Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT August 10th 2020

Thirty people Zoom-gathered this evening from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, England, India and several states in the USA.

Today, we “close looked” at a new kind of text: a mural found in the city of Philadelphia titled “Everything the Light Touches,” designed by Brad Carney with The U School students, and painted with Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha and the 8th and Diamond Rec Center for Mural Arts Philadelphia. After one minute of silent close looking, we shared our impressions and observations. Our first respondent brought attention to the movement in the piece by sharing some of the words that came to her in observing the painting; participants brimmed with observations of what they saw as actions of “reaching, grasping, expanding” in the postures of figures in the mural who they saw “skating, dancing, writing” as they looked for freedom and connection. Some saw women represented and thought of “sisterhood” and added the idea of “female energy” even attempts to “emancipate through writing.”

One person said, “Philly is a city of murals” and followed with a “seeing Ben Franklin.” Freedom was again mentioned, which seems fitting with what we know about the city’s early history, congresses, and the Liberty Bell. The second time it was mentioned as “Freedom into flying” and pointing to a figure that looked as if about to leave the ground.

More than one participant saw music–music floating, music “adding color”, music reaching different corners.  The mural’s narrative brought associations to Yeats’ “negative capability,” which suggests the value of living with uncertainty. (A value held by NM close-reading and slow-looking in which we explore together without illusions of “solving” or certainty in deciphering texts.)

Attention was paid to the bright colors, the “opacity” of the blue, red, pink, and green; the combination of realism, impressionism, and abstraction, and how these aspects “enliven architecture.” As one participant contributed: “There is more to an inner city than bricks and cement.” That comment took us back to an earlier visual text and our discussion of that which is “swirling in the air.” Another said the lines in the mural’s design made her think of the technique of drawing without lifting the lead from the paper, which provides continuity to the rendering.

Before prompting 4-minutes of writing, when we asked participants to “chat” possible titles for the (as yet unrevealed) title for this community mural, people suggested;

Freedom

Blowing Circles—Walls of Jericho

Color Me Here

Chromatic Scripts

Flights of Fancy

Seize Your Joy

Philadelphia Notes

Unconditional Colorful Release

Urban Ballet

Urban Jazz

Urban Jam

When asked to “Portray a person, place, or thing that you wish the light touched” those who read their work aloud shared odes to people (family or friends) whose lives seemed limited due to aging or other situations that writers wished light (internal or external) could shine on them. There were comments about limiting our own assumptions about who or when to shine a light on another. As we shared our thoughts, we reflected on the need to be attentive and mindful as we shine light on others – what kind of light would they prefer? whose stories are we taking up and colonizing? Participants were grateful for the new perspective this piece and each other’s writings contributed, flipping “our expectations of light being a good thing”. It also revealed how assumptions may shape what we see and hear, or what we look for.

These comments fit well with another person’s writing about turning over rocks in nature and uncovering life that preferred the dark. The writer gave voice to the lives of these “roly-polies” who asked the narrator to cover them up again and leave them in the dark.    

We closed off by asking ourselves questions about the nature and the origin of light:  “Does lightness have to come from the outside?” “Or can it come from the inside?” “Or does it matter as long as we get to experience it?”

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Wednesday, August 12th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


“Everything the Light Touches”
Designed by Brad Carney with The U School students and painted with Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha and the 8th and Diamond Rec Center. For Mural Arts Philadelphia.

11 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT August 10th 2020

  1. “Severe migraine, watery eyes and an aversion to light,
    everything seems blurry and painful.
    The son grunts while holding a blue pen,
    Or was it a black one?
    On his notebook, doodles like sour noodles,
    Stretching to the world of Hades, or to the next cloud
    Who can say.
    I understand pain, the father is heard saying,
    an office file in hands, baggy eyes fixed on numbers
    highlighted and luminous.
    Everyone understands pain, nobody believes it,
    It is what doubt is, it is what certainty is.
    The mother prays with a light,
    to a light, for a light,
    Thinking of exchanging the best of her days
    For the son’s worst. She is a simple woman.
    Little does she know,
    that wishing for a light, in such moments
    Is a delicate business. ”

    Thank you for a great session.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      I love this poem. You take us on multiple journeys. The point of view of son, mother and father, tells such a complex narrative, with so much wit, and playful precision. “doodles like sour noodles”, made me smile. The piece seems grounded in reality. It feels like you are a fly on the wall, watching this scene unfold.
      I really like how you have problematised pain “Everyone understands pain, nobody believes it”,“It is what doubt is, it is what certainty is”.
      It makes us wonder why this is the case.

