Art is a way of seeing, of being, and becoming. –Gregory Cajete
I am an alchemist of trauma, an artist: I paint, I dance, I write, I cultivate gardens of imagination and co-creation. Some of my teachers came in unlikely forms. The land was my first teacher, I was born in war thorn, El Salvador. A land breathtakingly beautiful and violent with 23 active volcanos in 21,041 km², a land mass smaller than Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. I grew up in the loving home of landless peasants who till the fields and gather the bounty of the land. My parents learned life by working as hired hands, they moved our family from farm to farm harvesting coffee, sugar or cotton. My father signed his name with an X, and my mother taught herself to read and write. My mother taught me courage is a practice of living life (whatever the circumstances) with dignity. A storyteller with keen sense of wonder, she taught us through stories what others perhaps learned from books. Life was a dance with challenges, the scars of hunger and loss. Weathering, the storm of war, and finding pleasure in small and simple moments.
Knowledge is not wisdom, but wisdom is knowledge in action –Ojibway poet, Richard Wagamese
I learned about the Ceibas, a sacred tree to the Maya people; the trees like my people have roots reaching deep into the earth, with branches and hands stretch out to the heavens. The storms in a tropical forest are fierce, with water cascading from the skies like waterfalls dissolving rocks and homes in the water’s path. I learned to respect the power of Mother Earth, and also to honour its bounty and healing powers.
My mother taught me about embracing life’s storms with grace. She stands deeply rooted in her reverence of life and lives in awe of the miracle of life unfolding each day. I learned to love life, regardless of the weather. She knew of no books that could help us, as the war, took our home, my family, the only true home I had known. War taught me, my heart is my only true home.
Life is a path to Life. –Artist, Ernesto Pujol
We learn what we care about. I care about connection; having felt the pain of displacement from the people and places I love, connection is what matter most to me. My teaching like the forests of my life, is coloured by many languages of academic knowing, opening portals to see the complexity and interdependence of our social, political, ecological, and economic structured worlds. I am also opened, to the artful ways we co-create with life, even in the most hostile circumstances. Life always finds a way.
Walking alone and with others is a practice of grounding. To feel connected to Earth, is to be rooted to wholeness. I teach to create community engagement, to nurture curiosity, wonder, humility and flow. We teach who we are, my deepest desire is to create connection. My teaching flows from this one commitment. I mentor students to find what they are passionate about, to open communication with themselves, in search of their authentic voice, in awe of their passions to create with life. I share processes in every class to nurture their creativity and connection to their spirit. Learning how to live and coexist well is as important as learning to work well with others and learning how to make a living.