Tuesday
Jul172018

Hozh├│

It is dawn
The sun conquering the sky
and my grandmother and I
are singing prayers to the horizon.

This morning she is
teaching me the meaning
of hozhó.

Although there is no direct
translation from Diné Bizaad
(the Navajo language)
into English
every living being knows
what hozhó means.

For hozhó is
every drop of rain.
It is every eyelash.
Every leaf on every tree.
Every feather on the bluebird's wing.

Hozhó is undeniable beauty.

It is every breath we give to the trees.
And every breath they give us in return.

Hozhó is reciprocity.
And my grandmother knows this well
for she speaks a language that
grew out of the desert floors
like red stone monoliths.

A language like arms
out of the earth
reaching into the sky,
praising creation for all
of its brilliance.

Hozhó is remembering that we are a part
of this brilliance.

It is finally accepting that
(yes)
you are a sacred song that brings the Diyin Diné'é
(the gods)
to their knees in an almost
unbearable ecstasy.

Hozhó is re-membering our own beauty.

And my grandmother knows this well
for she speaks the language of a
Lók'aa' ch'égai snowsstorm.

She speaks the language
of hooves hitting the dirt
for she was a midwife and would
gallop to the women in labor.

She is fluent in the language
of suffering mothers;
fluent in the language of
joyful mothers;
fluent in the language
of handing a glowing newborn
to its creator.

Hozhó is an experience.

But it is not something
you can experience
alone.

the eagles tell us

as they lock talons
in the stratosphere
and fall to the earth as one.

Hozhó is inter-beauty.

And my grandmother knows this well
for she speaks the language of the Male Rain
which shoots Lightening Boys through the sky,
pummels the Green Corn Children
and huddles the horses against cliff sides in the
early afternoon.

She also speaks the language of the Female Rain
which sends the scent of dust and sage
into our hoghans
and casts rainbows in the sky.

Us Diné, we know what hozhó means!

And deep down I think we know what hozhó
does not mean.
Like the days we walk in sadness.
Like the days we live for money.
Like the days we live for fame.

Like the day the conquistadors came,
climbed down from their horses
and asked us
if they could buy
the mountains.

We knew this was not hozhó
because we knew
you could not own a mountain.

But we knew we could make it hozhó once again.

So we took their silver swords
and we took their silver
coins
and we melted them
with fire and buffalo hide bellows
and recast them into beautiful
squash blossom necklaces
and placed it around their necks.

We took the silver helmets
straight off their heads
and transformed it into
a fearless beauty.

We made jewelry:

Hozhó is the prayer that carries us
through genocide and disease.

It is the prayer that will carry us through
global warming;
through this global fear
that dances like a shadow
in our minds.

This morning my grandmother is
teaching me something important.
She is teaching me that the
easiest (and most elegant) way
to defeat an army of hatred
is to sing to it beautiful songs

until it falls to its knees

and surrenders.

'It will do this,' she says, 'because it has finally
found a sweeter fire than revenge.
It has found Heaven.

It has found Hozhó.'

And so my grandmother is talking
to the colors of the sky at dawn
and she is saying:
hózhónáházdlii'
hózhónáházdlii'
hózhónáházdlii'
(beauty is restored again...)

It is dawn my friends.

Wake up.

The night

is over.

-Lyla June Johnston.

from the book, Spiritual Ecology.

Thursday
Apr052018

Feather

Feather: Colaptes Aurastus


"ATTENTION," A VOICE BEGAN TO CALL, AND IT WAS AS THOUGH an oboe had suddenly become articulate.  "Attention," it repeated in the same high, nasal monotone.  "Attention."
-Aldous Huxley, Island

I lost my keys. The car key, house keys, mailbox key, all on a clear plastic stretchy- cord that had been hanging from my wrist like a clunky bracelet.  I was walking in the woods with my puppy, Belle, when I noticed the all important keys were missing.   Just when we had started our walk, I heard a woodpecker, tap tap tapping on a tree.   Later, I thought I heard the same distinct sound above my head when I noted with a shock, that the keys were no longer around my wrist.

A terrible sinking feeling passed through me as I realized we had been walking a long time, two hours perhaps, and I had no idea where I dropped them.  Everywhere underfoot, crunchy dry leaves and dusty earthen paths, much the same coloration as the gold and silver-toned metal keys.  It seemed impossible to find them.   I thought, "maybe I dropped them when I took off my sweater and tied it around my waist, but where was that?”  Talking to myself, "just maybe if I go back and retrace my steps, I will find them."   Each step back seems to bring up more dread, impatience and fear.  "How will I get out of this mess?" Cell phone locked in vehicle.  Feet hot and tired.  Thirsty.   I become increasingly agitated, but a small clear voice of intuition tells me twice to go back toward the sound of the woodpecker.

