Across the Divides

I am part of a group called The Many, which is an online conversation with US women from all parts of the political spectrum, engaging across differences — with personal stories, political discussions, and the sharing of hopes, ideas and questions. This art is about our rich and sometimes messy process of listening and learning together.

Here’s the process of this work:

There are various degrees of redness and blueness and a mix of the two that happens in the group. Red is on the left and blue is on the right because we are practicing seeing through the eyes of the other. Across1

Then I wanted to connect the red and the blue, and also create some depth, so layers of white went on, similar to the stripes in our flag.Across2

It is almost like we are sitting and talking in a big circle – and by doing so, we lean toward a wholeness of community together. There’s no dominant part of a circle – there is an equality to the shape itself. When I initially laid the paint down, it was thick and opaque, but that didn’t seem quite right because we are far too nuanced and many-layered to be one flat color. Wiping it back to this level of translucency seems to reflect us better. There’s also a safety to the circle shape, thanks to our moderators.

The conversations themselves are captured in the gold threads that go back and forth across the circle. Each one has three gold glass beads on it, symbolizing the asking of a question, a response, and where the conversation can go next. The beads are loose, as conversation is a fluid dynamic.


Here’s a closer look:Across4

Then it felt like each thread needed a stronger origin point, so I added dots of red, black, white, yellow and brown. They give a visual anchor to the conversations and remind me of the different colored lives behind each and every post.Across5

The threads are fragile and delicate, as conversation can also be. You have to get right up to the art to really see the threads, just as conversation invites us in closer. I added some black threads wrapped around the gold ones, because there are times when conversations here can get difficult and emotionally tangled. Yet we are still moving toward each other, across our differences, despite the challenges they present, and are learning to engage and listen for the gold in each person. Or learning how to be willing to do so. If we can do this, it gives me hope that maybe our country can too…?

Media: acrylics, thread, glass beads on canvas, 24″x24″    ©2018 Wendy Lew Toda




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