Category Archives: Miranda Writes

The Expressive Technique (aka Dumbledore’s Pensive)

When my mind or my heart gets too full and I finally start listening to what my body needs, I inevitably find myself in my studio. As an interdisciplinary artist, I have many avenues at my disposal to get whatever is rattling around my brain outside of me. They are not mechanical techniques or well-practiced procedures, instead this is the time when pens, paintbrushes, and guitar strings become a crude instrument for removing weight that I don’t want to carry around right now.

This is, perhaps, the most important part of art. Thankfully, it’s also the part that the most people have access to. It takes training and practice, yes, but not in intellectually guarded mechanical techniques. Instead, this is the technique of expression. It requires the practice of things that everyone has access to: listening, vulnerability, trust, patience, kindness, and courage.

When I step back and look at the final product, following the expressive technique has produced both my worst and best art. The sentimental and the sublime. Normally, when I’m in the thick of expression, I can’t tell which is which and if I start thinking about the product, it ends up stymying the expression. Instead, I think about how to squeeze out every drop of discomfort that I have been carrying around. And if I do that, it’s working.

Art, at its best, is a vehicle through which we can temporarily relieve ourselves of the weight of our lives. Like Dumbledore at his Pensive, we extract thoughts from our mind through something not quite so different from magic. Then, once they are outside of us, we can stand back and examine them with a little more distance and a lot more compassion.

Unlike Dumbledore’s magic, it takes skill to be able to extract our thoughts through creativity. Artists are the ones who have spent the time learning expressive techniques and mechanical techniques, knowing when, how, and what to turn the weight of their souls into.

Throughout time, the artists who have made their way into our collective memories are the ones who have mastered the interweaving of these two styles and left us amazed at their mechanical mastery and humbled my their expressive capacity.

This is what great art can do: a single person’s expression can model for a multitude what it’s like to draw your life’s weight outside of yourself so that you have a little more room to breathe. How many times have each of us driven heartbroken down the highway only to turn on the radio or pop in the CD that gives voice to what is trapped inside of us? Or been so filled with joy that we need an expansive soundtrack in order to fully express it?

Imagine what would happen if more of us were trained and given the permission to try our hand at that expression, even if what we end up creating is objectively terrible. Isn’t it enough to use expression to relieve ourselves of our own weight, even just for a little while? Isn’t it amazing if, by some small change, it helps someone else with their burdens along the way?

I will not be filled with hate.

I will not be filled with hate. I can feel it hurtling towards me, heated by the fire of your tiki torches, trumpeted by the chanting of your racist slogans, engraved in the photographs of your snarling faces. It ravages; fueled by the husks of dark history built into this country’s foundation, a wildfire sparkedContinue Reading

Daring to Write Your Own Story

I write to explain myself to myself. To take the things that have happened to me, especially ones where I have felt disempowered, and tell them as if I had planned for everything to happen. As if living through a divorce, which left me distrustful of anyone’s ability to commitment, was something that needed toContinue Reading

Crafting the Hearth Narrative

Crafting the Hearth Narrative

When we were kids, my older sister organized the books in her room in a personalized Dewey Decimal system. Three and a half years younger, my job was to cut all the bits of masking tape to go on the bottom of the book spine so that she could write the appropriate numbers on them.Continue Reading

Learning how to dance again

Learning how to dance again

It wasn’t until quite recently that I began thinking of myself as a Dancer. Labels like this take a lot of confidence to claim. I’ve finally found that Artist fits me, as does Painter. Potter, in the past sense. Musician, sometimes. Writer, sometimes. I’ve been trained, at least a little, in all of the above. Dance, onContinue Reading

Community: An Inconvenience

Community: An Inconvenience

In the past two weekends, I have been reminded exactly why I spend so many of my waking hours organizing events, posting on social media, worrying about whether anyone is going to show up at said events, and obsessing over the best ways of facilitating authentic communication between the people who show up. It’s notContinue Reading

The Privilege of Choice

I was eight years old the day the towers fell. The one memory I hold from that day is when my mum told us what had happened. She picked me up from my classroom, where the teachers had kept the news to themselves, and we had just gone to get my older sister. It was a beautifulContinue Reading

A Year in the Arena

A Year in the Arena

I’m not a very private person. I attempt to live my life in such a way that it’s a story worth telling and I deeply enjoying sharing that story, almost as much as I enjoy hearing the stories of the people around me. Or, better yet, creating one together. This year, my friends, we’ve taken that toContinue Reading

On Responding to Tragedy

On Responding to Tragedy

-written by Hearth Founder, Miranda Aisling It’s been over a week now since the tragedy in Orlando and I’ve been struggling with how to respond as an individual, an artist, and a community organizer. There is, of course, the grief and the fear and the anger that such a horrific thing has yet again occurredContinue Reading

On Grieving and Grandparents

On Grieving and Grandparents

Over the past three and a half years, the three biological grandparents that I’ve had any sort of relationship have died.  These have been my first real experiences with death, apart from pets and distant relatives.  Through these experiences, I have begun to push back against what we’re taught about grieving, that it is a sadContinue Reading