This is a story in two parts and I am telling it a little out of sequence. The day prior, I met a young man visiting New Mexico on a spiritual quest.  He was spending a night at the end of his trip with my friend who co-parents Belle, our shared puppy.   Belle lives with my friend full time and I get to visit her each afternoon.  That day Belle and I went for a walk just after meeting this young man, Kyle, to a place along a clear ditch.  When we came to my favorite spot, I looked down and there was a beautiful feather, a flicker feather, at my feet.  Colaptes Aurastus is named for the brilliant flash of coloring under it's wings and tail feathers. I made earrings from their magical feathers a couple years ago and then immediately lost one, so I was grateful to find this one, so similar, a near match, to the feather that flew off my ear.   Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw it bright on the ground. I picked it up and turned it over and then carefully put it into the breast pocket of my coat, where it would be protected while we walked.

Flickers live across America, yellow shafted in the north and east and bright orange/red in the southwest. Common along the river and ditches here, this winter I watched one perched on a branch at a close vantage point.  They have a bib of dark feathers, like a necklace, just below the throat and a breast almost polka-dotted with black and white feathers, a dashing red brushstroke under their black round eye. Very handsome birds. 

     I feel certain that all of life is consciousness and that we only have to recognize that mysterious wonder, to be open to receive.  Communication is happening between all aspects of nature-humans, animals, plants-all the time.  The more I connect on this level of unity, the more I find it to be true. 

When we returned that afternoon to my friend's property, Kyle was resting in a hammock, reading a book by Aldous Huxley, Island.  There is an awesome illustration of a bird on the cover of the book, but I didn't catch that synchronicity at first.  We chatted a bit and I shared that I have been working on a series of paintings for several years of specific birds, bird wings and bird feathers. He said, "Oh, let me show you a feather I found ..."   Somehow, I knew in that moment, that he was about to show me a flicker feather. Indeed, he pulled out the same exact species feather from between the pages of Huxley’s final book, a story coincidently, about a place of utopia.

His feather was the same length, with the same striking black and orange pattern as the one I had just found.  I showed him my feather and we compared them. Both were black on one side, except for the shaft and orange on the other with a thin quill, a shock of orange almost neon, running through the center. His was a right wing feather and mine, a pointed tail feather.

The next day, when I lost my keys, it was the same type of woodpecker, the northern flicker, who called to my attention with it's drumming-like sound.  "Go to the area where you noticed the keys missing from your wrist..."   So I turned around for the second time, unsure and feet dragging, calling Belle along, we walked to the area where we originally entered and where I first heard the woodpecker drumming.  With very little effort, I found the keys laying in dry leaves, near a crumbled old can, I had noticed earlier. The current keys to opening my all important doors, were in hand. It would be an understatement to say, all my anxiety lifted at the sight of them.

The keys in the leaves had the look of something real, for sure, very real, indispensable to getting into my vehicle, that I very much identified with as more than metaphor.  Witnessing the interconnectedness of everything was further underlined for me, with the momentary taste of utopia, when everything worked out perfectly. As I consider all of this now, I am aware of “key” as something else, having to do with the way, the path, as in the key to the mystery.  Or “key” meaning someone pivotal, as in an individual of significance. I am turning the key, turning around these metaphors in my mind as a way to appreciate, to deepen this experience on even more levels.  I imagine it will be with me for a long time to come, I can’t resist saying, this opens new doors of perception.

Wednesday
Jan172018

A Confession

One intelligence flows through all creatures, but as it is channeled it is focused in many different ways through the various dimensional levels, like high-voltage current moving through a series of step-down transformers.  - Ken Carey


At first, I cannot believe my eyes as I catch a glimpse of a large bird in the sky.  I am used to seeing lots of geese flying here in their customary V-clusters, some families of Sandhill cranes, also ducks and smaller birds love this spot along the clear ditch which runs parallel to the Rio Grande.   On this mid-January day with my new pup, Belle, grace soars above us.  We have been coming to this place everyday for a week or more in the afternoons to walk along a narrow path protected on the east side by residential fences.  Belle can be free to run off leash and play at the waters edge along the trailhead.  This afternoon, I feel inclined to walk farther. It is windy, cool and the sun is angled in the southern sky, a bright radiance against a cerulean blue hue. Just the right direction to light up the white head of the bird in the sky.

