The Common Flame Project is a multi-artist conversation through the Bleeding Heart Art Space on the light and warmth we see in others during such times of division and polarization. From January through June 2022, one artist per month would address this theme as well as the prior artist’s work through their creative process.
For me, I kept returning to the image of a bonfire - a place to gather, to share stories and huddle together to find warmth. But there were so many questions that arose for me too: what happens when you don’t feel safe there? What is the narrative we are protecting? Does our desire for unity require us to stay there?
As I wrestled with my own heartache, attempting to reconcile the division I was experiencing in my own circles and witnessing across the world, I longed for a different kind of flame in a safer space. I chose a mixed media sculpture to explore all of this, using common, everyday, ordinary materials: paper, thread, wire, glue, acrylic paint.
Miniature string can telephones served as the base of the fire - a foundation of truth and connection. What if we first surrendered our voice to the flames, humbly committed to the purification of the stories we would both tell and bear witness to? Only the truth would survive. The lines would have to be pulled taut as we pulled them from the flames - no obstructions, no distortion.
The fire may illuminate that which is uncomfortable, inconvenient and regrettable yet we need not fear it. For these feather “flames” do not consume or destroy, they provide warmth another way. Here we validate and affirm what connects us and learn what continues to divide us. Then we can get to the work of lamenting and grieving and repairing.
I’m convinced we can build a better fire, our voices of truth fuelling the flames. These are the stories of our dignity and flawed humanity - of our sacred interconnectedness: our common flame.