Reflections On Being a Teaching Artist

Creative Hands @ Penland
Clay as Process class at Penland School of Crafts, Summer

As difficult as it can be to attend a university, teaching at one is harder, especially working as an adjunct. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m blessed with a dream job teaching at a small Christian school nestled around a beautiful park. I drive through rural Eastern North Carolina to Squirrel Park beside Lake Vann. I love Chowan and I adore my learners. I’m an adjunct, who is content to be a contract, teaching artist. I’m thankful to God for this opportunity, for each breath and each new day.

As I finish this semester, I’m reminded that it’s been seven years, almost to the day, since I was confirmed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sylva, NC. Seven years since I’ve been standing on the prayers of Miss Lucy and The Moses of the Mountains, Bishop Morgan. This adventure and my connection to Penland School of Crafts started in the summer of 1990 but was revealed by the Holy Spirit and manifested itself in my life during the Bishop’s Homily during Confirmation. I’m more amazed than anyone with the transformation in my life by God’s creative hands. On my own, it’s no way I can drive two hours to and from Chowan to teach four courses to 85 learners, manage my mother’s declining health, make new art and participate in a Triangle Art Show. None of this is Carola! This is all Divine Mercy!

Crying The Blues Away

Clay and Cloth as sculpture
Hand built clay with indigo dyed 100% cotton cloth as sculpture

After crying for twenty hours because I’m going to be an orphan soon, I surrender all. I’m at the end of my bloodline because I’m dirt and river water. I’m Toisnoit Skaru:re to Contentnea Creek, a Gatekeepers off-spring that hid in plain sight for 300 years. I’m this black earth where people from Fort Neyuheru:ke hid in Toisnoit Swamp with turtles. The place where X marks the spot where runners went out in all directions to carry the word of our birthing center being burned alive described as our “Big Trouble Come to the People – Scatter!”

Blues Traveler
Clay & Cloth as Sculpture

Bits and pieces of our story got told to me by Howell Woodard, Bud Harris and Paul Randolph. Even as a young child I listened to the stories. From Mat Randolph and her Mother, Mary, I learned creative hands and silent stillness. Yes, I’m going to be an orphan soon but it’s part of this journey. “We have to take the bitter with the sweet!” It’s just the way of things! It’s not personal, it just is. Life isn’t fair! We aren’t all equal. I’m having to walk out all of my fears in life with nothing and no body but Jesus. It’s about submission to God’s will for my life.

I’ve lived to see The People come home and to dance with them on Homeland. The Triune God protected a great number of Algonquin people in Eastern and Coastal Virginia and Carolina. At 65 looking backward on my Earth Walk, I’ve witnessed God’s Glory, when the Holy Spirit shows up and shows off! Where the Holy Spirit is so strong that it knocks you down on the floor. So, I sojourn back and forth over the ancient Algonquin Trails from Toisnoit to Chowanook back to Toisnoit. I’m a Blues Traveler, and Indian woman riding out the Indigo Blues!

Jesus Is My One & Only BFF

At last I can say, “I surrender all!” I’m my mother’s only child. Most of my adult life has been lived alone, no children, never pregnant and never legal married. My deepest desire has always been to get married and have a family of my own. Well, it never happened! Over the years, my alone-ness hardened by heart and I became angry and resentful about the circumstances of my birth. To say my birth family is dysfunctional is being kind. However, at 65 years old looking and reflecting backwards, I’m beginning to understand the wisdom of God’s plan for my life. I understand enough to witness that God’s plan for my life is better than any plan I could ever come up with on my own.

Self Photo for Dear World
My Skin as a Canvas

God’s plan is for me to be an artist and writer. God’s plan is for me to make color on cloth and to share stories and reflections to lift up Algonquin culture in the Coastal Plains along the eastern seaboard of North America. I’m the last in my bloodline. I’m the seventh generation from when the “Big Troubles” came, the sacking, rape and murder at Fort Neyuheru:ke in present day Snow Hill. Bud Harris say, “When the big troubles came the people scattered. Runners carried the word and the people scattered every which way. Whole lodges of people, every body, we all scattered.”

It’s amazing how God moves on our behalf. Jesus saves and protects me from myself. I have no illusions about me. Making art requires letting go of self and being authentic. Hans Hoffman said that creating with color requires “searching for the real.” I’m a sinner! I’ll always be a sinner, condemned and guilty. Thanks be to the resurrected Jesus and His gift of sanctification that redeems lost souls. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is always with me. The Triune God is a comfort, a protector, the beginning and the end, a redeemer, the “True Vine,” a shepherd, the only light in the dark, the source of creative hands and my one and only BFF.

Thanksgiving Day::Reflections

Thanksgiving Day 11.26.2015
The World is at war! Instigators are trying to bring about Armageddon. Locally, people seem angry and resentful. The land is saturated with exploitation. The world treats the land like it treats cultural others. And yet, God guides me to and from Toisnot/Contentnea to Chowanook beside Lake Vann to share learning with 85 learners.

photo of flowers
Think Process ~ Not Product

God’s Journey is amazing! All of my circumstances are God ordained. I’m walking out sanctification from a Resurrected Redeemer. I’m a guilty sinner broken by the circumstances of longing for love. Jesus is wiping away my longing by giving me a task. A task for which I was born and created. Looking backwards from 65, it all makes perfect sense. God’s plan for my life is better than any plan I could possibly come up with on my own. I surrender all to Jesus! I’m alone but the Holy Spirit is always with me. He protects me with a circle of fire from my own foolishness. I’m abundantly blessed to share mark making, color studies and art history with others.

 Dear World! I pray everyone, every where can experience moments of peace and calm inside themselves. Let the world be blessed in contentment from Divine Mercy.