How you do make art? Where? When? Why? Anu Mathur changed several of my perceptions on this topic. And she, I believe, disliked the term art. Perhaps, because such a small word diminished all she was doing. Art, of course, is everywhere and surely, in a mindful sense, frame an angle – and so it is, a work of art. Just as it is. Anu reminded me of this – in her penchant to foster engagement in the natural landscape – rubbings or as seen here, dancing in the marshes of Chester County, Pennsylvania – last spring.
She is dancing, there, with my daughter. They spoke a common language: curiosity, playfulness, and wonder. I am not sure how I will break the news to my daughter – as I am processing the news, myself, on unsettled terms. Anu Mathur passed away from a long, grace-filled warrior fight against cancer. We, 21st Century Earth, are losing her too soon – this round.
She was a great many things, as my recent Op Ed on Race and Mindfulness highlighted. By trade, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Design. To me, she was the kind of mentor I missed out on in traditional schooling: innovator and someone willing to listen to the natural landscape, immersing oneself rather than labeling and seeing how the natural landscape could serve us. This kind of empathic tango, seeds for a community built with Anu and her partner – Dilip da Cunha and friends of the Charlestown Playhouse – Jessica Wolff and Allegra Churchill. We call ourselves TAPESTRY – building a literal something, from nature rubbings and art with nature as our studio; a more beautiful something built from smaller, individual pieces donated towards the end of each workshop.
And we call ourselves TAPESTRY – inspired by the ideas of Anu Mathur, that through mindful immersion rather than past information or knowledge of how we understand the natural world, oneself, and one another – we may build a more beautiful something. Anu will be with every step of my artistry moving forward and in true Anu fashion, I will welcome her whispered critique on my word choices and we will compromise, that words aren’t enough sometimes.
Keep moving forward, whatever you call your efforts – as I will do – to make the world a more beautiful place. And, well, I will look for the bird flying over us, noting that angels never really go away, they spread their wings and evolve.