I’m the kind of person who likes to listen first and doesn’t talk a lot…so I know that when I do speak, people listen. I try to be gentle and deliberate with how I communicate, and also to accept that the mistakes I will inevitably make as learning opportunities. 

As an artist, I am continuously agonizing over the language I use around my art practice. First of all, how do I put words to the creative, spiritual ecosystem I am working in when I don’t even fully understand what is happening? How do I embody–on a deep and not just performative level–active nonviolence in my creative work? How do I call people in, rather than out, to difficult conversations about faith and justice? 

The wisdom of restorative justice practitioners is helping me to discern trauma-informed ways to use language in my practice. At a training on strategies for trauma awareness and resilience with the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute, I was inspired by how, with our facilitators, our group co-created a sacred space, a spiritual community that enabled us to grow with one another, vulnerably speak from our hearts, and connect on a profoundly human level. 

In this drawing that I made during the training, there are some critters that I find myself repeatedly drawing. The fish, turtle, snail, bee and butterfly are teaching me how to communicate in ways that are life-giving.

Like a fish caught in the flow, I journal a lot to keep a record of what is surfacing. 

Turtles remind me to be slow and discerning before I give voice to these emerging thoughts.

That way, in the spirit of the snail, with a spiral on her back, the words I give life to come from my heart, my center. 

I know that when I give voice to these messages–both visual and verbal, they can become pollinators of hope. 

And I also know that the language I use to articulate my understanding of the wisdom deep within is always evolving, and transforming, like the butterfly that emerges from the cocoon. I trust the creative process of finding language that authentically heals the pain and violence in our world. 

Learn more about my creative practice here: https://www.caseymurano.com/

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