Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Cambalacha?

This is an excerpt from my journal entry on the first day of Cambalacha classes in the new year. People write books about Why Art? People write essays on the social power of art. The power of art to change the world. I like to think that I will explore the details, images, colors, and complications of this question as the year continues. For now, this is neither the first page of a book or a well-formed essay. It is a journal entry exploring why I believe in this project -- perhaps just touching the surface of how Gabriela, the founder and director of La Cambalacha, has visioned, dreamed, manifested, written, drawn, built, sung, danced this place into existence. Perhaps just touching the surface of what I will learn and experience and write, paint, dance, sing into existence while I am here. With the collaboration and love of people from all over the world. Some just passing through. Some staying a longer while. This is an excerpt:

Blank pages. How beautiful you are. White. Spacious. Calm. Free. I arrive in this place, San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala. I arrive. To live. To share. To participate heart and soul in this project Cambalacha that believes in the power of Art to change the world. Living Artfully -- what is this? Cooperating. Listening. Greeting one another with Respect. Love. An Open Heart. Expressing love means dissolving fear -- confronting the fears we have inherited from years of oppression, civil war, violence. Calming the storm in our humans souls with Love -- creating together, sharing together, understanding that we create unnecessary divisions between us -- entre humanos, entre culturas, entre religiones entre culturas, entre razas. El Arte cambia el mundo. This is why we are here, in La Cambalacha, because we believe that the more people close to Art, to the Creative Process, the more peaceful, free, loving this world will be. Breathing, Dancing, Painting, Singing Positive Energy into the world -- sharing especially with children. Seeds of Hope. And we begin each workshop reminding ourselves why we play, why we sing, why we dance and paint and listen to stories and cooperate and express ourselves. Because every time we sing, out heart grows a little bit bigger. And everytime we dance our heart grows a little bit bigger. And everytime we wash ourselves of fear and dare to participate and express ourselves, our heart grows a little bit bigger. And every time we share and laugh and play together, our heart grows a little bit bigger. Until our hearts are "Asi de grande" -- and we draw a heart with our hands. A heart that begins at our fingertips stretching toward the sky and ends where our toes meet the earth. Imagine the life force of a heart this big. Beating. Pulsing. Nourishing the earth and its creatures with oxygen as it pumps and pumps -- hearts resounding together.


Anonymous said...

so thrilled to read your words, amazed at all you observe and how vivid your images...I reread them all at various

Rachel said...

Ashleigh, I am heart-warmed to find myself nodding my head emphatically in agreement with everything you have written, although we are in such different worlds right now. YES, we must crush apathy and find meaning every day in our actions; YES, we must embrace and embody love toward ourselves and others; YES the practice of creativity and art-making are the keys to self-discovery and repairing the pains of systemic and structural violence and oppression, which too many people suffer from in their homes and in society. YES, Ashleigh, what you are doing is important to you and to the universe.

And know that you are close to my thoughts, as most of the work I am doing in graduate school now is centered on artists and the ways they grapple with the world and try to change it with their creative powers. People like you, Ashleigh!

Anonymous said...

I just finished all your blog entries and feel truly inspired! You are definitely passionate about your work in La Cambalacha. One does hope that everyone can at some point in their life find their life's work. Love you so much, Mom

Anne said...

When my Mom was slowly dieing and I was worn out from 4 days and nights with only 6 hours total of sleep, your Dad called. I told him I wasn't sure who would die first - Mom or me. He said, "I know why she isn't dieing. Her heart is too big." You have a huge heart just like your Mom and Dad (and my Mom). I love your connection with art, love, and big hearts.
Thanks for your blog connection. Hugs, Anne C.