Art-Party and Fundraiser for Bryant Holsenbeck’s Book, “The Last Straw”

By Andrea Davis

When people are gathered for an art party, one may imagine paint, canvases, and brushes, or at least some paper and scissors. Since Bryant Holsenbeck was involved, something would be repurposed. But, despite official assurances that the artist herself would be there to guide and assist, I never thought all present would have the opportunity to create her or his own Bryant-style creature!

Sunday, April 22, 2018, was a delightful Spring afternoon and the sunlight and gentle breezes beckoned folks out of their homes and into RCWMS to create whimsical critters and to raise funds to send Bryant’s book to press. Those first on the scene may have been daunted by the pile of textile scraps and the neighboring stash of yarn and string in a rainbow of colors, but Bryant was quick to show people how to begin to shape a creature. She demonstrated how to tuck and wrap the pieces and to look to see whether you might have the start of bunny ears, a mermaid tail, or part of an elephant. If your now-forming fairy needed the turquoise scrap to sparkle, simply stuff less showy fabric inside. Regardless, everyone was taught that the key was to wrap the yarn tightly as one worked. A gaggle of critters took form as friends and new acquaintances chatted, some discussing the tip sheet Bryant provided with ideas to reduce waste.

Bryant became skilled at reducing waste when she began a journey in 2009 to avoid single-use plastics. This dovetails with her work as an environmental artist and The Last Straw transforms her blog into a book. Several thousand of the $5000 needed to bring this to realization was raised at this event, and you too can help bring this challenging and inspiring piece to print.

Changing the Race Dance

Photo Credit: Smita Misra

by J Zirbel [No pronouns, simply J]

I have learned from my participation in “Changing the Race Dance” that I can keep moving in love and wisdom, working to unravel and loosen the hold racism has on me. This workshop, led by visiting Artist-Scholars Soyinka Rahim and Cynthia Winton-Henry on Apr 20-21, was presented as a part of Interplay’s Body Based Methods + Performance Forms and co-sponsored by RCWMS.  

As a white, transgender/gender non-conforming (T/GNC) person of Bohemian and German descent, paying attention to how I may move in the world in less harmful ways can bring liberation, respectful interconnection and joyful engagement to me and to us all.

Before participating in “Changing the Race Dance,” I wondered, how I can discern what harm is really happening to my body, harm that I may be passing on to others? I feel that we as people move through emotionally charged, hot button issues throughout the day due to experiences of oppression in our daily lives. How do I release the pain and follow the wisdom inside of me for healing and for renewal for me and for those I have harmed?

Photo Credit: Smita Misra

In the workshop we practiced large, expansive, free flowing movements of play. I learned to follow my body’s lead, bringing inter-connected integrity into the dance, freeing my body from staid, tight, self-enclosing, routine movements. Before this workshop, I hadn’t questioned nearly enough what I assumed others expected, or actually anticipated, from me.

The joy of moving more freely in being me is seeping through my body from the inside out as I practice the dance I am learning. I am amazed at what I had been missing, what harm I was causing while I was paying attention to following the myth of ‘the way things are.’   

In the face of the reparation and honoring of grief required by the racist oppression in which I have taken part, that which I might feel too much to bear, I have learned that I can keep moving. The rhythm is inside of me, it is the life-giving love that fills me and binds me through the energy of love to all people and all things. In Soyinka Rahim’s words, “BIBO” (Breathe In, Breathe Out) Love.

I have learned from my participation in “Changing the Race Dance” that I can keep moving in love and wisdom, working to unravel and loosen the hold racism has on my ability to live for racial equity and transformation. The dance goes on.