Above the clear ditch on the west side the landscape rises above my eye-line.  I can see bare-branched cottonwood trees moving with the wind as I catch sight of two floating forms.  Snow white head and tail, a black body, then another marvel, two eagles soaring above the tree tops.  Incredible, a pair of bald eagles! They seem to be completely liberated from gravity. A feeling of ecstasy rushes through my heart expanse as I watch them sail on the air in tandem. I have never seen a pair of eagles in flight before, it's a gift- rare and uplifting.  Their heads and tails appear to be bleached white against the ever so blue New Mexico sky, there can be no mistaking these magnificent creatures. 

Too quickly one recedes from my view, we turn around toward the other and follow it though it is soon gone swiftly out of sight as well.    I walk on in reverie, expanded by their presence, I can only imagine they must be a mated pair.  Afterward, I note a large round clump of matter in one of the cottonwood trees and speculate if that could possibly be their nest. Or maybe they are just passing through.  I am so grateful to have witnessed them and to Belle, for without her, I would likey not be out on this cool windy January day.  

Something I have been considering for over forty-five years came to a closure this week.  It’s conclusion and this sighting underlines it for me.  A few years ago, I sent an email letter to a professor who had a great impact on my life - for the positive- when I was in my freshman year of college.

I was just seventeen when I started at Kent State in Ohio and not too far from where I grew up in Cleveland.  But far enough away to feel that I was independent from what I perceived as too much control at home.  I was under the spell of the energy of the times, with everything that the late 1960s had brought including: sex, drugs and rock & roll. Never a particularily meaningful combination, it would not help that I was confused and yet oddly determined, disconnected from my sense of self and some how totally self-absorbed. I was elated to be away from home and pursuing art. Free.  And for a time, at least during the first semester, I was a fairly focused student.  William Harper was the professor for my first college level studio art class, a foundational art class.   I was coming in with a strong background in art from high school and throughout my preparatory years, I was engaged with art. Fortunately, in that era, the arts were given respect and support.  Professor Harper was a pivotal facilitator in my art education, as he made the suggestion that I apply to an art and design school, I did, and that absolutely changed my life.  


I looked Mr. Harper up online a few years ago and decided to write a thank you letter to him for how he had helped inform my world.  And also to hopefully start a dialogue of apology in regard to a project I created while I was in his visual studies class. When I did not receive a reply in short order, I forgot about it, figuring he either never got the email- maybe it was an old address- or he was not interested, busy, or perhaps I was just too late.   But this past week, three years later, I received a reply.  

I once killed a bird for art.  It was a beautiful blue parakeet which I purchased live, in a pet store in Kent for an art competition.  In 1972, I did not know this act of murder would continue to be a haunting theme for the rest of my life.  At the time, it seemed okay, I thought I was following directions.  In hindsight, of course, I can look at the bigger picture of my life: a childhood fraught with objectification gets projected onto the world, i.e. the small caged bird.  Emotional turmoil, a disturbing world of war and young men, my friends and peers, being sent off to that immoral war.  Four students killed at Kent State in 1970, by the Ohio National Guard, for protesting the Vietnam war. Nine more students injured.  It was a confusing time to be a teenager to say the least. Disharmony in the nation: an unpopular war, civil rights movements, womens rights all happening center stage on the news each night and in the streets each day with immense outrage between the generations. But all things considered, there is no doubt, my inner moral compass was off.

When Professor Harper gave the assignment for a competition in his studio art class, one on a list of requirements was "something that was once living."  Looking back, I am certain the idea was meant to inspire the use of something like a leaf, a tree branch, a dried flower or a found feather, bu not to cause cruelty. Unfortunately, I took it quite literally and though I could not face the act of killing the parakeet personally, a friend, Tony, did the deed for me, I take full and total responsibility.

I wrote about this piece last summer, in relationship to another artist’s work recently on view in an Albuquerque gallery, before I had heard back from Mr. Harper. (see below at   http://www.deborahgavel.com/blog/2017/8/22/bee-pastures-factory-farmed-insects-a-parakeet-and-a-solar-e.html)  My piece, an assemblage in the manner of the artist, Joseph Cornell, was constructed with a wooden cigar box I painted a  dark- blue glossy enamel and lined it with blue cotton velveteen, a remnant from a dress I wore to a high school prom. The metal prongs inside the box for holding cigars, I painted metallic gold and placed the dead parakeet between them.  I remember the piece clearly:   on the inside lid, mounted upside down, I glued a small classic 1950s image of Jesus, from Sunday school, about the size and shape of a credit card.  It seems obvious to me now that I was an angry adolescent. Inspite of that, the little coffin remained only a subconscious expression of my inner turmoil. 

