heARTmaking: a collaborative, community post

In offering calls for collaborative, community posts like the one shared here, it is always my hope that fellow seekers and creators will be sparked, inspired, and want to share their thoughts and artworks. For today's topic: heARTmaking, we are featuring three beautiful shares from:

Casey Bee
Sue Hasker

As an introduction to this topic, my mind has been mulling around with various memories and ideas on heARTmaking that I (Kara) wanted to share with you as companion to our features. For me the word heARTmaking first came into play after the full term stillbirth of my son in the Spring of 1999. I had been an artist prior to his birth/death, but something changed after he physically left us. I was no longer living the life of an artist. I was living life in the face of grief as: heARTist.

Over the years, first in the early 2000s in the KotaPress Loss & Compassion Journal, I wrote about the various definitions and meaning-making processes that came for me around this term. In 2007 as part of the (now archived) Radical Creativity blog, I continued writing about how rituals in the face of grief were more than body art or visual art or movement art, but were more akin to heARTmaking. For me this continual meaning-making process was in parallel to the meaning-making happening as I tried to make sense of the deaths of three of our sons while continuing to find ways to choose to stay alive.

While it is true that much of my process involved art of some kind: visual, movement, body, writing, those particular mediums were not the end-all-be-all definitions of heARTmaking for me. The process was more about the creation of a life in the face of loss. The every single day choices we make to take the next breath and next step even as our hearts are breaking (hopefully open). While the definitions of heARTmaking included artmaking mediums because I happened to be an artist, the definitions also expanded to include the daily choices on things like:

  • Do I get out of bed today?
  • How do I get out bed today?
  • How can I tend my body today?
  • What do I need that I can provide for myself?
  • What do I need that requires the support and love of others?
  • How do I move through the world in meaningful ways today?
  • Will saying "yes" to this bring me more inline with my heart or more out of sync?

Some days the answers were things like:

  • Yes, you will get out of bed just because you have to pee.
  • You will get out of bed today without an alarm, waking at your own rhythm instead.
  • You can tend your body today by going extra slow in all things.
  • I can close the door, unplug, and create silent space for self for just 10 mins now.
  • I can send a text message to a loved one asking for help today.
  • I will do something today in memory of my dead sons, something beneficial to others, something that is beyond the capitalist structure of "making money."
  • I will say "no" if the request made of me will cause more pain.

Can you see how heARTmaking became a practice for me on every level? While artmaking was involved, for sure, simply because I am an artist, it was much more than just the making of art pieces. It was making a cup of tea. It was making a different pace. It was asking for help until I got what I needed. It was crawling into my blanket house to tend when needed. It was being out in public, speaking or showing work or asking questions to counter the modern western medical paradigm that equates grief with sickness or something that needs to be fixed or cured.

So with this collaborative, community call to exploring heARTmaking, this, too, is another bit of making space for we humans to keep seeking and meaning making. For us to create space for each other, to share, to be heard and seen. To acknowledge the on-going process of meaning making, creating new definitions, and continuing our practice (not perfect!).


Casey Bee


Sue Hasker 

"...heART making comes from a deep place, it's more than free creativity or skilled art-making. It comes from the groanings and aha's of the soul that need to be expressed but may not have words or techniques to follow."


Thank you again, to each of you, Casey, and Sue for your community spirit and contributions to this collaborative post. 

If any of our readers are interested in our previous community explorations, you can see our collaborative post on the topic of Invitation here

And if you are interested in future calls for collaborations, you are welcome to a free subscription to our eZine where we offer exclusive grief + creativity materials throughout each month, including first calls for community topics.


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