Museum of Motherhood

MamaBlogger365 – Magnificent Regions of the Heart with FeMail by Suzi Banks Baum and Karen Arp-Sandel

FeMail explores the magnificent regions of the heart, through the steady current of correspondence.

Poetry is the language of the Soul. Since April is National Poetry Month, we at FeMail thought we’d share with you some of our postcards adorned with poetry. Karen and I love wordplay and the imagistic inspirations that suffuse our art through poetry. We also use quotes as jet-streamed soul messages.

With this card, from the first year of our collaboration, I edged a torn paper composition with words by Stephen C. Paul. The conversation I have with myself as I create, especially using this technique that frees my hands from scissors, allows a freedom that I enjoy. It is just my glue stick and I composing with color. There in the center is a tiny painting of a woman’s hip. I am fascinated with the female form, with the curves that draw the eye towards a focal point. The reverse side is a composition using an image of a bowl of berries, gessoed over and a packing tape transfer title. In those days I was writing more, mixing my family and art life with stronger proportions of art. My journey as a full time Mother and Artist calls for stalwart discipline and a constant eye for what is playful in everything I do. This inner conversation has yielded my upcoming book, Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Women.

Mixing Sacred and Creative, front; © Suzi Banks Baum, All Rights Reserved.

Mixing Sacred and Creative, back; © Suzi Banks Baum, All Rights Reserved.

“Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Rumi Embodied, front; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

In these powerful words by the 13th c. Sufi poet, Jelaluddin Rumi, he declares the importance of Beginners Mind and collaboration in the name of free self-expression. For me, making this post card was a meditation upon the way Rumi and I can act as transmitters of the Divine. He made poems with words while I make poems with collage, the visual language of my heart. Isn’t it amazing that in the 21st c. people are wild about his poems? Rumi lived from 1207-1273 and eight hundred years later his books are still leaping off the shelves in bookstore worldwide.

“Live for Each Other,” says the Yogi tea bag tag that I collaged into the upper right. A butterfly, the symbol of metamorphosis, flies out of a circle of verdant vegetation. The Rumi event card I reused for this post card, is framed by the elaborate tea box border that reminds me of a magic carpet. Something about a Sufi poet and magic carpets seems to carry me out of the ordinary toward the back of the post card where I wrote the words of another Rumi poem about night travelers, the light of companionship, being wakeful and watchful beneath the Full Moon.

Rumi Embodied, back; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

Next I constructed a strip collage using blue designs cut from the insides of envelopes, red chocolate wrapper, strips of suminigashi and painted paper with the bold gold and green African symbols from a Divine chocolate bar wrapper. Each collage layer represents the metaphor of being ‘beyond right-doing and wrong-doing’, of living from the heart. Each little piece of paper is my “love poem inside the wrapper”. Notice the Winslow Homer postage stamp depicting two young friends side by side in a peaceful summer field. I’ll meet you there!

Love Collograph; © Karen Arp-Sandel, All Rights Reserved.

“In order to create, there must be love…” Igor Stravinsky

Sometimes my collage inspiration comes from within me like a lightening bolt. This poem by Igor Stravinsky captures once again the region of my heart where imagery, friendship, and artistry merge into the collage message. Stravinsky is one of the most influential composers in the world, whose career is notable for its artistic diversity. I think that is a great quality. This post card expresses my love for mixed media and eclectic composition too. The substrate is composed of my hand-marbled paper upon which I printed my original collograph design. Using one of my own altered photographs, I cut the daisy shape using my favorite die cut punch. The text at the top border is from the “S” page of a dictionary, and the poem is penned using my invented calligraphic font. “Love is the Masterpiece,” according to Igor. I could not agree more.

Roger Poem; © Suzi Banks Baum, All Rights Reserved.

Love inspires FeMail. Our love of each other, our families, of nature, this planet, of the Moon, so many things we share in love. I made this card to hold a poem I had written for our friend Roger, the Jester. He had just returned from his mission to Haiti, delivering laughter to the tent cities where refugees from the earthquake were living. I let my fascination with Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine books influence my artwork, using vintage paper over which I’d frottaged with oil crayon then painted, and there is a beer bottle label with a kingfisher on it and a stamp bearing a dragonfly, both images of transformation and the sacred. I found a piece of Bantock art to use as faux postage on this face of the card.

Here is the poem I enclosed to Karen, as a secret message revealed
only to someone who handles this piece of FeMail:

Roger Poem

My Roger friend is a Jester.
He has a pocket full of rubble from Haiti,
where he caused little children and grown men
to jump up and down
with laughter.

He poured some of the rubble in to my left hand.
It is exactly like the big pieces left
among the remains of my friend Joan
when I ran my hands through what was left of her.

I poured the rubble back in to
the vial he carries it in.

Dust on the palm,
the impression of someone else’s life left upon mine.

Rumi talks about fire and water.
One transforms us, one heals us.

Which will you choose?
Which cleansing will take you out
of your horror and fear
to reveal the naked beauty of you?

Will you, while considering your dust,
your fire,
your water,
step beneath the flowering crabapple
to let the laden boughs rest pink upon your forehead,
to bury yourself in spring?

By Suzi Banks Baum

Bio: Suzi Banks Baum is an Heirloom Variety Mom living in the hills of western Massachusetts. She is a writer and artist, raising 2 teen-agers with her husband. As she writes her book Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Women she blogs on the sacred in daily life at www.laundrylinedivine.com. Visit an online gallery and discussion of my mail art collaboration with Karen Arp-Sandel titled “Fe-Mail” at www.femailart.com.

Karen Arp-Sandel is a woman who wears many hats: artist, educator, yoga teacher, workshop presenter, Mother, wife, aunt, daughter and sister. In her role as a collage artist, she makes art in her home studio and teaches classes at IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, where she is on the faculty of the Painting, Drawing and Collage department. When she is not in her studio or instructing adults, she implements an exciting Learning through Arts programs in the public elementary schools using the skills in her “visual artist toolbox”. You can learn more about her in her professional capacity by visiting KarenArpSandel.com.

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About M. Joy Rose

Woman, Mother, Human, Rocker, Educator, Activist Director; Museum of Motherhood President and Founder; MaMaPaLooZa Inc. a company by Women, Promoting (M)others for social, cultural and economic benefit. Dedicated to a more educated, more peaceful, more musical planet.


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