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08/24/09 Saturday’s Group Stitching Mantra / Greensboro, NC

Group Stitching Mantra

Twenty-five women contributed to the first Group Stitching Mantra at the Weatherspoon Art Museum on August 22, 2009. Each person voiced one word or sound of their mantra every time their needle pierced the cloth of their embroidery hoops. Everyone seemed to enjoy stitching and connecting to their voice in community. People were energized by the experience.

When I listen to this recording I hear the group’s desire to harmonize and become one.

At the beginning all voices are in the person role except for the leader’s refrain HELLO – FRIENDS – HELLO, which opens in a member role voice.

Halfway through the recording many more voices can be heard shifting into membership role. Their words become more distinct and take on more authority. These voices seem to lead the harmony as others join with them.

I also hear a few voices punctuating the harmony with difference, but the difference is never fully joined to the point where chaos takes hold.

Two-thirds through the recording you can hear a climax (literally!) as the harmonizers seek to respond to a single voice that stands outside their group. The harmonizing energy rises to meet the difference and in this way the difference becomes integrated into the harmony as call and response. Afterwards the harmonizing continues, but on a slightly different path.

There are many voices that remain in person role, spoken quietly and never clearly enough to be heard. These voices blend to create an indistinct but pervasive white noise in the background. These person role voices only shift to member role as other members become silent. Another way to say this is that the member role is thrust onto them as more and more voices fall silent.

This particular Group Stitching Mantra ends with one such voice, barely audible, repeating the refrain LOVE – LOVE – LOVE, joined only with the breath of another member, as the rest of the group listens.

Finally I wonder if the session had gone longer, would there have been an uprising? What would it take, for members bored or frustrated with the pleasant message and comforting wall of tone that prevailed, to express a difference?

08/20/09 Group Stitching Mantra / Greensboro, NC

Group Stitching Mantra

The Weatherspoon Art Museum invited me to come up with a workshop for “Our Subject Is You.” They said it could be related to the Mantra Trailer or it could be related to my craft work so I came up with a hybrid.

The Group Stitching Mantra is a trans-craft experience. Join me on an imaginative, meditative, communal journey that merges the Eastern spiritual traditions of mudras, mandalas and mantras, and systems-centered practice with the simple act of stitching.

2-4 pm, Dillard Room. $10 members/ $20 non-members. Materials included.
Register by e-mail: t_dowell@uncg.edu, phone: (336) 256-1449, For more information visit the Weatherspoon Art Museum.

I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s a complete experiment but that’s what makes it so exciting! More later…

07/12/09 Mantra Trailer at Mission Creek Music & Arts Festival / San Francisco, CA

The Mantra Trailer will make an appearance at the Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, July 18 from Noon – 4 PM, in John McLaren Park @ Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, near 40 John F Shelley Drive @ Mansell Street, San Francisco, CA.

I’ll be inviting people into the trailer and giving away free CD’s of My Favorite Mantras from NOON until 4 PM. The music lasts until 8 PM. So come out, enjoy the music and explore your mantra!

Appearance sponsored by the Weatherspoon Museum of Art in conjunction with the exhibition, Our Subject Is You.

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07/06/09 Another Round of Camping and Appreciation / Thornton, CA

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The Mantra Trailer ventured out into the world again over the 4th of July disguised as a camper trailer. People at the New Hope Landing Trailer Park and Wimpy’s Marina really enjoyed the mantras. I sometimes forget the kind of impact the trailer makes on the people who witness it. What you can’t see in this picture is the 5 or 6 people who filed out of Whimpy’s during happy hour while I was taking the photo, to share their appreciation of and solidarity with the mantra on the other side of the trailer: GRATITUDE IS MY ATTITUDE.

