Saturday, January 21, 2017

Headed to the Women's March in Austin today. It's an interesting conundrum. I'm not protesting anything, and just like being in crowds of eclectic people and enjoying the view. Plus, if something is monumental or has the potential to be, I like to be in the center of it. I wasn't going to do this, but my daughters said I should. Then, after I thought about all I have done in these last few months, and what I am going to do, I thought it would be wrong if I didn't participate in a march that lauds women and all we have to offer the world.  We are more likely to have college degrees than men. We are the mothers of all the presidents, doctors, teachers. We are the mothers of everyone. I have found my voice. Perhaps this is an opportunity for all women to find theirs. A voice for positive change is a good thing. 

A friend of mine said I should wear the wedding dress from the AcidNeutral project. I laughed and said, "No it's boxed up in the closet." It's part of the past. I am moving toward the future.




Sunday, April 24, 2016

Acid Neutral Art Project by Clara G. Herrera

Acid Neutral Art Project
By Clara G. Herrera
Twitter: @acidneutralart

Title: A Different Kind of Train

Photo credit: Rachael Ellisor
Garza County, Texas
Enriching Music: If Love Was A Train, Michelle Shocked

Howdy y’all! This is the tale about a divorced bride from Austin, TX. When the crap hits the fan in a divorce, you can do two things. You can either wallow in it, and let it slowly consume you like ashes in a fire, or put your big girl panties on wearing a good pair of cowboy boots and dance on the flames retaking control of your life. I chose to do the latter wearing my wedding dress and trouncing across Texas, and a few other places.
I may be the only woman who has the gumption to haul my old wedding dress in the back of my pickup truck in a scented trash bag to take photos at someone else’s family reunion, with drag queens, in front of the Washington Monument, or while climbing a hay bale. But I am not alone in my decision to divorce. About 69 percent of women are the ones initiating divorce, according to a recent article in the New York Times. 
Even women who have remained in marriages for decades, who are entering retirement years, are not staying in unhappy unions, according to an AARP study. These stateside studies are duplicated abroad, as well. A new wave in the women's movement is not - divorcee - but solo artist. 
In this new liberation, women aren't burning their bras. They are metaphorically burning their marriage certificates.  
And, at least one, decided to drag out an old wedding dress, relabel it Acid Neutral, and create meaningful art for herself, and her children. It is taking something old, making it something new, borrowing nothing, and leaving behind the blue.

Why do this? 
From the beginning, I envisioned this project as my new "Baby Book." You know, when you have a baby, you write down everything and take pictures, noting the date. First step, first solid food, first time saying, "mama." There are even those embarrassing photos of our babies sitting on the potty for the first time.
  Now, I wasn't going to take a photo of me using the potty for the first time in that dang dress after asking my husband to move out and then filing for divorce, but you get the idea. 
The truth is I walked around my house like a caged animal for awhile not knowing what to do.
  I worked out, prayed, cried, listened to music, played basketball with my son, wrote so many dang journals I could invest in a paper company and retire. I continued therapy that I affectionately called "torture sessions," in the beginning. None was enough. I needed to find my own way to heal.
  I wallowed and I hated myself for doing it. I didn't want to be sad anymore. I didn't want my children to see me like this.
This is not who I am. But who am I? I was once bubbly, artistic, a writer, a force. I had to find myself again but didn't know how or where to start looking for me again.
  Consumed by my own thoughts of the past, I thought about my wedding dress in the attic sealed and boxed for my daughters to wear. Why would they want to wear a dress from a failed marriage? 

Why keep it?
Yes, why keep it?  

  Then it literally hit me. What if I haul my butt up to the attic, pull that dang dress out and take pictures of me in it as I dance into this new phase of my life? All of a sudden sadness was replaced by excitement. I gathered my kids on the couch and joyfully told them my idea. Just so you know, my kids are well aware that I am a bit on the quirky, artsy side, so they didn't balk at the idea one bit. "OK mom," they said and then scuttled off to text, play video games, and read.
  In the furnace that is known as Texas in July, I hauled that ladder up the stairs to the attic sweating like a pig as I threw that wedding dress box on the floor. I noticed "Acid Neutral" was written on the glitzy gold box. Didn't know what that meant, so thanked God for Google.
Acid Neutral is when the acidity from paper products is removed so wedding dresses don't yellow over time sitting in that box. It creates pH balance. Just like my life moving forward, I am achieving balance. Only months after completing the full project, I realized green is the color on the pH scale that equals neutral. Green is growth. Green is life. It has always been my favorite color.
       The Acid Neutral Art project is a culmination of photo, song, art, and poetry of an emerging, growing life into the unknown. Just like art, life is all in perspective. You can see a Jackson Pollack as total crap, or you can gaze on it for hours and find meaning in it. You can create new paintings of your own and reinvent yourself with each stroke of a paintbrush on a canvas.
  I have decided to paint in brilliant hues, in life, in rich fulfilling meaning splashed with color. I refuse to let life paint me or leave me blank or muted or devoid of purpose or worth. Besides, what’s fun about being ordinary? It’s just so ordinary.
 I am artistic. I consider myself a solo artist, not divorced. I am moving forward in all the color, glory, and love as the universe intended.

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