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The Curious End to the War Against Ourselves

See this video.  A hundred and fifty people drew and painted on the 170-foot linen scroll titled “The Curious End to the War Against Ourselves,” outside the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in the summer of 2016. 
Now I'm preparing for the next iteration of the scroll.  People will experience the soothing and expressive nature of making art while exploring these questions:  "What is beautiful? What is Ugly? How does something ugly become beautiful?"  People throughout Santa Cruz County engaged with this new layer of the Curious Project before the November 2018 election. Next the Curious Scroll will visit swing states before the 2020 political primaries and conventions.   
In 2016, I and my team guided people to find calm and compassion for themselves and those they disagree with.  

We asked them to close their eyes and let their bodies sway and move the with water-soluble crayons on the linen scroll.  And then to feel water with their fingers and to watch what happens as they spread the water over their crayon marks.  Next we encouraged participants to look out at the humanity before them and notice feeings and judgments that came up and to move the crayons as if dancing to the sensations of their judgments.  99% of the reported feeling more calm and relaxed after this activity. 

The Associated Press published an article and video entitled: Artist Asks Public to Collaborate at Political Conventions.

Barry Yeoman reported in Indy Week, "Amidst the cacophony, in front of a craft cocktail bar, there's a tiny zone of calm.  At its center stands a fifty-four-year-old artist and psychotherapist named Andrew Purchin.  "Take a break," he says to pasersby. "Get calm. Get curious. Relax with some art supplies."

You can try out the guided art making meditation that people listened to as they created on the scroll.  

The scroll and documentary video is a testament to the unique expressions of the many people who are finding a way to get calm, curious and not furious.  I hope the story of this pilgrimage will inspire viewers to think outside the box and help us stop blaming each other and start seeing each other.

See the 6 minute video below.  Consider making a donation to pay off expenses from the project and video and so that more of this work can continue. 

Here’s what the handout said: 

I hope you are at peace with yourself and those around you.  

I am not.  

I would like to be.  

I want to be calm, creative, compassionate.  

Open to beauty.

I try to be curious, not furious.  

As I paint and draw on this scroll I'm looking at you and all the people here.  

I see the beauty in your gestures and forms. 

I wonder if you are like me--at war with yourselves and others.  

Why make a scroll?

Because it's ancient and slow.  It’s so different than a cell phone. It calls for reverence.

“The Curious End to the War Against Ourselves” is an important story.  It deserves an epic format.

How am I at war with myself?

Do you have an inner critic?,  I have one.  It's the critical voice inside my head that says things like 'You're no good. This is stupid. You're gonna mess up. You don't know what you're talking about. . .’

I have another voice that tries to fight the inner critic. It says things like, 'Be quiet. Get out of here. Shut up...'

These voices fight with each other a lot.  I get very tired of their conflict.

You could say that I am at war with myself .

These voices quiet down when I am kind and curious. Then I realize that they both mean well. Both of them are just trying to take good care of me.

How am I at war with others?

Have you ever judged anybody who disagrees with you?  I have. 

The critical voice inside my mind says things like: 'They don't know what they are talking about. They are stupid, wimpy, misguided, too emotional, too intellectual, too streetwise. Their race, religion, political party, beliefs, culture are bad. They hate me.'

When this voice is in charge I feel hostile and superior and afraid and threatened. I can get into arguments that escalate into more separation and aggression. The people I'm judging, judge me in return. We all dig in our heels and we get nowhere. Dang!

If I can find a way to be curious and creative and calm, then something can open up and I can see that all of us are just trying to take good care of ourselves as best we can. When I do this other people sometimes perceive my shift, and they can feel safe enough to stop blaming. Then we can be curious together. We have a chance, then, to find solutions that might work.

Why make art in the midst of conflict?

Making art can calm us down. The feeling of painting, drawing, sculpting helps us be in our bodies and we can relax into a mindset of curiosity.  We pay attention to what our bodies know, instead of what our critical voices are saying.

We can discern instead of judge, evaluate instead of fight, experiment instead of needing to be right.


Artwork Pager

Artwork Pager

Artwork Pager