06/28/09 Hello Museum Visitors / Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC

Thanks for taking a closer look into the Mantra Trailer. It’s a real treat to be a part of Our Subject Is You because it is such a fitting description of my project. I never let people in the Mantra Trailer just to look. They are only allowed to enter if they are willing to be a witness to their own interior. As you listen to the mantras of people who have encountered the Mantra Trailer, you might get a sense of their internal discoveries. Listen for the sighs, the slips, the giggles, the shifts in tone, phrase, and pace.

As you search through the site, if you are listening to a mantra about happiness, for example, click on one of the tags that describe the mantra such as the happiness tag, and you can choose to listen to multiple mantras on the theme of happiness. Date tags will take you to a list of all the mantras recorded on that date. Location tags will take you to a list of all mantras recorded at that location.

The simple instructions I give to everyone who enters the Mantra Trailer are:

1) Center and be present as you repeat your mantra out loud.
2) Continue to repeat your mantra until you feel a resonation with the tone, meaning or rhythm of your voice.
3) Feel free to allow your mantra to shift.
4) Continue until you feel moved to stop.

I hope that you will choose to explore your mantra out loud the next time you have a bit of quiet time. You may be surprised by what you discover!

06/15/09 Our Subject Is You / The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC

Wood_install

If you missed seeing the Mantra Trailer in North Carolina you have a second chance. Well it’s not exactly the real thing but the Weathersppon Art Museum is doing a marvelous installation of the project for
Our Subject Is You. It opens on June 19, 7 – 9:30 PM, at UNC-Greensboro.

I won’t be at the opening but I will be at the Weatherspoon for two public presentations of my work in August:

Artist’s Talk: Sherri Lynn Wood, Thursday, August 20, 5:30 pm

Workshop: Group Stitching Mantra (led by Sherri Lynn Wood), Saturday, August 22, 2-4 pm $10 members/$20 non-members. Contact t_dowell@uncg.edu to register. (More about the Group Stitching Mantra later!)

There is also an exhibition blog.

05/10/09 Just Fishing / Sacramento River Delta, CA

trailer at campground

This weekend I went to the Sacramento River Delta with my friend, Bret, and we took the trailer. But it wasn’t the Mantra Trailer when we left Treasure Island where it’s been parked for almost a year. Without the sign board it was just a fishing trailer and a pretty shabby one at that.

Later in the trip I spent some time putting up new mantras on the blank walls of the trailer and once again it was transformed. See EVERY DAY IS A FISHING DAY.

If I keep the trailer for years to come, it will forever be the Mantra Trailer, even on holiday. From now on I will always travel with the messages recorded in the trailer. There is something magic about the words. They give the Mantra Trailer it’s voice and a presence that seems to emanate from the interior out. It has personality.

12/06/08 Mantra Trailer Translation

Mantra Trailer by Jenny Fogg

This showed up on Flickr recently, Jenny Fogg’s translation. Very cool. Thanks Jenny.

09/15/08 My Favorite Mantras Limited Edition CD

My Favorite Mantras CD

It’s a collection of some of my favorite mantras recorded across the country, including:
I WANT SOME CANDY, CHAZAK CHAZAK VENIT CHAZEK, YOU FOUND A NUT,
EVERY LIGHT SABER BATTLE MUST ADVANCE THE STORY and more!

Make a tax-deductible donation of $25 or more to receive a limited edition CD of 100. Help me pay off project debts!

Make your check to The Southern Documentary Fund and send with your shipping address to:

Sherri Lynn Wood / 410 Ave of Palms, Bldg 1, Ste 306 / San Francisco, CA 94130

06/21/08 Summer Solstice Off the Grid / Stonelake Farm, Bridgeville, CA

If the solstice, the sunset, the ringing of bells are not mantras then what is?

Ringing bells on the Summer Solstice for dailybell2008, with friends at StoneLake Farm, a unique 21-acre off the grid homestead located in Humboldt County, approximately 60 miles southeast of Arcata, California. Close to redwood groves and wild rivers, high on the southwest flank of Buck Mountain, the small farm has goats, chickens, a large garden, orchards, a lively creek complete with dipping holes, flowing waterfalls, and stunning vistas. Thanks to our hosts, Melinda Stone and Francis Lake for an amazing weekend.

