Works in Constellationism


Added on by Matthew Gantt.

So, as per usual, I've been quite busy and desperately need to blog before I lose track of all the events since my last post.

Esalen was a life-changing trip and priceless.  To go into what the workshop entails would not only sound strange to those who aren't attending, but I feel as though it might somehow diminish the experience for me, break the spell as it were.  Suffice is to say that it was just wonderful, not only the workshop itself and the other attendees, but the Esalen Institute in general and all the lovely people attending other workshops and the special folks that live and work there.  I cannot wait to go back next year!

If you followed my blog, you might know that I was going to Esalen to attend the 20th Mythological Toolbox™ Playshop hosted by Robert Walter, President and Executive Director of the Joseph Campbell Foundation.  I'll come back to this.

Last year, I applied for a  grant from the OPUS Archive and Research Center at the Pacifica Graduate Institute.  I did not win a grant this cycle, but I had a really ambitious project I wanted to, so I went ahead and did it, it just isn't funded by anyone other than myself.  I wouldn't let something like that stop me from working on a really great idea.

My proposal was to use my Constellationism process to produce a series of work that would tell a story from the unconscious.  Which is to say, since my subject matter is aleatory and springs from the unconscious, could I do a series and throw all the ink in a short time-frame and piece them together to form a somewhat coherent story?  Well, while I was at Esalen I threw the ink for 15 pieces in the series and so far, everything has turned out great.  To add another layer to the whole series, I changed ink colors monochromatically as the story progresses to illustrate a journey through the seven chakras, so the story starts out in dark reds and moves through all the ROY G BIV to end in violet.  So far, none of the line work has been finished as I wanted to complete a few pieces I had going before the trip, but I should start to finish the first pieces next week or so.

While at Esalen, I met two wonderful gentlemen who run Alchemy Inc. a non-profit out of the Cleveland, OH area that uses storytelling and mythology to assist urban youth in personal growth and development while giving them a sense of self-esteem and purpose in what might otherwise be a volatile adolescence.  What they do is just amazing.  So amazing, in fact, that this past winter they won an NAHYP award presented to them by none other that the First Lady, Michelle Obama.  Both Kwame Scruggs and Kwame Williams are truly pioneers and just all-around great individuals. They seemed to like what I do as well, because they've asked me to fly up to the Ohio area in June and be part of their one-week summer camp by teaching the young men to do what I do on a rudimentary level and incorporate it into the overall theme of the week.  Needless to say, I'm going and I'm super excited about being able to volunteer my time with kids.  And it will be nice to hang-out with the two Kwames again, if for no other reason than to hear them tell a story.

On one day of our workshop we died.  Actually, it was a ritual death to symbolize a death to the old me and a rebirth of the new.  part of the project was to create our own tombstone on black paper.  So, since I was also there to make some art, I did what I do best and made a Constellationism tombstone.  Now lately, I've been experimenting while I'm throwing ink, I've been trying to hold a thought in my mind as I throw the ink, so see if there's any correlation to what comes out (and of course there is, you can't put one over on your own unconscious).  So this was the first time I've ever thought about myself while throwing ink.  You can see the result here.

I actually gave this piece to a dear friend I made at the workshop, she really went out of her way to bring me out of my shell while I was there and was blown away by my portfolio.  Since it was my tombstone, it felt odd to keep it; better out there in the world.  I know Brenda will take good care of it for me.  Hugs for you, Brenda!

I hade a nice group of friends during the workshop and I miss them when I think about them.  It's difficult to explain, but after going through some of the things we did, you just form a common bond.  It reminds me of Basic Training somewhat.

Last but not least, the most wonderful thing that happened was that Robert Walter asked me if I would be interested in returning to Esalen next year to help facilitate the art portions of the next workshop.  To which I agreed.  I had already had it in my mind that I would love to make the workshop an annual trip, and now I have the perfect reason to do so.  It would be an honor and a privilege to be part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation in any capacity.  It feels great to be able to volunteer my time and skills in any way.  So excited and grateful about that as well!

I've some other news, but since most inter-webs folks don't read anything for more than a few minutes (damn people with their short attention-spans!) I'll have to post another day.  Until then...