Finding purpose in challenging times
Update: The book launch was a success, and Wendy donated $1000 to Transition Kamloops! Thanks to everyone who supported this beautiful project—especially Wendy!
Book launch June 4th @ 6:30 pm, Kamloops United Church Lounge, 421 St Paul St.
How do we find purpose when life throws us a sudden curveball and our old ways of being useful in the world are no longer an option? Kamloops artist and writer Wendy Weseen found an answer: focus on what you still can do and use your talents to do good.
In Weseen’s case, a forced re-evaluation of her capacities spurred a remarkable creative journey: eighty individual books of eco-poetry, each hand-made and featuring a unique piece of original art on the cover.
After a lifetime of raising a family and advocating for others, Weseen found herself severely mobility-impaired and in need of personal care herself. She moved into assisted living—and then the pandemic struck. “This project came to me during the COVID storm. Like everyone else I was in my own boat. Having just moved into a new communal living situation, I felt isolated and marginalized. But I still felt called to do something with my energies as I entered this new phase of my life. I asked myself, ‘How can I balance my poor health with purpose and meaning? What do I still have to offer, what are my skills and gifts, and what activities give me joy?’ And I realized I could still make art and write poetry.”
And so, she did. Starting on March 1, 2020, with the encouragement of fellow artists, family, and friends, Weseen dug back into her creativity and embarked on a two-year book project that is just now coming to fruition. As Wise as Nature’s Wings is a celebration of nature, art, poetry, and the planet earth—with a special focus on birds. The last book was sewn together on May 10.
“The writing, creation and sale of this illustrated handmade book as a fundraiser for earth activists who dedicate themselves to the earth and the more-than-human world was something I could still do despite worn-out bones, loss of mobility and the collateral damage of COVID. Being able to combine this with my love of birds fit together like a glove.”
The books are an homage to birds and Weseen’s personal, emotional experience of nature, expressed through images and combined with her own poetry. It is a sensory feast, interspersed with a few quotations and bird trivia: did you know that male red-winged blackbirds can have up to 15 mates at one time?
Weseen describes this work as “mostly memoir art”: taking found materials and combining them with pieces of previous artworks, creating intricate, multi-textured collages. “It’s been a process of bringing out things that I’ve saved, re-examining them, and re-interpreting them into new combinations.” Materials used include Japanese papers, mulberry papers, photographs, block prints, old books, and even a few seeds and twigs. Each book is unique—and all are gorgeous.
The public is invited to a book launch and reading on June 4th at 6:30 pm at Kamloops United Church Lounge, 421 St Paul St. Light refreshments will be served. Weseen intends to donate all proceeds from the sales of the books to Transition Kamloops, a local non-profit with a strong focus on climate action.
The artist wishes to express her thanks to the Kamloops Arts Council for their financial support and to Transition Kamloops for partnering on the book launch.
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