The piece won the competition, however, when I was asked where I had acquired the parakeet, things changed dramatically.  Word got around school that I had killed a bird for art and someone I didn't know came up to me in the cafeteria and told me off.  Mute, I recall, I didn't know how to respond.   

But this week, five decades later, I made an apology to my former professor.  When I opened his email, three years after my initial letter of appreciation, I took the opportunity to write back to him about the parakeet  and my regrets. This time, he responded immediately that he absolutely remembered the incident, and the blue bird that was intended to be a pet.  He said, “the faculty was irate,” and that he thinks of the parakeet every time he sees an animal abuse story on the news.  Even now, those words cut to my heart.  Then he reminded me of the work of Damien Hirst, in particular a piece Hirst created using a specific shark, a Tiger Shark. When it started to deteriorate, his collector wanted to have it replaced, which led to a hunt off the coast of Queensland, Australia to kill another.  Here are a few notes found at Wikipedia on the history of the piece:

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living is an artwork created in 1991 by Damien Hirst, an English artist and a leading member of the "Young British Artists" (or YBA). It consists of a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine. It was originally commissioned in 1991 by Charles Saatchi, who sold it in 2004, to Steven A. Cohen for an undisclosed amount, widely reported to have been $8 million. However, the title of Don Thompson's book, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art, suggests a higher figure.
Owing to deterioration of the original 14-foot (4.3 m) tiger shark, it was replaced with a new specimen in 2006. It was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 2007 to 2010.[1]
It is considered the iconic work of British art in the 1990s,[2] and has become a symbol of Britart worldwide.[3]

Mr. Harper also wrote me about a piece of his own in which he had used an ivory chopstick-later replaced with a found animal bone- before it was bestowed to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.   

During the days that followed this email exchange. I imagined the assembled coffin I created, burning on a funerary pyre and with it, going up in smoke, my guilt. I don’t imagine I will ever forget that beautiful bird. I live now with a handsome yellow canary and I don’t take him for granted, his presence in my life has been a great joy. His intelligence and life force is astounding. When I see/hear him singing opera trills in his cage, as well as many wild birds, each one in their distinctions :  a Great Blue Heron I saw today, a speckle-chested woodpecker in a tree, a brilliant red Summer Tanager, or the recent spectacle of two eagles soaring, I am humbled.

For the past few years I have been painting portraits of specific birds, to honor them and their gifted wings with this story in the background of my consciousness.  I cannot lay judgement on Damien Hirst for his work but I know where I stand with my own.  And hopefully, I have repaid the karma.



Notes, 1-3 from a Wikipedia article on Damien Hirst’s piece:
Smith, Roberta (16 October 2007). "Just When You Thought It Was Safe". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2007.

Brooks, Richard. "Hirst's shark is sold to America", The Sunday Times, 16 January 2005. Retrieved 14 October 2008.

Davies, Serena. "Why painting is back in the frame", The Daily Telegraph, 8 January 2005. Retrieved 27

Friday
Nov032017

In the Forever Wilderness of Mother

“Every human death takes with it an entire and unrepeatable world, a whole realm of memories, dreams, reflections, beliefs and observations. “
-Susan Murphy
from Spiritual Ecology



My mother passed away two months ago.  I am still very much in an altered state of reality and I wonder if this is a common feeling that others have when that most significant person is gone from this world.   It is a blessing to have feelings of gratitude for the grace of her death. She had a swift ascension and I was fortunate to be at her side along with my brother and his family.  I feel fine most of the time but I know there is something profound unraveling that I have never experienced before.  Not in a negative way, rather an unwinding like thread on a spool that is stretching the length and breadth of our connection into a new territory, an uncharted place.

She was 99 years old and ready. One day she was really tired and the next day Ibrahim, one of the wonderful souls who worked with her in memory care, picked her up, because she could no longer stand, laid her down in her bed and she never rose again.   I have many of her photos around me now including one in a little blue enameled locket that I just put on a chain to wear around my neck, it falls to my heart.  She is smiling broadly in that tiny photo and I wonder where she was and what she was doing.  Maybe she was at the seaside in Baltimore, it looks to be taken around that time in her life in the 1940s.