06/20/08 Mantra Trailer: 360 / Treasure Island, San Francisco

I made it all the way to the west coast. Over 500 mantras were recorded in the trailer but I only have 200 archived on the website so far. Keep checking back I promise to have more of the travel log and all of the mantras posted by the end of the summer.

It has been an amazing journey and the people I’ve met! Thank you all for making this project with me.

05/06/08 Sunrise in the Canyonlands / Utah

sunrise in the canyonlands

Ringing a bell at sunrise near the Canyonlands National Park. This one’s for you Brenda! Daily Bell 2008

04/29/08 Best Little College Town on the Edge of Illinois / Galesburg, IL

Natania, Me & The Mantra Trailer

Here I am with my home, with Natania in front of her home. My visit to Galesburg was one of the best. The students and faculty at Knox College were outstanding and thoroughly engaged in their work and community. Some of the best recordings of the trip were made here and I got plenty of hugs. People waited for up to 45 minutes for a turn in the trailer. Natania is a poet who teaches at Knox. We met at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts last fall and she hooked me up! Galesburg was a peaceful antidote to Chicago. Lots of space and no parking hassles.

Next stop WEST.

04/26/08 More Than a Friendly Neighborhood Mechanic / Chicago, IL

Andy

Andy was more than a friendly neighborhood mechanic. Early Saturday morning I pulled into his shop after jack-knifing and forcing the Mantra Trailer out of an alley behind Threewalls Gallery. I dented my car car and the rear fin of the trailer. I was devastated. Andy said there was nothing that could easily be done to take out the dent, but he could fill the split seams with silicon so there wouldn’t be any leaks. As I watched him thickly ice the trailer seams with black silicon, he could tell I was still upset and simply explained that when there is nothing that can be done you have to move forward.

I can’t explain it but he was awesome. Later that evening he took me out to dinner and the split seams, dents, and devastation seemed like a blessing.

Thanks Andy!

04/18/08 I Need a Mascot / Chicago, IL

winston and the mantra trailer

I met Liz and her pug Winston in Chicago on Michigan Ave. People were lining up to have their photo taken with Winston which made good business for the trailer. He is a most irresistible dog. Liz has the perfect civic engagement project. All she needs to do is stand on a street corner with Winston. If only it were that easy to draw a crowd with the Mantra Trailer! To see more adorable pictures of Winston and his friends visit his blog – winstonthepug.com.

04/11/08 Chicago Schedule / Three Walls Gallery, Chicago, IL

April 11 – 27, hosted by Three Walls Gallery, Chicago, IL

Here’s the current schedule of Mantra Trailer appearances in Chicago:

April 18, 11 am – 3 pm, the drive at 401 N Michigan Ave.

April 22, for students only, A.N. Pritzker Elementary School, Wicker Park

April 26, 10 am – 2 pm, Hyde Park Art Center, Creative Move: Moving Mountains, 5020 S Cornell Ave.

Life Radio Broadcast:

April 24, 10 am – Noon, “God Talk” on Vocalo.org 89.5 FM

04/06/08 Visiting Friends / Cincinnati, OH

cincinnati friends

Visiting my friend Denise Burge, a visual artist, in Cincinnati and meeting some of her best friends at a cookout in her backyard. Denise is a down and dirty Carolina girl and she was and always will be the hostess with the mostess. She also teaches art at the University of Cincinnati.

What a great turn out at the University of Cincinnati. The art faculty secured me a killer location right in the middle of the flow. I had a steady stream of students. Some stayed in the trailer so long I had to check in on them and break them out of their trance. Some came back two or three times with friends. The art and architecture students turned out for the lecture and asked great questions around ideas of psychogeography and anthropology. Look for an upcoming piece on the Mantra Trailer by me and Denise in the psychogeography issue of the online journal Drain.

