A colleague noted that the Barefoot Artists generally create projects only in places of extreme poverty, even though there is suffering and brokenness in comparatively rich communities. Germany is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and Gorlitz is a beautiful, medieval town with a historical city intact, yet there is wounding here that runs deep. Perhaps that is why artists from all over the world are drawn to Gorlitz, awakened by the unformed potential that lies within darkness, the vitality and hope that is held within the rubble and decay. The question that arises seems to be, “how do we respond to the unfolding of the individual soul as it wants to reconnect to the soul of Gorlitz?”
Anja, a local artist, expresses it this way: “Gorlitz has a big soul. This soul touches your own soul, every time, every movement, it sees your heart. So many people here are depressed and not in touch with their own souls; we don’t learn to touch our soul. We fight against our soul which causes us to become deficit. If we can see our soul, we can blossom and fall in-love with ourselves and find peace. That is what Gorlitz tells me.”
The Barefoot Artists team is sharing the methodology in creating story poles with people. In this process we first set up a nurturing environment for participants’ personal stories to emerge. We aim that the stories unfold in simple narratives which then find expression in visual images. Based on the individual expressions, the team members work together to find a common language that encompasses our emotions and inspirations. This common language provides a foundation for a public art installation, which is rooted in both personal experiences as well as collective memories of Gorlitz.
The project in Gorlitz is taking place at an old factory site that now houses an NGO as well as studios for various tradesmen. Numerous brick buildings are in various stages of decay. Tomato plants are thriving in a garden designed by youth groups and built on a large mound of rubble. Bohemian Crossings will host a summer camp this week where school children will create story poles to add to the team’s poles. We aspire that through working together, we can create a beauty that transforms this site and generates a rippling affect in bringing hope and joy to Gorlitz.