In Langscape Magazine Articles

Human Alchemy

April 21, 2022
Art that chooses to meet evil with beauty: A response to the discovery of mass graves of Indigenous residential school children.

WORDS AND ART   Rose Imai

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The first news stories came flooding into our consciousness
telling of the unmarked graves
of thousands of Native children
Children who had been forcibly taken from their homes
to government/church controlled residential schools
where they suffered physical, sexual, and psychological abuse
Many died

The entire universe took a breath and held it
stopping humanity in its tracks.

The anguished roar, the outcry, the denials, the politics, the grief, disbelief, moved with the power of a tsunami, breaking through whatever lay in its path
to reach into the human heart and break it open
the heart
beating inexorably
telling us:

We can no longer continue living
distracted, insensitive, desire-driven lives.

We can no longer continue living
distracted, insensitive, desire-driven lives
that shield us against the small and great violence
we visit on the Earth, ourselves,
and one another

“Evil” . . . a word we reach for
to separate ourselves, to create opposition
We use it reflexively
without examining, exploring or analyzing
unaware of the toxic potency
anger, opposition and venality generate

The more dynamic the opposition
the wilder the energy generated
so evil grows bloated and spreads like sparks through dry grass
while we, caught up in the battle,
grow exhausted, depleted, depressed

Physicists will tell you as a matter of fact
opposing forces hold one another in place
However
there is a sliver of space, a nanosecond that exists
within the storm of emotions, where choice lives
It is possible to slip into that space
allowing the storm to rage while you
explore below the layers of fear and
the social structures of western society to
look deeper than the crime

There is a sliver of space, a nanosecond that exists
within the storm of emotions, where choice lives.

The story of the abuse at residential schools
is the story of damaged humans
entrapped in frustrations so titillating
they followed them into a self-created abyss
taking our children with them

They met the Native children with ignorance
Their reverence was reserved for a concept of the sacred
that excluded the sacredness of those they saw as
Different foreign less
Their distorted beliefs bred a bleakness of spirit
that withered beauty, compassion, laughter
The perpetrators denied the incontrovertible truth displayed throughout the natural order:
all life has value, it must be so
to maintain and balance the whole

So what response is there to
revelations that sear images of brutality into our consciousness and fuel the hunger for vengeance?

Does responding with strategies that restore
harmony and balance sound tepid?
Don’t be misled
There is a tensile strength alive in words like “restorative” that implement the commitment
to propagate the conditions necessary for equality,
respect, reciprocity to come alive

By feeling the insistent thrum rising through the earth stimulating all the body’s senses, rhythms, blood, derma
we become coherent with the harmony that births all life
and come to know the good that is the core of our nature
Listen: the voice that speaks from there speaks softly
You must focus your being to hear it and
find the insights and discoveries available:
potential solutions, strategies that invite
an unfolding of knowledge, answers, wisdom, complementarities

Is the better alternative
to respond to horror with harsher attacks on the human spirit that move us ever further from
the shimmering stillness where the heart warms
and dissonance resolves into harmony?

Did you know
that the Yaqui People of the Sonoran Desert
when confronted with “evil”
throw flowers at it?
Imagine a society so clearly conscious
of the true nature of their humanity
that they configure a response to “evil” against which
there is no defense?

They recognize that “evil”
is made of our fears and mistaken beliefs
that there is nothing inherently evil in Nature
and evil collapses in the face of beauty:
beauty cannot provide the nourishment evil needs
only our venalities provide the fuel for it to grow and rule

Evil collapses in the face of beauty.