On a farm in Iowa where she grew up, she told me how she would climb up into the hay loft and reach out onto a ledge and pull in a baby pigeon to hold.  She loved those pigeons and I imagine they may have been fond of her as well.   One day when she got home from school, her father and another man had shot them down off the ledge and she was crushed. I can recall that story as if it happened to me, my empathy for how she must have felt is so palpable. What she could not have known then was that there would be more pigeons to come in the future. Young birds and old birds: racing pigeons. The man she married, my father, his brother and their father, my grand-father, all raised homing pigeons.  I wonder if my own love of birds is connected to my parents? Could there be a genetic link?  Was I destined to paint feathers?

 In the days just after my mother’s death, I was texting a good friend to let her know what had transpired, and the words that slipped through my fingers about the place I had found myself in were, these: “...in this forever wilderness of mother.”   The phrase stayed with me and not long afterward, I felt the urge to investigate more about what that might mean.  How might our individual relationship to mother effect our relationship to mother earth?  


Wilderness by definition comes into our language through the word wild.  But that has connotations that are so removed from the way in which I understand wilderness.  In my etymological dictionary, I find “wild” to mean self-willed, violent, untamed, uncivilized, savage. The opposite of what I consider wilderness to be.  Hiking in the forest, is the soft place where my heart opens, where I generally feel most connected, safe, alive and nurtured.   In our so called civilized cities where there are high crime rates, poverty, homelessness, pollution of all kinds including industrial waste and noise from machinery of all shapes and sizes, there seems to be much more evidence of the etymological definition of wild. The annoying leaf blower outside my studio door, I am resisting listening to as I type, for example!  But no matter the romanticized notion that nature is some how apart from us, untamed and out of control, it seems collectively, we humans are frequently the beast, the one’s self-willed and violent.

How might our personal experience of mother help us to reflect and heal our collective experience of life on earth in the early 21st century?  Does the ecology of self in relationship to mother mirror humanity’s relationship to the great mother, to Mother Earth?  Our mother’s bodies are our bridge to experience life on earth.  A bridge to the earthly realm from the supreme place from which we come, the mystery we cannot recall prenatal. At conception we are immersed in liquid love, a place that is dark where our physical form begins to grow like a seedling underground. We emerge like micro-greens, tender into the world and dependent. We often spend our lives pushing and pulling against that dependence though some seem to make their life easier than others.

When I consider my own relationship to mother as an exchange of immense complexity, I know we as a collective are reflecting infinite complexities in relationship to the greater mother.  Consider the dependency of infancy, the struggles to individuate that come in adolescence, and later on for the lifetime as families grow and change, break apart, experience loss from the inside and out.  We are always involved in intricate states of being with our earth mother and Mother Earth.  Currently, we are in a stage of development on and with Mother Earth comparable to adolescence. Hopefully we are developing through puberty into adulthood in healthy ways though it is often hard to fathom that on the planet in 2017.   We live with her, on her body, but take her for granted. We are abusive and we lack respect; our hormones are raging and we are often out of control. We take and give little back.  We drop bombs, we explode, we are destructive. We dig up her vital oils and clear cut her forests. We lack gratitude.


But in the sacred space of ceremony, working with the medicine wheel, acknowledging our symbiotic connection to all that is, I have seen a new matrix, a pattern of rainbow colors, crystalline.  I hold a vision that we can shift to our better natures, that we can mature into clarity.  We are blessed when love abides; I know I was immensely blessed to feel unconditionally loved.  Not everyone feels that original love bond with their family of origin or with the collective family. Perhaps that is partly why we act out against Mother Nature. No doubt this is deeply rooted in fear, the feeling of lack.  Many feel only the separation from the feminine, or rather the illusion of separation from abundance on earth.


I miss my mother, and yet, I know she is within me.  I am a biology of connection to her and I am aware in a new way that she is a part of every cell in my breathing body. I see the shape of her fingernails in mine.  I recall how she placed her palm to my palm a couple days before she passed away.  It was a transmission, a great seal and one of our last gestures of exchange, a precious memory in this forever place without her.

Tuesday
Aug222017

Bee Pastures, Factory-farmed Insects, a Parakeet and a Solar Eclipse

August 22nd, the day after the total solar eclipse and I am thinking about the fleeting moments of wonder to see something so extraordinary in the heavens.  Because it was cloud-covered in Albuquerque, we could view it briefly with our own eyes. So remarkable to stop and pause and be in the rare alignment of the earth, the moon and the sun.

