Red Thread Letter #898
The Lineage Continues
our 3 Ingredients + our Big News
My mother Caron used to say to me: “Honey, it isn’t just intention, we must be intentional about the intention itself, it is one layer beyond just intending to make something. So put your heart into it, whether you are knitting a scarf, making a soup, hemming your dress, making love, or creating a painting of one of your Muses.”
In our chosen lineage we intend to and are aware of bringing our being-ness, our love, and our intelligence into our creations. Using the Intentional Creativity approach we impact what is being created, the one creating and the ones interacting with the creation, and we respect all of creation. We know that energy impacts matter so the quality of energy that we bring to the making amplifies and transforms our creations. Is there any other way to be, truly? That offers this level of awareness and respect? Intentional creativity exists in all spiritual practices and lineages – it is inherent within a human being’s relationship with creation itself.
Here at MUSEA, we are choosing to focus on that awareness specifically – what we call Intentional Creativity, and to study it with devotion, research it with a keen mind and experience it as a path of practice. Let’s see what becomes possible in our lives when we consciously curate our relationship with ourselves and our lives. When life is lived without intention, we make choices as a species that do not consider the inter-connectedness and the sacredness of life. Sue Hoya Sellars, my second mother used to say: “All life is sacred, that means we as artists are sacred, and so are our creations.”
Sue teaching while speaking to trees
In addition to this level of awareness, another ingredient in our lineage is the passing on of our gifts. This ‘passing the gift’ from hand to hand is something we find in our ancient families and our modern families, an idea that is truly cherished and most often, quite intentional. Here at MUSEA, we are bringing our focus to how and what we share – to in essence choose to be healers, educators, and wisdom-keepers, as part of our responsibility in the great unfolding of time and life itself.
My grandmother Eden McCloud was a healer, herbalist, storyteller, seamstress, carpenter, artist, and pattern-maker who intentionally passed her gifts on to my mother Caron. She was experienced in the written and visual arts and had no college education. Just yesterday I passed one of my grandmother’s recipes to a woman in the gallery, remembering my mother’s voice about how to make it as I wrote it on a post-it note. My Mother and Grandmother taught countless women how to develop their craft for work and to sell, this was part of my growing up – most often the women were in our home learning.
I can hear my grandmother teaching a woman how to truly iron a dress my mother had made, so it was ironed well enough to go to market. I can hear the steamer, and hum of the sewing machine. Eventually, they taught hundreds of women to make dresses based on my mother’s designs and my grandmother’s patterns. Late at night, after all the work was done, we would write and tell stories and poetry. My grandmother got me my first type-writer when I was barely old enough to write. I was given paper, and pens and tools and taught to use them. I had my own scissors, and soon enough, my own screwdriver. My grandmother could fix almost anything, whether it was plumbing, a car, or a sewing machine. Yet she also competed in storytelling and visual arts, often receiving awards for the her work. I spent many hours at my grandmother’s work table. She passed many of her gifts to my mother, who passed them to me. I didn’t ever learn to sew the way they taught me, but I brought what they taught me into my life, and into my business. Because quietly in the background of the conversation was this potent awareness, women making a living on their own terms here in Sonoma County where I live now.
Mama Caron in front of a tapestry and dress that she designed
I had two mothers, Sue Hoya Sellars was a part of my family long before I was born. She remained with my family until the day she walked into her future. Sue grew up in an extremely harsh environment, and yet she knew she was an artist and had a pretty good idea of who she was early on. In her early teen years, she came across the artist, Lenore Thomas Straus. Lenore was a writer, poet, photographer, book-maker, illustrator, sculptor, builder and so much more. She brought Sue into her home, began to teach her across all mediums, and had her women artist friends show her what they knew. By the age of 18, she had studied stone, metal, wood, clay, paper, print, and more. She came to San Francisco in the 80ies and worked as an illustrator at Stanford. She met my family in the early 60ies and began to share her gifts with us.
Between my mother Caron and Sue we had a potent mix of the written and visual arts, as well as the tending and stewarding of land and systems related to land and lots of ideas about physical healing and how it works. And then all of us kids over the years learned many things from them, as well we also learned from my aunt Janet Seaforth, who was also a student of Sue. Yet Janet is an experienced martial artist, so we also practiced martial arts. There are many more interpersonal family stories of how all this worked, but that is for another day.
