It was the Covid pandemic
Life is different now, wherever you are in the world. It will be different for a long time. Keep your senses alive. Our task is to take care, in the highest sense of that word. Savor your moments. Appreciate the tiny gifts surrounding you, create in whatever way you can, and always, always own your innate courage.
The time for art is now. Art reassures us during perilous times by expanding our senses and feeding the hunger in our souls. Art in all its written, performed, and visual forms remind us of our capacity for laughter, grief, joy, and contemplation. Art refuses to be utilitarian. Instead, it makes us human. – Jinx Davis
We live in a time of a pandemic, the rise of climate change, oppressive regimes, and a dramatic increase in income inequality. This has created worldwide limitations on how we live and how we survive. I know the severity of these limitations through many friends in Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Europe, the US, and beyond. I am the Director of the Living Arts Corporation, a small U.S. non-profit arts charity. I have always been able to self-fund our projects. For the first time, I found myself without the financial means to provide emergency funding and support for artists and my communities. With personal disposable income depleted assisting others, it was clear I needed to try to raise money for charity projects another way.
The real meaning of charity
I am not particularly fond of the word charity since too frequently it reflects images of huge organizations with massive administration salaries and expenses and too little direct assistance. In many nations it also implies corruption. Charity comes from the Latin noun ‘caritas’, which is derived from the adjective ‘carus’ meaning ‘dear’. “A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog” writes Jack London. It is this perspective I prefer.
When in doubt, I create. I paint for my sanity. Creating empties my mind so that new thoughts may emerge. Spoiled with large workspaces to previously paint, I was now living in a tiny one-room studio in Zagreb, Croatia with only a small counter space to paint on canvases. We were in Covid shut down and multiple earthquakes ransacked our spirits as well as towns, homes, and buildings. Due to Covid I could not immediately return to the US or travel anywhere. Across the world, people found themselves separated from family and communities.
Limitations also hold freedom.
The impermanent nature of the art became an essential life lesson. Innately I was using the techniques required for change, growth, and survival.
I began painting with ink and acrylics on white ceramic tiles and small canvases to save space.
I photographed the images and then wiped the surfaces clean to begin afresh since I had no place to store hundreds of paintings. I worked with photography collected over decades on multiple hard drives, inks, paints, markers, textiles, sand, and dirt to create layers I could add to images. I photographed clothes in my closet to find texture and designs. I fell back in love with artists from long ago and hunted museum collections for art in the public domain. I acquired just enough Adobe Photoshop skills to learn to layer my work. I reused painted canvases and ink-painted tiles as backgrounds from different vantage points for new pieces. The impermanence of the process was delicious and enticing.
Painting into the wee hours and playing without self-judgment was freeing my mind from watching the unraveling of the lives and economics of my friends throughout the world. I wasn’t creating anything particularly new but I was enjoying reimagining and reinventing.
Engrossed with the process I created hundreds of pieces in a few months. It became clear that I could use them to help raise funds for the Living Arts Corporation.
Printable digital art for charity simply made sense with the demanding issues of our time.
It will assist in buying food, art supplies, pay contributing writers to our Cambodian cultural arts magazine, and allow us to support the dedicated work of so many organizations, artists, and communities in need that I know and care deeply about.
Now I am asking for your help
I am asking you to be a benefactor and join me in helping some incredible individuals and organizations that I deeply admire. I believe you will value them as much as I do as I share the impact of your assistance.
Purchase a piece of art. Purchase several. It will cost you very little and $5 will be donated to the Living Arts Corporation from every single purchase. Peruse the Living Arts Corporation’s website and Magical Cambodia to see what we have accomplished throughout the years. Our mission is to create art and performance and use it to assist others, whether they are marginalized families or other artists struggling to do their work. In everything we do, we try to connect. We are unlike many charitable organizations since we do not write grants, seek money from governments or institutions – or even give ourselves any salaries for our work. We simply put our energy and sweat labor directly into the people and the events that happen around us.