      I like how your play on the theme of light, is used as a devise to characterise the mother.
      The mother prays with a light,
      to a light, for a light,
      This is such a clever compelling piece. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A person I wished the light touched~~~

    She was an active person,
    alive and happy with what life placed before her.
    Tinkering in her garden,
    tending her rose bushes
    as if they were members of the family.
    What beautiful flowers they would have in the Springtime;
    I was envious of her green thumb since mine was brown.

    The passage of time sometimes casts a dark shadow over life.
    She now sits at her kitchen table,
    unable to pop outside on a whim.
    Her garden is closeby, but yet so far.
    She can see it
    if she stands at the kitchen window and looks out to the yard.

    Her thoughts are clouded,
    her memory fragile.
    My wish is that heavenly light shines brightly upon her,
    bringing her joy,
    illuminating her world.
    She so deserves that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      This is so full of compassion. You have drawn an indelible impression for us.

      I enjoyed listening to you read this and smiled at the thought of your brown hands. So, I am envious of your brown hands. I salute the lady with green hands. I enjoyed spending time in the garden of your mind. I would love the lady in the garden and the lady who can no longer garden I sense that her memories of gardening are embedded in her cells. Albeit ,she can no longer recall her experience I think communing with her garden from afar, activates a knowing that she cultivated life. Your wish is a beautiful prayer.
      Thanks for sharing

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      I love this poem. You take us on multiple journeys. The point of view of son, mother and father, tells such a complex narrative, with so much wit, and playful precision. “doodles like sour noodles”, made me smile. The piece seems grounded in reality. It feels like you are a fly on the wall, watching this scene unfold.
      I really like how you have problematised pain “Everyone understands pain, nobody believes it”,“It is what doubt is, it is what certainty is”.

      It makes us wonder why this is the case.
      I like how your play on the theme of light, is used as a devise to characterise the mother.
      The mother prays with a light,
      to a light, for a light,This is such a clever compelling piece. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  3. Dr Yewande Okuleye

    The Gift of Light

    Walking by the sea
    I follow the stream
    of light as it penetrates
    soggy sand
    revealed the lost book
    iridescent and caramelized
    ———- tantalising glimpse of camellia

    as I hum to karma chameleon
    how I wish you could
    slowly turn pages and
    stop.
    ——- just at the spot
    corner — line
    lines ——– paragraph

    or blank space
    to reveal
    concealed
    insights
    forgotten

    then
    a burst of light
    generates a spark
    a flash of remembrance
    jolted

    #anima
    #animus

    compelled to renew
    a forgotten vow
    to become light – to let go
    2 be the light
    2 shine the light
    2 share the light
    2 pass on light hand to hand mouth to mouth
    heart to heart toe to toe

    hand to mouth
    mouth to hand
    as we live on
    we become one light
    lemon glow camellia
    lightning

    Ase

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Patricia D

    Lost twins, with genes inherited in the womb that put them at concurrent risk for all the sorrows, deadends and suffering their biological parents unwittingly passes on to them.
    Despite adoption into a stimulating, healthy home they were both drawn backwards to their origins.
    If only Light could show them another way of living, one infused with love, kindness, safety and hope.
    I wonder, would they see it?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. al3793

    Well, I’ve been pretty hard on him, but I feel like he’s been pretty hard on us. He certainly provides fodder for late night TV and radio show hosts. I saw a woman wearing a tee-shirt last week that had a Tide logo on it with the word VOTE inscribed. Below it said, “Removes particularly nasty orange stains.”

    How I wish he would be touched by the light. I know I do not have own the market when it comes to light or truth. Truths can be more than one and truth can change. How I wish the light could touch others in a way that he could see the humanity as it is and for what it is rather than as a brokering chip being flipped into the corner of the political landscape.

    That being said, I hope most that the light shine on the dark places inside of me.

    Andre

    Liked by 1 person

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