"Bontebok Kintsugi" - mixed media on reclaimed wood, 24" x 24". Making its public debut at Ciel Gallery in June. Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A rare Thursday blog post to satisfy a couple of curious readers in Philly, who might just be desperate to know what I did yesterday. (You know who you are! Yes, I am pointing at you!)
At 4:30 yesterday afternoon, I entered a studio in FAT Village and began the process of becoming UNLEASHED. Part of a project by artist Melissa Vlahos, I joined the ranks of the soon to be 108 women who boldly dropped their armor (and their clothing - yep, every last stitch) and learned to love their own bodies.
Melissa is a gentle spirit, sweet and light. She began this project after realizing her own body-consciousness while visiting a nude beach in Greece, and became determined to help women overcome body insecurities and reconnect with the gratitude, joy, pride, sexiness, spirit and love of their own bodies. And just walking into her studio, knowing I was about to bare it all in front of a camera, and then paint my emotions on my body canvas, I was certainly feeling apprehensive and insecure. And, ok, scared!
Two hours and a heap load of paint later, I emerged. More colorful, sure, but lighter. So much inner body baggage was released in that special studio space. And I had a boatload of profundities to contemplate. Including a deep appreciation of the strength, beauty and spirit of the body that has housed me for nearly 55 years, born children, suffered burdens and loss, illness, surgery, accidents...but also housed laughter, joy, excitement, delight and sweet serenity. Through a guided meditation before the painting, Melissa helped me uncover a deep thread of continuity - halcyon memories and experiences that filled my heart and thrilled my being.
The experience left me in tears. Good tears - tears of relief, of realization, of release. What began as a dare to myself to overcome my fear of public nudity became instead a reunion with long lost appreciation for how beautiful a human body can be - especially my own. And a determination that my own body will no longer be a recipient of my negative thoughts and insecurities, but a revered temple of goodness and light.
One photo of me will, at the end of this project, join the nude photos of 107 other brave women in a large art installation. In the meantime, here are before and after pics for your enjoyment.
If you are curious about the Unleashed Project, or are ready to take the plunge and become UNLEASHED yourself, click here.
If you are curious about Bontebok Kintsugi and its story, check out The Wisdom of Wild Things exhibit opening June 2 at Ciel Gallery in Charlotte, NC.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation