Something different is happening in my art and my life with animals. Or maybe it was always there and I’m just becoming aware of it or allowing myself to believe it. Since I can remember I’ve been drawn to animals, all kinds of animals. As a kid I wished I had a special connection to them, like a secret language or that they would choose me somehow. But I never really thought of myself as someone capable of that, I never thought of myself as special enough.
I’ve had dogs and cats for most of my life, but other than that, I haven’t spent much time around other animals, although I continued to be interested in them . Then, when I was in my early 40’s I started feeding the animals at Bedlam Farm. At the time, Jon and I were just friends and he had 4 donkeys, 3 cows, more than 20 sheep, three goats, three hens and two barn cats. I remember thinking, it took me forty years, but finally I got to feed the animals. I would actually cry when I brought the hay out to the feeders. I didn’t know why I was crying, but it felt like I had finally arrived, after so many years of being deprived. Deprived of that connection to animals that I craved since childhood.
Then Jon started taking pictures of me and the donkeys. By then he just had Fanny and Lulu and the barn cats and he and I were living together. He wrote about the connection between me and the donkeys that he captured in his photos. Everyone seemed to see it, but I couldn’t. I could feel it, but was afraid to put words to it. I still didn’t think myself capable of such a thing as much as I wanted it. I denied it for years.
But little by little, I began to open myself up to it. I could see something happening in Jon’s photos and started to admit it to him and myself. Then I allowed myself to acknowledge what I was feeling when I crouched next to the donkeys, that opening of my heart, the listening and blurring of beings that would happen between us.
And now I feel like all of this has gone even further. And it scares me like it used to, not because I’m afraid of what might happen, but because I don’t think I’m special enough for something like this to happen to. And, like being an artist, it’s something that I’ve wanted for a long, long time.
But it does seem to be happening this connection and communication between me and the animals. And some of its basic and practical, like bringing them food, and some of its mystical, like hearing words and seeing images in my mind when I’m with them. And I’m just realizing that the animals have made their way into my art. Not that I wasn’t conscious of using animals in my work, but they’ve entered it organically. They have become so integrated in my life, I would almost be lying if I didn’t use them. And like communicating with them, it’s practical, in that I’m using what’s in front of me to influence my art and mystical, when they come to me in my dreams and visions and make their way into my work.
But Nicole said it best when she left this comment on my blog: “ that ancient bond speaks so clearly in your art and in your writing. It’s not forced, it just speaks through the stories, dreams, metaphors and archetypes that appear in your art. I really connect to your language, your “dream-speak.”
My art comes from my heart, more than my head. My feelings and dreams, other places I don’t even know about and can’t describe in words. It’s an internal thing, and both Jon and Nicole have told me something I feel is true, but it’s so exciting to me that I can’t admit it or quite believe it yet.