Lineage of women in Sonoma – Shiloh Sophia, Janet Bollow Alleyn, Janet Seaforth,
Bridget McBride, Sue Sellars, Lenore Thomas Straus, Caron McCloud, Karen Peterson,
JJ Wilson, Front: Sonia Peterson
As I was growing up – all of this rich depth of art, and art with awareness was passed to me, quite intentionally. No one had a college education in our family until quite recently. Our education was passed from hand to hand, heart to heart. I attended college for a while but had to leave for financial reasons. I went to school full time and worked full time and still even with all of the loans and grants and scholarships for my grades, I wasn’t able to continue. I did my two years of community college but wanted more. One year at Dominican College left me with debt it took me years to pay. I tried again at the Academy of Art, and couldn’t finance it, and again left with huge debt – in both places I studied art. In both places, I loved learning but received no practical application of the arts to use in life and business.
I left corporate education and my job in corporate to head for the hills to study with Sue at the age of 24, like she learned from Lenore, she taught it to me. By the age of 30 after 8 years of having success with my art, the call to teach was greater than the call to make and sell art. For the past 22 years education in the intentional and healing arts has been a part of my life, with the most focused time being the past 12 years since starting Color of Woman, then moving onto Red Thread, Motherboard and Prisma. My earliest tagline for my business was ‘Nurturing the Soul through Art and Education’.
Me and Sue right after I left corporate to study with her
The third ingredient is the invitation for the women in our community to think of themselves as artists, educators, and healers. When my mother Caron was asked by Mary MacDonald what made her so different from so many others of her time she said “I decided early on that I mattered” And at the end of her physical life, her phrase “Mattering Matters” were some of the last words she spoke that meant something really important to her.
Both Sue and Caron were powerful presences and artists. Yet both of them didn’t think of themselves as educators until 2004 came and we founded our forever community of Cosmic Cowgirls, the root system of our work here. They were both resistant to teaching at first, a few years in fact, until they began to discover what they were holding, was pure gold – and then they wanted to give it to the women who were coming to study with us. With so much gratitude, Sue, my mother, and I got to teach together until 2014. My mother Caron continued to teach with me until 2020.
My mamas Sue and Caron
Our three ingredients – Create with intention, pass on the gifts already you have and begin to think of yourself as someone who matters, who can become an educator or healer to truly make a contribution in this life.
The thing is, we aren’t just here to pass what we know to you so you can pass that on – not just that. Something else – that YOU specifically and uniquely have information and stories and images that are so totally you – how can we design an educational path that creates a way for you to reveal what you are carrying? Our curriculum is designed to invite your curriculum from you – because we need you – women who can think and dream and act for themselves in the coming years. And the world at large, is in great need and can be powerfully blessed by aware awake women doing our work. Don’t you think?
Snapshot from Color of Woman Virtual Graduation Ceremony August 2022
In the coming years, I will speak about additional ingredients, and foundational ideas, including growing up learning from Alice Walker. She brought activism with joy to my world and showed me how to create beauty without anger. Without her, I would not have been able to transform the angst and despair I felt about all the harm in the world. She showed me how and that too is an essential ingredient. This part, bringing the work to the ones who need it, is perhaps at the heart of all that matters to me. This is the part that makes me want to bring form to these offerings in a potent way.
I tell you this story today because we have decided after years of research and planning and practice to open our own university for women, in our own field of Intentional Creativity with our own degree system. We will be accepting students into Musea University for the 2023 calendar year by Solstice in December. Applications to participate in many diverse ways will be made clear in the coming months. For the time being, celebrate this story with us, if you are called, and feel proud of being a part of this community.
While I don’t think you need a degree to do your work or this work. Bringing a formalized honoring container to this body of work and this lineage is what is mine to do in this life. I can’t think of anything I would rather do. Well, perhaps except paint all day….
Thank you for all of your curiosity, support, and cheering us on. Jonathan has been the champion of this project for the past three years in a very devoted way and I wish to honor his work and care in this area of our work together.
So together, let us pass on the gifts, by empowering educators to bring the healing and intentional arts to the world we love so dearly.
With great heart and hope,