04/04/08 Defiant Participation / Bethany College, WV

were all in shit together

The weather was gloomy and the participation was light yet defiant at Bethany College, my alma mater. It seems some students wanted something edgier on the side of the trailer. Over night the mantra changed from WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER to WE’RE ALL IN SHIT TOGETHER. It brought back memories of late night pranks wrought during my college days.

04/01/08 Entitlement / University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

mantra trailer

After interacting with people all day I noticed that I was nicer and less demanding to the cashiers at Kinko’s, Smoothie King, and the Harris Teeter. Not that I’m rude usually but as a consumer I seem to carry around an inner voice of entitlement. It’s a voice so embedded that I normally don’t notice it. After a day facilitating the Mantra Trailer at the University of Virginia, I lost the embedded feeling of entitlement and noticed it’s absence. Like noticing silence after the repetition of a mantra.

I’m not sure why this happened. Maybe because I spent the day being open to every experience? Maybe from the careful act of listening? Maybe from being in the position of asking for participation? Maybe from relationship exhaustion???

03/29/08 Graciously Accepting Rejection / Davidson College, Davidson, NC

I was at Davidson College the day after their Friday night NCAA win. It was cold and rainy and a large percentage of the student body was in Detroit but I still managed to get 19 people into the trailer. Their mantras were awesome.

I felt a new sense of integration while interacting with people who were less interested in participating. Graciously accepting rejection eased the experience of discomfort for me and the rejecting audience. Letting go of a personal sense of rejection freed me to encounter the next exchange with fewer defenses.

03/28/08 Setting Up the Mantra Trailer / Durham, NC

This is the first day of the cross-country tour. The kick off is tonight at the Center for Documentary Studies. I’ll be presenting the project during the Fresh Docs program. “Setting Up the Mantra Trailer” was shot in January with Erika Simon in Atlanta, GA. We edited it this week for it’s premier tonight at Fresh Docs.

03/17/08 Cross Country Tour Schedule

March 21, 6 – 9 pm, Scrap Exchange, Third Friday Culture Crawl, Durham, NC

March 28, 6:30 – 7:30 pm, Fresh Docs: Work in Progress, Center for Documentary Studies, Durham, NC

March 29, 1 – 5 pm, Davidson College, Art Fest – Student Union, Davidson, NC

March 30, 6 – 7:30 pm, Downtown Charlottesville, VA

April 1, 10 – 2 pm, University of Virginia, Near South Lawn, Charlottesville, VA

April 4, 10 – 2 pm, Bethany College, Benedum Commons, Bethany, WV

April 7, 10 – 2 pm, University of Cincinnati, Student Union, OH

April 11 – 27, Three Walls Gallery, Chicago, IL, Here’s the current schedule of Mantra Trailer appearances in Chicago:

April 18, 11 am – 3 pm, the drive at 401 N Michigan Ave.

April 22, for students only, A.N. Pritzker Elementary School, Wicker Park

April 24, 10 am – Noon, Live radio broadcast – “God Talk” on Vocalo.org 89.5 FM

April 26, 10 am – 2 pm, Hyde Park Art Center, Creative Move: Moving Mountains, 5020 S Cornell Ave.

April 28, 10 – 2 pm, Knox College, Student Union, Galesburg, IL

May 2, 5 – 8 pm, Art Students League & Platte Forum, Denver, CO

May 14 – 16, Interrupt! Intervene! Conference on Interventionist Art, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA

May 24, Subversive Complicity, The LAB, San Francisco, CA – location & time to be announced

02/14/08 Sunset at the Sunset / San Francisco

Brenda Hutchinson is ringing bells at sunrise and sunset. She is convinced that “something as inarguable as the movement of the earth can be used as a point of unity and awareness among large groups of people who might otherwise find it impossible to agree.”

I’m house sitting for Brenda in the Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco. She lives ten blocks from the ocean. I decided to join her mantra of bell ringing – at least for one day. You can join her too at DailyBell2008.

