Cri de Coeur

March 18, 2011 By: Shala Blackburn Category: Mind Body Spirit, Sacred Art, Touching the Sacred

When my daughter was six, there was a fire in our apartment.  We lost most of our possessions (disastrous) and our cat was killed (tragic).  A few days later, my radiant, soulful child drew a picture.  Around the edge were a bunch of letters with circles around them, and at her feet were all of these dark, stick-like things.  The face was in mirror image (as most kids do at that age), and the eyes showed their two different shades of brown.  And rolling down the cheek was one long, lonely teardrop.  I suddenly realized the stick-like things were symbols of our burned up possession, but I had to ask here what the letters meant.  She told me they stood for each of the pets we had lost over the years, including our recently dead Monster-Cat.  It was a heartfelt rendering of a series of losses, of bereavement felt so deeply ……….. real, visceral, so honest.

And ever since, in any human-made or natural disaster – revolution, war, 9/11, “Act of God” – I wonder about the images that would come from it, if only people took the time to make them, were encouraged to do so.  Art may seem a self-centered indulgence in the aftermath of disastrous and tragic events, but as my daughter’s heart stoppingly sad image told so clearly, it is a necessary expression, a means of healing-set-in-motion.  I wonder if the anger, the fear so naturally felt at difficult times would more quickly and completely lessen and dissipate if people had a means of expressing them.  One of the many <<purposes>> of art can be channeling the myriad cris de coeur out of people’s ravaged minds, thus making room for the creativity, the sense of community and determination needed for rebuilding and recovering.  Art, surely, can be a useful tool in such instances – so, along with that first aid kit, the candles and the extra water, tuck some crayons and sculpey in your survival packs – see what comes …….. and see what goes………..

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