Plymouth sets the scene on a hill surrounded by forests. It’s the kind of space that makes one feel peaceful and inspired. In We’ll Be Here, we are “held” by the tree growing over the couch, offering shade. The trees in the background offer protection. And we catch a glimpse of hope as we look to the mountains continuing to meet the sky. The mountains remind us of the vast possibilities that are out there, just waiting for us to explore.
At Plymouth, I studied in many areas of the arts (visual, dance, theater, writing, music). My professors were encouraging and supportive when I wanted to make connections between these methods and to bring the work all back to being a human in this world and our connection to the people around us.
In We’ll Be Here, there is an empty red couch in the middle of the beautiful college campus scene. For me, this couch specifically refers to the red couches that my evolving group of friends used to sit at multiple times a day in the dining hall. I found “the couches” by connecting with one person there, and quickly discovered that there was a real committed group of people who would gather in this central meeting place. I was swiftly welcomed into the group and continued to watch and participate in welcoming new people to it. This was my first real experience of finding a literal and physical meeting place where one could show up and know that “we’ll be here.” Through the rest of my life I have been striving to find this sense of community and full acceptance - not to mention playfulness, intelligence, and inspiration.
In creating the piece, I used the whole process as an act of reconnecting with this sense of community. Now a practicing Expressive Arts Therapist, I use art to actively engage others to promote self-reflection, connection with one another, and to address big questions. Sometimes I am leading others in their own artistic process, and in this case I was working through my own. I reached out to many “couch people” and asked for them to share reflections about their time in this community. I learned even more than I had already known about these dear friends. Many of them shared how this space grounded them through hard times and continues to inspire them in their lives going forward. And as their words add more meaning to the piece and the process, I have painted some of them into the piece itself.
One day in my senior year at Plymouth I had a conversation with Tom Driscoll that I remind myself of frequently. I have always been eager to do more and experience more and I love trying new things. I was participating in art, dance, theater, poetry readings, you name it. That was all great, except that I was starting to get overwhelmed and confused. Tom saw what was happening for me, and explained that I could choose to get to experience a little part of each of these, or I could make some choices to dive more deeply into certain areas. This helped me connect to what is important to me. Yes, I am still always trying something new, but these days, I center myself, remember this conversation, and check in with what is most important to me.
What is most important to me is to participate in and inspire change, creativity, and connection. Now when I feel the waves of possibility washing over me from every direction, I connect with the groundedness of who I am and where I stand in all of it. When I choose a direction to follow the flow of inspiration, I am now more fully present for it.