ISSUE #23 A WOLF & THEIR WOLFPACK

HOW WE’RE FEELING

The wolf has been heavy on my mind this past week. I was reminded of the Netflix documentary ‘The Family’ that talks about a group of conservative Christians’ belief that God has brought Trump to lead them as their “Wolf King”. I’m also reminded of the story of the Two Wolves. And not coincidentally, thanks to Brené Brown’s new podcast, I was introduced to the leadership book Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game by soccer superstar Abby Wambach this past week.

The wolf holds great strength that at first glance I interpreted to mean unleashed, in all its meanings. But in context of the wolfpack, a new meaning of the wolf perspires.

The Story of Two Wolves:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

The wolf as a lone figure vs. a wolfpack is something that I’ve struggled to reconcile for myself. I’ve been slowly mustering myself to feel like a wolf, but I skirt away from such ferocious leadership tactics. That’s beginning to shift, but as of yet in isolated moments within client conversations and tense project moments when I feel the project requires a single driving force.

Wambach describes the role of a wolf vs. wolfpack in her aptly titled book. The following quote rung highest while listening. (the audio book is just an 1hr 10min! and read by Abby herself)

The WolfPack:
“You need a (wolf) pack. The question is how do we build one.

…when you’re new at anything, when you don’t know what to do or how to begin, all you can do is show up, awkwardly and nervously sometimes, and try.

So I’m going to try. I’m going to gather the women I respect, admire, and trust most. I’m going to support them when they need it and ask them for help when I need it. Together we will change our lives and our world by knowing the power of our wolf and the strength of our pack.”

I’ve talked a lot about the desire to feel a sense of belonging in my life and so many artists speak to that same human theme. I’m deeply interested in what it takes to build large scale art, and it’s different than I ever thought. My lessons as a project manager is not simply to embed myself into every aspect of a project or to connect all the resources required to bring it to life.

I build a team from very different parties and individuals who are all needed to realize a design from concept through to installation. The team is never at once together so I act as the binding hardware between all the disparate people, crafts and other resources. I at once need to act as a wolf leading the charge and melt into the glue that formlessly molds to bind all people and processes together.

I have really been focused on what team building means in this difficult time, especially considering remote working from home. What I had failed to focus, and which is just beginning to receive my attention, is uncovering my own wolf.

What does that look like?

My attention is refocusing inwards and outwards at the same time. You’ll see it unleashed over time. Can’t wait to find what this means for large scale art making!


WHO WE’RE WATCHING

I might as well call the Neon Fabrications newsletter, ‘A Search for Belonging’. It’s a lifelong search that I know is taking me by its own reigns. I’m here for the ride and eager to become its storyteller.

Belonging has been a driving factor in many of my personal posts, but also in the artistic work I’ve been uncovering. This week is no different, outside of a very different medium and a newfound artist.

Ledelle Moe is a force. They’re one of those incredible people who can sit with pain and loss for long periods to expose their power. I was taken aback when I came across the major space at MASS MoCA this past weekend full of dozens of large scale concrete and steel sculptures. They’re figural and just barely so. They’re hard but balance precariously as if about to fall and crack, or better yet as if they’ve been decomposing. The concrete looks gorgeous as if sculpted by hand, and indeed it is.

The forms are created by bent rebar welded into a curved gridded form to create cages that are wrapped in metal mesh. Wet and rough concrete is applied to the mesh with the glop pushing through between the gaps in the expanded metal mesh.

“In digging into the soil and quite literally using it as raw material in making my cement forms I was able to reflect on landscape as ground and to literally draw from it. Perhaps this was rooted in some longing to better understand how political and personal histories are inherent in the ever-present awareness of place. Or how ground, land, soil, and earth reference a sense of belonging.“

I’m in love with the feeling that embodies the major hall at MASS MoCA. Both beauty and solemn beauty that somehow doesn’t overwhelm you. Is it a solid grounded-ness that evokes belonging? I attribute that to many things, including the way light washes through the space but also the immediate desire to touch the sculptures that their materiality evokes. I can imagine Moe to be an incredibly steady soul with strong hands and heavy eyes. I’ll leave that a mystery for now.

You can find more on the exhibition, When by Ledelle Moe here.


TOPSHOT – Former vice-president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (L) and Senator from California and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris greet supporters outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention, held virtually amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, on August 20, 2020. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

I’ll always remember where I was, who I was with and how I was feeling Saturday, November 7th 2020. My god, our god, I’m so very grateful.

God Bless America.

With care,
Sean

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