The ways art can help

Kandinsky heard brassy trumpet tones when he painted the color yellow. He theorized that by mixing colors you can produce vibrational frequencies like the chords on a piano. That was his motivation when he painted a series of ten Compositions, each of which supposedly could evoke a spiritual resonance with the viewer. In other words each of these paintings can make us feel like we are listening to musical piece. I knew none of this when I first saw the following painting.

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Composition vii (1913): Wassily Kandinsky

This painting was on the walls of the clinic corridor the first time I was here. Kandinsky’s name sounded vaguely familiar. Back then modern art made me feel really insecure.Every modern abstract art piece made me feel two things, the first thought is kind of universal, 1. My cat can do this and then 2.I don’t understand this but I am going to pretend like I do because everyone else thinks this is cool. My feelings for composition vii were no different at first. But every time I walked past it I was stopping for a couple of seconds to catch a glimpse. Then one day one of the night nurses had to bring me a chair because I was apparently standing and staring at this painting for according to her Eine ewigkeit. Also, it would be nice to point out that it was a time when I had given up on getting better. So why was I looking at this my-cat-can-do painting at 3 am in the morning? The simplest answer would be that it made me feel something. And that something came after several long days of nothingness. And that meant a whole lot.

That was two years ago, over this time I have learned that Kandinsky had lived, learned and painted in Munich. Now I hold a yearly pass to the Lenbachhaus which holds many of his works. One of the interesting things I saw there is the preparatory works  Kandinsky made for this particular Composition, Composition vii. More than 30 paintings in watercolors and oil precede the final piece. So every brush stroke, every color in this painting is deliberately planned. Okay, my cat won’t be able to do that.

The good thing about an inpatient psychiatric clinic (a good one) is that it introduces you to a lot of things, medication, mindfulness, sports, arts, psychotherapy, cooking, gardening and the list goes on. This is saying something very important about mental health care in general. There is no one-cure-for-all when it comes to mental health. It might one of these things that helps you or it might be all of these things. For me it apparently is art.

I have come a long long way since the night I felt an emotional resonance with a painting that was made 104 years before I was born.

Now when I think back to that day I think I realize why it was so powerful. Back then people were telling me about how if I took up jogging or meditation or prayer, things might get better, but that painting showed me a glimpse of that ‘better’.

I cannot possibly end this without telling you about my favorite painting.

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Nighthawks (1942) : Edward Hopper

 

I have written here before about how I want to build a used bookstore+art salon that is open at 3am. This painting for me captures a lot of intangible complexities of that time. More on that later.

Thanks for all the emails and messages after reading my last post. It really meant a lot <3.

Love

Jo

A letter from the rehab

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I ended up at the rehab again. This is the third time in the past three years. Things have gotten a lot better during this time. My doctor told to think of this as a pause and not a step back. So that is what I am doing.

I wanted writing to be my thing. The thing that would help me through the blues but apparently it isn’t. Finishing that short paragraph took a lot of mental gymnastics.

There is a lady here who is perpetually talking, she just told me to ‘fuck off’ in German. It’s nothing personal, she says that to everyone.

I have been taking six showers a day because it helps, I know it is bad for the environment but I am not eating meat for now, so hope that evens it out?

We wake up at 6.45 everyday.

Someone plays the piano everyday.

There is a new print of the Nighthawks on the wall, it wasn’t here last year. I can look at all day.

I take therapy in German which is also different from the last two times.

They still call me by my last name which I hate.

Why do hospital food always suck?

We eat breakfast in silence, we talk a lot during lunch and eat dinner again in silence. I wonder why that is.

Sometimes we play board games.

My roommate has to pack her entire suitcase every time she leaves the room. She is scared I am going to steal her things. But she is nice to me otherwise.

She snores but I don’t mind.

It has been raining a lot.

I am rereading the harry potter series.

Is it different to be depressed when you have money? Yes, it is a lot better when you can buy books and art supplies (also, when you are not worried about how to make rent) So now I buy my share of happiness with money. That helps.

I don’t know what to tell my friends, they think I am on holidays.

My boss knows, he said to take my time. How do I always end up with kind people?

It would have been nice to have someone to hug.

I have been painting a lot, sometimes that is all I do. Is any of you on Instagram? you can find me as @galaxiesinamasonjar. I pretend to be funny there, that helps too

Love,

Jo

 

40 feel good activities for when you are broke

Walking barefoot in the sand.

Painting with your hands.

Writing a postcard to your favorite author/singer/actor.

Sending that postcard.

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Handwritten letters.

Learning the lyrics to your favorite song.

Singing along to your favorite song.

Singing along to your favorite song in the shower.

Long showers.