Be bold with the art you download. Print it on any surface you choose. Frame it and spruce up a corner in your home. Give it to a teacher or a nurse. Decorate your office, schoolroom, or waiting room with fresh color and movement. Offer it as a gift to a stranger. Pass it on to those whose service is overlooked. Why not pay a bill at a restaurant drive-through with a printable art piece wrapped in a thank you note? Turn it into a canvas art bag, a pillowcase, or drape a print dramatically from rope ribbon and wooden clothespins. Gift it to the overlooked, the overworked, the lonesome, the beloveds, and always the children.
It is easy to feel alienated and discouraged by the noise of the world now. Yet, it is just as easy to help in shaping the world around you, especially when you know the consequences of your assistance. I will share the stories of who we will support and you will get to know them personally. My list is long with the hearty attitudes and deeds of trusted friends on the ground around the world who will personally assure that every dollar we donate will go directly to the neighborhoods, individuals, scholarships, and tasks that are chosen. No middlemen. No administration fees. No salaries. Just help for good people. Period.
Let us know what you do with your purchase and we will share it.
Understand that there is nothing noble about my intentions to assist those I know in need. It is a simple human response. I simply care about what happens to the people I meet. I honor the impermanence of all living things. Our conditions, our self-identities, our tasks – all are fluid. Over 2000 years ago Taoist sage Chuang Tzu said: “When you open your heart, you get life’s ten thousand sorrows, and ten thousand joys”. As you experience your sorrows during this pandemic I hope that you will pair them with joys.
Art is infectious. Giving is infectious. Creating is infectious. These are infections we need now.
Do not doubt that you, too, are a creator. I have witnessed thousands of people of every age and background in the process of creation. Some know how to help an elder paint a home; some bake and cook with love and share with those around them; some write words that inspire empathy, awareness, and examination; some nurture gardens and generously share of the beauty and nutrition, and some are the creators who behold each person they meet as if they are the only person in the world. Creating is innate in each of you.
Just Jinx is adding a series of Collections by guest artists from around the world. They will determine their own prices for their work and donate $5 to the Living Arts Corporation as well. If you happen to create original art or photography that can be digitally printed, please consider working with me. I will share how we can make it happen. I have no doubt you will be pleasantly surprised.
A common question I hear is ‘what are your credentials? This has never been a question I have posed to others.
I have been privileged to know great artists, actors, directors, filmmakers, illustrators, writers, and musicians all of my life. Somes whose names are on the tip of your tongue (Dr. Seuss, Putu Wijaya, Arnold Wesker, Maurice Sendak, Holling C. Holling, Arna Bontemps, Odetta, Carl Sandburg, Jean George, Nancy Elkhorn Burkert, John T. Biggers, María Irene Fornés, Collen Nyanhongo …) and others who remain unknown to the world. I believe we are all creators if we welcome the invitation.
Yes, I have an MFA in Acting and Theater along with other accomplishments and numerous laurels. No, I have no art training other than soaking art in my blood from early childhood through the works of my artistic family and communities. Yes, my work has been exhibited in galleries in the US and Cambodia and hangs on private walls around the world. Yes, it has sold for many hundreds of dollars.
As Director of the Living Arts Corporation, we accomplished a great deal simply through sweat labor and imagination. Here is a shortlist:
Since 1994, the Living Arts Corporation has accomplished the following:
- produced 50 original theatrical performances and hosted 50 art exhibitions
- performed in over 500 schools around the nation
- distributed 10,000 + books to rural children
- supplied living and studio space to 15 visual artists
- entertained the public with 24 ft. puppets commissioned from Carnival artists in Trinidad, West Indies
- delivered over $700,000 of home goods to marginalized families, veterans, and people in crisis
- began the Soul Shoe Project to draw attention to the fact that a child dies from violence every five minutes
- in 2019 we went to Cambodia to listen and learn how we may assist emerging artists, organizations, and communities.
- Created the website Magical Cambodia – a cultural rebirth to share the stories of Khmer contemporary arts and culture. www.magicalcambodia.com.
I am an elder with little appetite for competition, accolades, or status. My life has taught me the importance of simply doing what one can to acknowledge others as sincerely and deeply as possible.
Creating is simply in my blood. It is in your blood, too.
Art belongs to everyone.
In gratitude, Jinx Davis