Image of a piece of watercolor paper, a cream-colored approximately 4” x 6” rectangle against a similarly colored wall. The words “risk more deeply” are painted on the card in black water soluble soft carbon, with an ink outline.

Risk more deeply

What stands out for me as I look over 2019 is the conversations I had not had before. The people I let into my life. In person, or otherwise. Questions, gestures, know-how…ideas and emotions they brought into my world that became part of me risking more deeply.

It’s a lot of small stuff really. I’m not saying I even agreed with, or wanted more of their view of things, though some of it was beautiful, brilliant and needed. Just that our interaction became part of my momentum. My expression. Also my capacity and interest in what is not me, in what is possible, if I go further than what I already knew about any of us. If I go slower than sureness about who you are, and what you would be willing to do with me. If I asked you.

What helps you to risk more deeply?

For me, it’s getting feedback. It’s you listening while I try to explain, trip over my thoughts, a rush of air through an unexpectedly open door. And me surprised by what you saw,  focused on, or asked for. “That’s not it,” I want to say. “I’m over here. Why are you over there?”

But I don’t ask that. Somehow I know not to. I try not to brute force connection.

I try to just take notes. What can I do with what you said? And just get back to work. Go again. Go deeper. Go again. I hate it when you don’t understand me. I need you in this with me. So, I will keep going, peel off everything that is in the way of me clearly expressing what moves me, so that it moves you too.

Whether I bristle against it, ask you to explain further or just thank you for getting into it with me, you may be transformed by your internal conversation. Or by something or someone in your life that I know nothing about when they are added to the mix sometime later in the week, or whenever, and who knows what that will lead to, or what you will see, or focus on, or ask for the next time we talk.

It is not a switch to turn on and off. Connecting us. I don’t know what it is, but it is not that. All I know is that I have to go deeper into what I don’t know about this if I am ever going to make it happen. So, I’ll keep going, peeling off the layers that have not so much kept me safe, as still.

An image of a partial view of Merge New York studio, where words and phrases from bodylife listening sessions are posted on the wall to loosely frame today’s conversation experience. Vagina portraits, printed as if they might be oversized Polaroids, square with thick white borders, a thicker one at the bottom, inviting you to hold up the image, are laid out on three tables. Just one of the v-portrait tables is in view (in the foreground). The images are laid out on it on a muslin tablecloth, that has “normal is diverse” painted on it with black fabric paint. In the background, the studio’s gong is visible behind the writing table that has two chair set with it, and stands just in front of the wall of windows, that show the building across the street awash in some later day bluelight.

Telling our own stories

It wasn’t quite what she expected. She imagined there would be vagina portraits on the walls. Actually, nearly everyone said the same. I can understand that.

What does an art & conversation experience mean anyway?

There were women who told me that they really liked the table installation format, the intimacy and directness of it.

I like it too.

Still, I know that disorienting feeling of “Wait, where am I? Is this the right place?” — it can be off-putting. Even for way less provocative subject matter than viewing vaginas.

I’ll be providing more info up front going forward.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d just share these photos, so that they’re available when I organize the next art & conversation experience (that happens to be in a similar space, with our words on the walls and vagina portraits laid out on tables for us to turn over and view and arrange however we like), and I can point you here to get a glimpse of what we’re gonna do together. Or at least what it might look like when you enter.

The conversation is different every time.

An image of a partial view of Merge New York studio, where four women, two each by a table of vagina portraits, are deep in bodylife conversation. A third table of vagina portraits is peeking out in the forefront. A nighttime view of the building across the street is visible through the back wall of windows. The left wall has watercolor word cards (black paint on cream-colored paper) taped to it. Their content was sourced from bodylife listening sessions and is not readable from here. A writing table is arranged in the back with two chairs, cups of pens and paper, so they can add their stories to the wall. Two women did.
Telling our own stories.