It's all connected: the sun to the plants, the bees, all of the insects in nature, the ability as a human to witness all that is on this planet.  Like the eclipse, everything is always shifting, being born, coming into view and fading away.  I am reading a book just gifted to me by a friend-a collection of John Muir's words. One essay, Bee Pastures, is rich with a sense of miles of wildflowers, bees and insects in Yosemite Valley, California in April 1868:

When California was wild, it was one sweet bee garden throughout its entire length, north and south, and all the way across from the snowy Sierra to the ocean.

When I first saw this central garden, the most extensive and regular of all the bee pastures of the State, it seemed all one sheet of plant gold, hazy and vanishing in the distance, distinct as a new map along the foot-hills at my feet.

Descending the eastern slopes of the Coast Range through beds of gilias and lupines, and around many a breezy hillock and bush-crowned headland, I at length waded out into the midst of it.  All the ground was covered, not with grass and green leaves, but with radiant corollas, about ankle-deep next the foot-hills, knee-deep or more five or six miles out.  Here was bahia, madia , madaria, burrielia, chrysopsis....various shades of yellow, blending finely with purples of clarkia, orthocarpus, and...delicate petals were drinking the vital sunbeams without giving back any sparkling glow.


Can you imagine?  One sweet bee garden. It is almost like a fairy-tale to read his words and imagine what he witnessed before the worst of the industrial revolution, ranching, mining, clear-cutting forests and factory farming turned so many beatific fields to dust.

An art show opened in Albuquerque this weekend, it's a show connected in theme to these topics and includes artists considering bees, botanicals, pollination, insects and other related subjects.   One piece has been in my thoughts because of the media the artist chose to use: insects, real insects farmed in China. They are bred for death for collectors who want perfect specimens. I once killed a bird for art.  A blue parakeet which I purchased live, in a pet store in Kent, Ohio.  I was in my freshman year of college in 1972, seventeen or eighteen and I did not know this act of murder would haunt me for the rest of my life.  At the time, it seemed okay.  My professor gave an assignment for a competition in a 3D studio art class.  One on a list of requirements was "something that was once living."  Looking back, I am certain the idea was meant to inspire the use of a leaf, a tree branch, a feather, etc. Unfortunately, I took this quite literally and though I could not quite face the act of killing the parakeet personally, a friend Tony did the deed for me, contract for hire; I take full and total responsibility.

My piece, an assemblage in the manner of the artist, Joseph Cornell, was constructed with a cigar box painted with blue-green enamel and lined with royal blue cotton velveteen from remnants of a dress I wore to a high school prom. The metal prongs inside the box for holding cigars, I painted gold and placed the dead parakeet between them.  I remember the piece clearly forty-six years later.   I mounted a small classic 1950s image of Jesus from Sunday school, upside down, on the inside lid of the box.  It seems obvious to me now that I was an angry teenager, but at the time, the little coffin remained a subconscious expression of my inner turmoil.  The piece won the competition, but when my professor asked where I got the parakeet, things changed dramatically.  Word got around school that I had killed a bird for art and someone I didn't know came up to me in the cafeteria and told me off.  I didn't know how to respond.   

Catching a quick glimpse of the insects mounted on the gallery wall Saturday night brought it back to me again.  The large scale piece, floor to ceiling, fifteen to twenty feet in height, is covered with carefully pinned insects and intersecting circular drawings. Each exquisite insect is about three inches long and larger than our local hummingbirds. The installation is quite stunning in visual terms, at first glance one thinks of a geometric fabric pattern or tile work.   The artist purchased the many, perhaps hundreds of insects through an online source in China, bred for the world of collectors, science labs, schools and evidently, for artists as well.  They are somehow mounted alive so their wings, feet and bodies are in precise positions before they are chloroformed to death. Chloroform or trichloromethane is a colorless, volatile liquid solvent used to render someone unconscious.  The fact that they were living consciousness seems somehow irrelevant to the artist's work, she claims to be making this work to help humans get over their fears of bugs.

It is a strange world we live in, still beyond my comprehension how one can coexist with Mother Nature as John Muir lived his life and see ecological unity and yet clearly so much of humanity is ever detached. Knowing, I did something similar helps me to be more compassionate but disappointed that we have not fully become realized to the miracles that abound around us in the macrocosm and the microcosm of this solar system.  I long for the bee pastures of Muir's vision and sanity restored. Extermination of insects whether they are chloroformed or killed by the slower process of pesticide use just doesn't make sense. When we awaken and raise our consciousness, we begin to realize the interconnectedness of all life: the sun, the moon, all of the several million species on earth.