Putting up fairy lights in your room.

Making a collage of all your favorite photos.

Going to the explore page of Instagram.

 

Memorizing your favorite poem.

Going to the sneak previews.

Volunteering at a film festival.

Burning an incense.

Burning candles.

Thrift store shopping.

Picnic in the park by yourself.

Picnic in the park with your buddies.

Writing a letter to your crush that you would never dare send.

Find out if there is a Museum day in your city and going art watching.

Inviting a friend over for a movie night.

Trying a new hairstyle from a YouTube tutorial.

Free hugs.

Going crazy at an All-you-can-eat-buffet.

Putting on your favorite dress and watching Netflix.

Find out a part of your city you haven’t seen and be a tourist for a day.

Go on free walking tours.

Sky gazing.

Learning to identify one constellation other than the The big Dipper or Cassiopeia.

Watching the sunrise.

Watching the sunset.

Rereading your favorite book (hint:The harry potter series).

Photoshop yourself to a picture of a place that you really want to visit.

Reorganize your room.

Draw on your walls.

Drawing stars on your ceiling.

Building a water bottle rocket.

Starting a Youtube channel/ WordPress blog/ Instagram page for that skill you have been hiding all along.

 

 

 

 

A sketch of my favorite bookshop

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I have mentioned this bookstore and its co-owner L in many  of my previous posts. She is publishing her first book in December and to celebrate that fact I did a sketch. It was just supposed to be the store, but as overcomplicating things have become sort of second nature to me, it ended up looking like that!!

Tell me what you think?

Have a good Thursday y’all

Love

Jo

100thousand poets for change

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She has unbrushed messy hair pulled together hastily to a bun around the nape of her neck, thick black framed glasses, a black or grey wrinkly Kurti- with a voice that demands attention and awe, she is speaking into a microphone to a big group of people, or she is leading a protest along the streets spurting out phrases like ‘fuck patriarchy’ or imagine this, a facebook timeline that is constantly updated with snarky, well-researched opinionated posts about recent political events (here also the girl behind the words has unbrushed messy hair)- these are my images that come to my mind when I hear the word activist.

I am sure a lot of us would like to live in a post racist, post sexist, and global-warming-and-psychiatry-believing world, but a lot of us also feel helpless in the enormity of the task ahead to build the world like that. Also, with the myriad responsibilities that come with adulting, it is sometimes a bit difficult to pause and care about a war happening on the other side of the globe. So we  feign an indiffernce and go about living our lives . Its not that we don’t care but we don’t know where to start or what to do. We just wait for someone else with a messy bun and a microphone to lay the bricks for building a better world.

There is a quote that I came across sometime ago, it goes something like this “A writer is important to a war as a writer”. Does it mean it is to possible to fight a war without being in the  the battlefield? Fight may be not, but prevent? we can try our best. Art has the extraordinary capability of connecting people and transcending boundaries. There might be as many ways of activism as there are people.

100thousand poets for change is a movement spanning the globe that aims at the transformation towards a more sustainable world. They have a global event happening every year in September where poets, artists, musicians, are all invited to share their original or inspired works and to reach out to fellow artists locally and globally to form a community working towards peace and sustainabilty. I have been taking part in this event for the past two years in collaboration with a local bookstore. And this year the event date is September 24th Saturday.

This might be a starting place for a lot us struggling to find an answer to the questions, what can we do and where can we start?

How can you participate?

  • You can share a piece of music or writing or art of any form that symbolises the kind of change that you would like to see in this world.
  • Check out if there are already any events happening in your area. The website has an exhaustive lists of events all over the globe.
  • You can host an event locally.
  • You can host a web discussion group focusing on topics like sustainabilty and peace.
  • Start a hastag and encourage artists to join and share their works online.

You can find more prompts and ideas on the website http://100tpc.org/.

A brief description about the event we are participating in this year locally,

With climate change in the news more and more, we often tend to ignore the issue or to succumb to numbness or fear. What’s needed is accurate information and clear thinking. As a start, we can remember and celebrate our connections to the earth and our interactions with and dependence on the natural world.

We invite poets, prose writers, singers, musicians and dancers to join us on Saturday, September 24 to share their original writing and compositions inspired by or featuring the natural world and human connections to the earth.

I encourage all of my fellow bloggers to use this powerful platform we have, on saturday the 24th to write, be it about race, culture, mental health, feminism, freedom of speech…..It doesn’t have to be a long piece with intimidating jargons and statistics and numbers, we have enough of that already. Let us bring forward personal experiences and stories. If it is just two lines of an unfinished poem, so be it. If it makes it easier for you I am going to share a short story of a talking frog.

I will leave you with this beautiful quote,

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Jo