An Artist's Purpose
In mid January, right before a trip down to Belize, I had the opportunity to listen to John Cobb give an artist talk at the Valley House. His work resonated with me for several reasons. First, because we both received our art education at St. Edward's University in Austin. Second, because he paints landscapes in watercolor and many of the pieces he exhibited were illustrations of places around Austin where I began to draw from nature. Finally, and the most significant reason that I was captivated by his work, is because of his philosophy of art as a ministry.
He spoke of this humbly, and not just about himself, or only in regard to artists. His belief is that we're all called to work for a greater power. Several months prior to this talk, I felt like I had lost sight of what Mpulse Studio stands for. I had established a mission statement and a belief statement that I felt truly defined myself and my creative vision, but something wasn't quite right and I couldn't figure out what it was.
When I returned to Belize, I continually proclaimed that all I wanted to do was paint landscapes. I didn't want to deal with the administrative side of Mpulse Studio, I didn't want to think about marketing or budgets... every part of my soul wanted to isolate myself from daily minutia and paint. Except, the Universe had another plan.
I sat in my studio with one of my best friends and she encouraged me to tell more people about my LOVE Necklace one-for-one giving program with Genesis Women's Shelter. I was frustrated. Tears welled up in my eyes as I explained that how much the program means to me, but I was resistant to totally focus on it because I was yearning to focus on my painting. She respectfully let me know that she would give me the space I needed to paint. About twenty minutes after she left my studio, I received a phone call from an unknown number. Ordinarily,I wouldn't have answered, but something compelled me to. The woman on the other end of the line introduced herself and told me that, through Genesis, she had received a LOVE necklace. She shared her story about how impactful the necklace was to her.
As I listened, a smile grew upon my face and my frustrations grew into confusion. If so much of my soul was yearning to paint, why was there so much attention on my LOVE necklace? Over the next couple of weeks, several more things occurred in regard to the LOVE necklace. At this point, the Universe was screaming at me. I had no choice but to turn inward and reflect on what Mpulse Studio really is about. I thought about the story line of my novel, Sketches from the Heart of a Texas Artist. I thought about my main character's journey toward wholeness after enduring sexual abuse, where her adventures take her, and why. I thought about how unloved I felt for too long after I lost a significant amount of work to sexual harassment and psychological abuse. I thought about why I designed the LOVE necklace and how, even though I wanted a symbol of love so badly, it still look me months before I loved myself enough to wear it.
Before I knew it, I had connected with directors at women's shelters in each significant setting of my novel: Genesis in Dallas, SAFE Alliance in Austin, Haven House in Belize City, and New Orleans Women's and Children's Shelter. I organized the LOVE Necklace one-for-one giving program through shelters in each of these places so that a ministry of love can be shared across the continent, and women are continually given the reminder that love is real.
I agree with the artist, John Cobb. It's our duty to serve through our work. We're given our talents so that we can work with purpose. I have set a goal to be able to share at least six hundred LOVE necklaces this year, which means that each shelter will have one hundred and twenty-five necklaces on had to distribute to the women they serve. Just imagine how much beautiful energy will radiate our landscape as more and more hearts are filled with love. So, while a painting of the Ambergris shoreline that I began working on the day I returned from Belize still sits in my studio, half finished, I am confident that there is a purpose behind it, just waiting to unfold.