It is time to go
beyond dualities
and human wretchedness
and reclaim our birthright
to live with joy and skill and beauty
to create a reality where the smallest of choices
releases a flow of energy
endowed with kindness
To break free of the ego’s thrall
and renew the freedom to live a life that
reveals the nature of humans
to be as beautiful as nature herself
to renew who we
truly are, and what it is that we truly value

I see a purpose in the revelations of these graves
at this time:
it is the opportunity to restore our humanity
and in so doing
transform the consciousness of the world

This is not a government program
It is our individual duty, our obligation
to nurture the conditions
that allow life to continue

There is a strength and power resting dormant within us:
the capacity
to take the poison of the past
and transmute it into the medicine of a humane future
since before time our ancestors have taken
the fury and enfolded
it in harmony. It just takes commitment,
discipline, artfulness

There is a strength and power resting dormant within us:
the capacity
to take the poison of the past
and transmute it into the medicine of a humane future.

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About the Artwork

The ten paintings in The Children’s Series reflect the revelation and the responses
To the discovery of the mass graves. I was initially surprised that an occurrence of Such horror resulted in art that chooses to meet evil with beauty until I remembered the wonder, depth, and strength beauty carries.

The Four Horses of Healing are a guide to the Alchemical pathway to transmute energy into the medicine needed at this time.
The circle the horses create reflects the Medicine Wheel of the Plains tribes.

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The Children’s Series

residential school children

“First 215 Revealed,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. The spirits of 215 Native children rise from their mass grave to transform the world’s consciousness. Shock and horror announced by beauty. It is a critical mistake to turn only to vengeance. It is a mistake when “evil” shows itself to engage with it. The more one directly engages “evil,” the more energy it gains. Until it is bloated and spreading, and you are exhausted, depressed, and depleted.

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The Roar of Anguish

“The Roar of Anguish,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. We vent our feelings. Powerful feelings that can overwhelm. They maintain their authenticity until the moment the ego takes them to ride into battle, assuring a long, miserable process of disentanglement.

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Bringing in the Healing

“Bringing in the Healing,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. “Bringing in the healing” is accomplished with decisions that dignify and honor the reality that ALL is related. Healing occurs by using courage, discipline, humor and commitment to embody a matrix of universal values that nourish the conditions that allow all life to continue.

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Listen

“Listen,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. The bear that cries out to all to “listen.” Keep your heart and your senses tuned and open, listen to the soft voice within that guides to answers that are just and serves the whole.

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Transforming Poison into Medicine

“Transforming Poison into Medicine,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. The bear that roars, expelling mistrust, fear, anxiety, to allow us to reach for the actions and answers that heal and nurture—that transmute poison into medicine.

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The Four Horses of Healing
The Horse of the East

“The Horse of the East—Bringer of the Light,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. The Horse of the East lights the way, casts light on unexamined assumptions, lightens your heart.

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The Horse of the North

“The Horse of the North—The Healing Winds of Truth,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. The Horse of the North brings the cleansing winds of truth. Cold, clarifying, inescapable, bringing the strength to recognize deception, to honor the deeper truths that bind us in a relationship of equality and reciprocity.

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The Horse of the West

The Horse of the West—The Place of Transformation/Where Answers Live,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. The Horse of the West, the place of transformation. The answers are alive within us. To attempt to gather that knowledge in the world of form and chaos ends only in changes, not transformation.

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The Horse of the South

“The Horse of the South—The Place of New Beginnings/Purity,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. The Horse of the South brings the opportunity for new beginnings, to restore purity of mind and the innocence and trust of a child. A potent blend that stands with strength to dispel bitterness, anger, envy, vindictiveness.

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9 Precedes Transformation

“9 Precedes Transformation,” metallic watercolor on indigo rag paper. The number 9 is the last single digit before 10, which in some forms of numerology can be reduced to 1. This painting indicates the transformation that occurs when 9 becomes 10. Reducing it to 1 indicates the transformation into wholeness.

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Prints of the paintings are available at Rose Imai Art.
Proceeds support the creation of a Sculpture Garden of Native Science and Learning.

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Rose Imai.

Rose Imai (Tuscarora) has worked in the arts throughout her life. Her current work employs metallic watercolors to “paint the light.” She is Co-founder and Director of the Native American Academy, whose current project is creating a Sculpture Garden of Native Science and Learning. Read more from Rose Imai.

 

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