Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Poverty as a Creative Opportunity

A living on the street in Manila receives a heart shaped banana pancake in a decorated banana leave sleeve.

I've been reflecting alot on my art practice in the last year. I have been doing art (which is usually for rich people) in one of the most materially poor countries in the world.

What is poverty exactly?

When it comes right down to it, poverty is a perspective, personal or collective on one's financial, material or existential state. Yep, that's what I am saying: fundamentally, poverty is an idea, a label-- a belief even. It is the idea you are lacking something that you should have or need.

Now, many spiritual folks will debate that this is in fact possible: Our moments are our perfect creations and we have all that we need Here in the Now. Poor people however, will urgently disagree, "I could really could use some food/money/gas right now!"

Such thoughts of lack however provide an opportunity to the other-- the neighbor, you and me. It is the opportunity for generosity, magnimitty, goodness, love. Poverty is an opportunity for the you and me to provide those immersed in need, precisely what they feel they lack. The condition of poverty is the perfect correlate for it's polar opposite to express itself: abundance and generosity!

Yet relieving another's need can be peformed in different ways. Giving can be cold and mechanical-- a welfare check from the government in the mail. Or it can be full of creativity and colour-- a gift wrapped in a hand painted paper and encircled with flowers. It can be about admelioring societal statistics, or it can be about creatively embracing the unique nuances of a person or people's existential state. The later takes time and imagination of course-- like a good painting. Truly, it is not so much about the material provided, but about the way of giving-- the way one expresses abundance to the other. As such, giving becomes an art. As such, I dare say, poverty becomes a blank canvas of artistic opportunity.

In this way the antiquitated verb 'to bless' gains relevance. In the way that The Lord would 'bless' a person or people with particular abundance, so too can we artfully address poverty with profound, poetic and luminous blessings of creativity.

This is even more so when we unite together to collectively and creatively express light to the shadows of lack and poverty. When two or more join together to craft and weave a blessing, the effect gains luminosity exponentially. Through socially media, an unprecedented opportunity presents itself for social co-creative blessings.

Such blessings are like a soft and colourful tapestry woven by a village to lay over a neighbour's rough and jagged floor. The co-creative expression that is woven for poverty has the opportunity to attain the highest ideals of beauty. For this is a tapestry woven not out of threads of cotton or silk but of hands joined together in a common task. The primary colours that form the expression are not red, blues and green, but instead joy, connection and oneness.

I can see it now, one day in the not so distant future, things will be alot more harmonious here on planet Earth. The enlightened humanity ahead of us will shake their heads with envy at our era. "There was so much poverty back then!" Poverty will then be seen clearly and valued for what it is. "They had so much glorious opportunity to manifest the most beautiful things and express love so colorfully!"

I am smack dab in the field here. Drop me a line if you'd like to help co-create.

Jaffari gives the Japanese ambassador an origami lotus flower made out of his youth group's prayer for the Japanese people after the 2011 Earthquake.

Completed! The Women of Gilbraltor neighborhood, Baguio, Phillippines pose with 113 coasters made entirely from recycled and woven trash (sachets from chips and other corporate food). These Trashure coasters are next their way to a Fair Trade store in Germany. Orders like this inspire massively here in the cities, jump-starting community recycling and, most of all, getting folks to think differently about garbage.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Building a re-Home

My lover Bianca and I have decided to undertake a novel challenge.

We have been laying the ground work to manifest another library project in the village of Sabagan for the last month. The library is to be built using recycled bottles. Bianca and I will be moving there in the next two days to fully apply our expertise to the project. The mayor, councillors, the guide association and schools are getting very excited by the project we are proposing. They are keen to get the community recycling going and with the "trash" that flows in, build their library.

But our moving there is the easy part. Getting settled is another matter! We'll be moving into a completely empty house. We'll be bringing our backpacks with nothing but our cloths and living gear. And... our creativity.

You see, we are going to make our furnishing from trash. Our chosen house, is located right beside the library site and the town recycling depot. The depot is there but the community is not yet using it. I will be working with all the community schools to jump start the project. Soon the recycling depot will be filled with all sorts of exciting and sorted items.

And... We're going to build our home! Yep. That's our self imposed challenge! We're going to build everything from our couches to mats to mattreses using recycled materials.

You can follow our village adventure and more of my Trashured discoveries (trash > treasure) on this new Facebook page that I have setup.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Creative Destruction

I am reminded from my early fire painting days that destruction is the beginning of creation, failure the requisite passage to success, a problem the spark of solution. The best and most meaningful beauty is shorn of the fires of tribulation, trial and test.