Guest Blogger: Debra Harrow

Alive at the Cusp: 

Remaking Our Relations

by Debra Birkinshaw Harrow

About the blogger: Debra Harrow is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, a friend, an educator, a therapist, an engaged Buddhist, and an artist. This doesn’t give her much time to get into trouble. She is currently writing a book, “Honoring Interbeing: An Engaged Buddhist’s Guide To Easing Suffering In The World” that includes ten contributing activists and should be published in 2017. Her husband, Bruce Harrow, is her best playmate, and they like to laugh often together.

A year ago, a group of six lively, articulate and passionate women artists gathered in the small, but well situated, Risk Gallery in Sebastopol, California, for a show exhibiting their collage pieces.

The show, “Alive at the Cusp: Remaking Our Relations” explored ways we might repair ecosystems, species, cultures, economies, and climate systems.

Inspired by Susa Silvermarie’s visionary poem, “A Thousand Years of Healing,” artists Jackie Braun, Sandy Eastoak, Joan Marler, Cynthia Poten, Mary Prisland and I used the fragmented medium of collage to envision bringing broken relations back to wholeness.

The collages combined images of people, animals, birds, insects, and landscapes with natural and abstract forms and rhythms, script, and ancient symbols. Their diverse styles evoked both the complex issues currently facing humanity and enduring beliefs that have been a part of human experience since cave art.

In my own work, I strive to invite some of life’s mystery in, so that viewers can weave their own narrative into the images. Self inquiry led me to define my message as deep reverence for the earth and all her creatures, and an abiding concern for the well-being of all. It was an honor and a joy to express these concerns through the medium of collage with the other five artists.

I contributed two mixed media pieces to the show.

debra blog post painting

“Uprooted” © Debra Harrow

“Uprooted,” taking its palette from the moon and evening sky, has a more pensive quality to it. One figure is firmly rooted to the earth, and upholding the moon among the stars, while the other is torn from it, lamenting the disconnect. There is a smaller image of a clear cut forest, and another of obscuring, ominous clouds.

debra blogpost painting number 2

“Unearthing That Which Lies Beneath” © Debra Harrow

“Unearthing That Which Lies Beneath,” in tones of gold, sepia and sage, shows the mirrored image of a woman toiling with a shovel, breaking new ground to create abundance in the world around her. The duplication of these images is meant to depict the time honored practice of healing the breach, nurturing life.

I draw inspiration from several women artists: Judy Chicago, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Beatrice Wood, and Lily Weh. They have boldly explored their internal world and likewise their connection and impact on the external world. Their work can be seen as political, an invocation to wake up, be with the struggle, and make meaningful changes that are enduring.

The artist Debra Harrow can be contacted at cognizant2@hotmail.com





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