to everybody, I'm like, you know, I, I, even with the rheumatoid arthritis that I've had since I was a toddler and my first surgery, when I was five, I was a dancer and I would have been a dancer had it not been for that disease. 

I've, that is, that is the place where I feel the most joy. I couldn't go to a dance performance for 30 years without having tears. It's just streaming down. on my face after I quit, but I did make it to point shoes and I did some African dancing in college. Thank you so much, Vanessa. And thank you and Satleen for bringing plants into the conversation. 

But I loved what Rachel, Rachel, what you said in the chat about You love to touch art, and that's why you want to make art that people can touch. Can you talk to us a little bit about that? Sure. I'm not going to read out loud the other thing that I wrote in the chat about touching art. Um, yeah. I also, when I go to galleries or museums, have to walk around clasping my hands behind my back or in my pockets because I want to touch all of the art all of the time. 

Like I don't have synesthesia, but I want to taste the art sometimes. Like, I want to experience it with all the senses I possibly can, but you are not allowed to. So, um, my art is almost always inherently you're allowed to touch it. I don't put a sign up and I don't tell people because I do know that like a million greasy hands will ruin things. 

But when I'm at a gallery where my art is up and people are looking, I'm like, you can touch it if you want to. So, um, I brought my most recent piece that, um, has been sitting for two years waiting to be finished. And I finished it last week because there's nothing like a Good, thank you. There's nothing like a good deadline. 

Um, it was a commission for a friend. However, there is, uh, the Hill said museum, which is another local museum here in Hartford county. Connecticut is one of my favorite museums. I got to work there for two years in the research library with one of my, uh, vocational counseling clients before, uh, and they're have it. 

They built a new, they built a gallery onto the museum and they're having the 1st juried show ever. And it's modern Monet. And I was like, oh, I have to finish this piece. I was working on and if I don't get in, I'm going to be really bummed because if this doesn't scream modern Monet. Don't know what does it's stunning. 

Can you give us a visual description, please? It's so Oh, look at how long. Oh, I want I want to touch it. Right? Well come to Connecticut. Um, so it's a hand woven piece on a I don't remember how big it is probably 12 inch diameter embroidery hoop. Uh, and it's all different, like spring greens and olive greens and periwinkles and vibrant pale purples. 

Um, there's yarn, there's art yarn, there's, um, handspun from, uh, one of my favorite crafters on the internet who goes by Girl with a Sword. Uh, on Instagram, uh, there's Upcycled Fabrics, and then the person that I made this for, um, is a gem jewelry, uh, artist, and, uh, so we picked this stone, which doesn't look like a turquoise to me, but, but is this carved turquoise to hit, um, to sit in. 

So it's a circle with an off centered negative space circle where nothing is woven in. And this carved, uh, turquoise giant bead is, uh, suspended. And then it has a very long fringe of like three feet long or so of all the materials that are in it, that means below it. And it's very lush and dense, put so much in that it like jammed up in on itself. 

There's so many layers in it. Oh, and it has a couple, a couple of little silk flowers that I put in. Will you send me a picture of it? Yes, I will. It's so beautiful. Thank you. I'm very proud of having finished it, um, but I'm also very pleased with it. But my background is, I, I considered myself an artist since I was little. 

Um, I have a very creative family. I have a very expansive idea of what is art, kind of like the urinal on the wall. Um, and I find all the homemaking, uh, tasks are very creative. I think that people who cook are artists. I think that people that decorate their house, even if they're not decorators, are artists. 

I had a friend once who was like, I don't have an altar. And I was like, your entire house is made out of altars. Like you decorate in altars. Um, uh, my background, um, as an adult is in expressive arts therapy. So I am equally, if not more so about the, um, process as I am about the end product. So, and then this is the piece I've been working on based on the prompt. 

Embroidery, but I'm tacking down. I don't know if it'll show. The light's not hitting it. Tacking down yarn with embroidery floss. Um, very fluid and spirally. Um, that's what it feels like to be a witch. I did that. I did that. That's what it feels like to be a witch too. I'm going to show it since you showed yours. 

Yeah, I was actually, let's take the spotlights off. Yeah. And I want to invite everyone who was making or working on something tonight. Thank you. Um, I got you. And. Hold up. Um, oh so many of you are holding stuff up. These are amazing. Oh my goodness, TJ Lorraine Harmony, oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Oh Did you did you all ever see she went viral? 

It was this like old lady who painted with sponges And so she'd put a little bit of like color that she'd go, Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. I just realized I've turned into her. Excited. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. They're all amazing. And again, I beseech all of you who made something tonight or have art that you like just want to like share. 

Yeah, or anything that speaks to the question, right? Right. What does it feel like to be a witch? Yeah. Maybe you have art in your house that answers that for you. Look at Linda's poppet. Thank you all so, so very, very, very much for coming tonight. Um, again, I want to shout out Faith Ringgold and Peter Max. 

and Michelle Basquiat, and David Lynch, and John Waters, and Vivian Westwood, and Ryan Heffington, and I could literally just name names, and name names, and name names of people who influenced the way I saw the world. The world. How I existed in the world. How I visualize an idea. Um, and thank you all for helping me in how I see the world. 

How I visualize ideas. How I go forth into the universe. And blessed fucking be. Blessed fucking be, guys. Bless the fucking fucking be the fucking bee. The fucking bee. Bless the fucking be. Bye. Make some art . Bye. You must be a witch. If you wanna support the Missing Witches project, join the coven. Find out how@missingwitches.com.

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