September 27, 2016 Blog No Comments

art-and-food3We hosted a benefit for Moveable Feast entitled Art + Food = Life. It was a wonderful spirited event embodying what the title implies – Life is the union of these two forces, one being a necessity, the other an interpretation of life’s significance. How did they come together and what happened when they did? That’s what I’ll write about.

Moveable Feast provides meals, delivered to the homes of Hospice care patients who are too sick to care of themselves and their dependents.  It’s run by volunteers who deliver 150 meals a day. It is a labor of love and purpose. (see www.feastlex.org)

Their fundraising Sunday Salons bring a fascinating cross section of people together. The concept is to feature creative people such as writers, musicians, and visual artists along with culinary chefs to cook fabulous food, hosted in homes that embody the creative spirit of the event. For ours, we highlighted creative people in our neighborhood who grace our daily life including the art work of friend and neighbor Lynn Sweet, the culinary talents of our neighbors who run fabulous restaurants, Cole’s and Dudley’s and of course Lee’s piano music accompanied by guitar, violin and vocals.

So what does the title mean; how does an event like this embody Life? Here are some of my thoughts along with supporting quotes from creative masters.

ART

Through art we are better able to see and experience the meaning of life. It gives us inspiration, perspective and influences our daily experience. Oscar Wilde’s quote “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”. (1889 essay The Decay of Lying) comes to mind. Our experiences are greatly influenced by how artists of all types see life through their eyes.

Divine Inspiration: Most artists, no matter what their modality of expression, are sharing a personal and inspired vision of life. It’s serves to give the viewer a window into their world of inspiration. The creative is a divine gift, an innate talent that for most is a calling that can’t be ignored, a passion that has to be applied. For many it embodies a level of devotion and intensity of focus. As we engage in sharing their inspiration, we get transported to another level of understanding of the human experience.

 “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but the inward significance.” Aristotle

New Perspectives: Artists give us new ways of looking at the ordinary and turns it into the extraordinary. Their creative lens highlights the world and allows us to consider other perspectives and meaning.

At our event, we saw how flower arrangements can be masterpieces, highlighting the burst of color, texture and form of flowers and greenery sculpted into a grand artistic expression of life. Our fresco artist neighbor rides his motorcycle in the country, taking pictures of gnarled wind twisted trees along the road and turns them into color saturated expressions of life forms that most of us don’t notice.  Lee’s music gives us a soulful and uplifting expression of life – changing the mood of the event.

All together, these artists changed the tone of our event from one about taking care of people at the end of their life, to a celebration of giving and sharing.

 “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” Picasso

 FOOD

We have to eat, yet most of us have been able to turn our love of food into a pastime of splendor. Having a good meal cooked by restaurant chefs is a luxury many of us take for granted. There is another perspective.

Life sustaining: At this event, we were reminded that those facing serious illness are often unable to shop and cook for themselves. Poor nutrition works against healing. Feeding people who are so ill becomes the only right thing to do.  Having our top chefs donate and cook for this event was profound.

This lesson was the motivation for starting Moveable Feast seventeen years ago when many people with Aids were dying.  Friends realized too late, after someone died, that he was unable to shop or cook and too filled with social shame about his condition to speak up about his need. The lack of good food contributed to the death toll. Now anyone in Hospice care who is unable to feed themselves are eligible for this service.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa

Comfort and compassion: As I wrote about last week, the act of cooking food for one another is an important tradition in all cultures. In end of life situations, it expresses our compassion and provides comfort. Having people bring food to your home daily adds to that experience.

We learned that the people delivering food are often the only people who see these patients daily. There is bonding that happens, there is involvement and eyes on the ground to know what is happening in someone’s life. Some of these relationships have been going on for 17 years. That’s profound.

 “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” Cesar Chavez

HOW IT = LIFE

The Combination of bringing artists and chefs together did in fact give us a life affirming, fulfilling experience. There was a renewed sense of purpose to be enjoying those things together.

Purpose: When art and food came together for a purpose, everyone paid attention. The artist’s forms of expression, from flowers, to canvases to music were more noticeable and the food more appreciated. It was interesting to have it wrapped together to make a point, one that is often unknown or unappreciated.

Being part of something that has meaning gives everyone a stronger sense of purpose. People wanted to know more about how they could help and how they could be more involved. That was the point.

Links us together: There was such an interesting cross section of people involved, all coming together for a common goal. When someone told their story of being a client and receiving food, she conveyed the heart-felt relationships behind the service. She brought the purpose home and linked us to one another.

So what is the final summation of this experience? I’ll let the quotes speak for themselves.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

“Food for the body is not enough, there must be food for the soul.” Dorothy Day

When life has purpose, when it has creativity, when it is shared with people you love and care about, it is a sign of living well. These are the things I consciously worked on to make my life more fulfilling. It became apparent for me at this event. I realized that indeed, I am living my dream.

In my work through Spectrum Transformation Services, I help others step into a life that has purpose and meets their dreams and aspirations. In a few weeks, I’ll be conducting a workshop entitled “STARTING OVER – Relaunching Any Aspect of Your Life” If you’d like to get closer to the life of your dreams, consider this workshop. It’ll give you the tools to make it happen. See my website for more details www.spectrumtransformationservices.com. It is Saturday October 15 and Sunday October 16 from 1:00-4:00pm at Centered. I’d love to hear from you.

Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com