The Inspiration Behind “Spirit”, My Up-cycled Silverware Deer Sculpture
Hello, friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve written.
February is such a good month for hibernating, isn’t it? I usually manage to get some of my best work done during this time of year, too. Perhaps it’s because I am conserving energy (from not doing other things) and have a little extra juice to pour into my creations. My own process is often reflective of the natural environment I feel so connected with here in Muskoka. Much of the flora and fauna that are a part of my home have also gone dormant for the last 4 months or so, but under the surface of what we see there is much being done.
Many of you know that most of my sculptural work is inspired by the woodlands and lakes surrounding my home. I pay close attention to the animals that make an appearance in my day to day life, and since last Spring, one of these animals has been the White-Tailed Deer. I have seen them in abundance, alive and dead. I have collected many skulls and bones on my hikes and have had numerous opportunities to get close and study their behaviours and habitats. They are beautiful, fascinating creatures!
I am struck by the strength and beauty of these animals…..yet, even more profoundly by their gentleness and vulnerability.
Here in Muskoka this past year, I have seen an unusual amount of road kill deer. I wouldn’t necessarily say that they are easy prey, but they are commonly hunted by humans, and are also a food source for coyotes, wolves, bears and other predators. It seems like a bit of a paradox that such large and powerful creatures are as susceptible as they are.
All of these sightings lead me to wonder about the similarities between my own nature and that of the White-Tailed Deer.
I consider myself a very sensitive individual, but out of necessity I’ve built a suit of armour around my emotional nature over the years. I can’t tell you how often as a child I was devastated by some situation or circumstance and was told, “You are way too sensitive…toughen up!” And how else could I fit in and function in this society without strengthening my mind and allowing my “skin to thicken” in order to protect my innate vulnerability? This reaction was instinctive, subconscious…..and necessary for my survival.
I believe all humans do this to varying degrees, depending on their life circumstances and level of sensitivity.
Well, here’s the thing. I began to see that behaviours which once protected me were no longer serving me. Actually, my defence mechanisms where preventing me from living up to my full potential and my ability to be fully present within my life, so I decided to change some things.
Over the past several years I have been working hard to disarm myself; To strip away my ego defences and become more open, soft and connected to people and situations that arise. In doing so I have been finding my way back to the land of FEELS! I have built up a lot of walls in my 41 years and behind each one of them has been a hidden world of emotional intensity. The full spectrum of fear, pain, joy, hurt, confusion, amazement, anxiety, wonder……you name it, I have felt it and continue to do so.
To say this has been challenging is an understatement. My default for so long has been to numb out, shut down, or disappear into hard work every time some intense emotion bubbles up to the surface of my awareness. But now I am learning a new way….or rather, relearning an old way! This feels like a full circle journey – reclaiming my childhood sensitivity and openness, yet with all of the wisdom and experience that comes with age. I am making an empowered choice to live out in the open, heart forward – responding consciously, rather than following old patterns and scripts.
Over this last year I have found it helpful to visualize myself as a deer : Powerful, yet vulnerable. Strong in my gentleness. Connected and open to spirit.
Feeling a strong urge to create a piece in honour of this magnificent messenger animal and my journey back to myself, I started to build a deer head sculpture last December. I chose to build just the head, as a mount, in the same way many hunters keep a trophy of their “kills”. I feel as though this piece is a symbolic celebration or “trophy” of what I’ve accomplished so far, and the work I continue to do in reclaiming my true nature.
Next blog post: How I created “Spirit”, my up-cycled silverware deer sculpture.