02/05/08 YES WE CAN – Obama’s mantra

Barack Obama’s campaign mantra YES WE CAN is a classic. When I’m talking to people about mantras almost everyone can identify with the children’s story “The Little Engine That Could” The little train takes on the task of delivering christmas toys to the needy when all the other big industry engines ignore the plea for help. The little engine’s mantra is I THINK I CAN. I THINK I CAN.

I hope Obama and the rest of us can get over the big hills in Washington. YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! I’m supporting Barack Obama. I hope you will to! On that note, here’s a mantra recorded during the tour to Florida – GO OBAMA GO!

01/19/08 Mantra Trailer Trailer – spoils of desire

This is the third in a series of Mantra Trailer Trailers that explore transitional states of being. An affair of the heart can be irresistible in the moment but ultimately what are you left with when it’s all over?

01/15/08 Mantra Trailer Trailer – you belong here

This is the second in a series of Mantra Trailer Trailers that explore transitional states of being.

For the last few years I’ve set my sight on relocating to the Bay Area. I arrived today in the Berkeley Hills where I’m staying with a friend for a few weeks while getting acclimated to the area. Personally the Mantra Trailer journey is about finding home, uprooting and sending out new shoots. The mantras included in this trailer were recorded by three of my best friends in Durham, NC. I asked them to consider a mantra that addressed their sense of place, neighborhood, home and community.

01/11/08 Summit Coffee / Davidson, NC

me with trailer

My last stop on the winter tour finishes with another warm reception in the college town of Davidson, NC – plus a mention in the local news blog, DavidsonNews.net.

Thanks to another truly AWESOME host, my dear friend Buzz and his friends at Summit Coffee.

01/08/08 Open & closed communities / Athens, GA

The difference between college towns like Athens, GA and tourist communities like Daytona Beach are night and day, open and closed. I must have archived close to 30 mantras on College Ave in Athens. There were plenty of curious folks ranging from the homeless, to students, to prospective students, to professors, to musicians. Many people approached me, eager to find out what the deal was with the trailer. In stark contrast to the suspicious rejection of the trailer in Daytona Beach, I began to wonder about people on vacation and the need to be in control in unfamiliar territory.

Many thanks to my awesome hosts Chris Hubbard, the creator of the Heaven and Hell Art Car and Susan Staley.

01/07/08 The sacred vs the image / San Sebastian State Park, FL

sand sculpture

I took the day off and enjoyed the beach at San Sebastian State Park. When I walked over the crest of the boardwalk I saw salmon blue clouds and the peep of the sun over the horizon. I had decided to get to the beach early enough to watch the sunrise and it was astounding. There were multiple flocks of sea birds worshiping the sun at a single point on the beach. My first impulse was to grab my camera and try to capture the image of natural beauty in front of me, but then I would miss seeing it for myself.

On this journey I decided not to image the “natural” landscape without evidence of human intervention. The experience of witnessing nature is a sacred event when it moves the heart. This is not an experience that I can bring to you through an image. I thought about the way images dilute the sacredness of a place. With better and better imaging technology we are tricked into believing that seeing the image is just as good as experiencing the real thing and more convenient to boot. If people choose not to experience nature first hand there will be no witness, which can lead to inaction, to the deadening of the spirit, and to the diminishing of our sense of and desire for the sacred.

I’ve also decided not to take any images of the interior of the Mantra Trailer for the same reason. It’s a space to be experienced, explored and witnessed from the heart. Like our own interiors, like nature, the interior of the Mantra Trailer is not a curio or spectacle to be merely viewed, or examined.

For those who do not have the opportunity to experience the Mantra Trailer in real life, I invite them to look inward to imagine the interior space. Imagine a comforting oasis, a warm, bright womb.

01/06/08 Melbourne Beach Municipal Parking / Melbourne Beach, FL

After all my bad luck in Florida I stopped in this public parking lot for two hours determined to record at least one mantra. I got three!