We Are All Artists
That sums up what I want for myself and what I want for you: I want to cultivate the seed that was placed in me until the last small twig has grown.
What I love about the sensibility expressed in Kathe Kollwitz’s quote is the piece that is missing: the narcissism we usually associate with artists, whether they are painters, sculptors, writers or musicians. Kollwitz recognizes that everyone one of us has an indomitable spirit in that wants to see the light of day.
A meaningful life journey does not move forward in a straight line: there are detours, spirals, circles and times when we just stop and need to remove ourselves from the world to focus on the inner journey.
Initially, Kollwitz’s art focused on political themes. Later, her art became more personal. I believe there is a natural transition from engagement with the world where we create an identity based on how other people see us, to the journey into our own authenticity and self-knowledge. This second part of the journey, deepening our relationship with ourselves, doesn’t always happen. When it does, we either choose it or it chooses us when we are forced to disengage from the world, because of crises like illness or financial losses.
The Importance of the Hermit
I love how the Tarot looks at our opportunity for personal growth. We all start out as the Fool, unaware of who we are or where we are going and barely paying attention to what is in front of us. As we move toward self-awareness and self-knowledge, we move through several stages: to truly get in touch with your authentic self, however, it is necessary to spend some time on the path of the Hermit.
The world does not always accept our unique ideas, offerings, or creations. The world can push you into playing small because you will not follow the rules. The small twig, our authenticity, is the part of us that we may have sheltered to protect it from criticism and belittling.
The Hermit’s path is where you complete the cycle of inner growth and understand your true purpose, represented by the last small twig. Here at this stage of the journey is where you claim that you are your own authority in your life. Now that you no longer need approval, acceptance or permission, you can show up in the world with all your brilliance.
Most of us stop short of discovering our true brilliance, the light within you that is meant to shine and be shared with the world. I truly believe each of us is here to generously share our gifts with others. But first you have to find the twig – your authentic self – and then bring it into the light.
A Symbolic Recognition of Your Authentic Self
It’s March. We move into Spring. Where I live it is time to turn the soil and mulch, start seeds for the garden, and put some pansies in the outdoor pots in the garden. By planting the multi-colored pansies, I acknowledge my commitment to keep nurturing the small twig in me.
What will you do now that Spring is here, to recognize the twig in you that is calling out for your attention?
Kathe Kollwitz is regarded as one of the most important German artists of the twentieth century, and as a remarkable woman who created timeless art works against the backdrop of a life of great sorrow, hardship and heartache.
Kathe was born in 1867 in Konigsberg, East Prussia (now Kalingrad in Russia). She studied art in Berlin and began producing etchings in 1880 In 1881 she married Dr Karl Kollwitz and they settled in a working class area of north Berlin. In 1896 her second son, Peter, was born.
From 1898 to 1903 Kathe taught at the Berlin School of Women Artists, and in 1910 began to create sculpture. You can learn more about Kathe Kollwitz at Artsy.