The Artist in Residence program at Unity cultivates relationship and creative collaboration between the congregation and artists of diverse disciplines and backgrounds. Resident artists design expressions that further Unity’s vision to become a multicultural, antiracist Beloved Community and that champion cultural transformation.
Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra
Unity Church Artist in Residence
Last month I wrote on the theme of brokenness about the cycles of trauma which can form core beliefs of feeling “broken, beyond repair” and why healing change is critically connected to transformative justice, hope, and forgiveness. In my faith, rooted in Lutheranism and Maya cosmovision, a belief in the fundamental interconnectedness of all God’s life forms is what I believe to be at the core solution of our collective destruction or liberation. Can it be that we are just as connected to everyone we love as much as everyone who has caused us harm, those we reject, and even those on the other side of contemptuous divides? We are all relatives in the great family tree. Animals, plants, and even stones, the air, soil, and water are alive and connected as kindred spirits.
As a child, I remember being fascinated by Frida Kahlo’s famous painting of her family tree, each relative connected by a beautiful flowing red ribbon. They were the fancy kind of ribbons worn in girls’ carefully braided hair for special occasions in Mexico. I studied how the people’s faces floated like balloons on strings and generations connected down to Frida in the middle, and the souls of her miscarried babies. Even at a young age it resonated with me. She had painted it just as I felt it to be true energetically. My mother told me, and I’ve since told my daughters, “Don’t be afraid. You are never alone. We used to be connected by an umbilical cord and even though it was cut, there’s still an invisible string there that connects us to all our great-great-great grandparents and all our great-great-great-great grandchildren.”
From oral tradition from my tribe in El Salvador, the Wilkala threads connect all things seen and unseen on Mother Earth. All of humanity, and indeed the universe, are connected by these tiny little strings invisible to the naked human eye. With thousands of years of ancestral backstrap weaving traditions, one can imagine them as a beautiful hand embroidered huipil, a traditional woman’s Indigenous blouse, masterfully woven one inch per day. Multicolored rainbows glistening with beads, geometric designs, animal symbols, flowers. A heavy tapestry for all their crisscrossing connections and loose threads flowing, unravelled ends, knots unfinished. It is, of course, eerily similar to String Theory, but I prefer the poetic way my ancestors described it long ago.
Close your eyes and imagine, if we are all connected how even the smallest disrepair can travel thru the threads to affect us all. And what we send out may come back to us on the cosmic highway. How the tiniest of family tears, estranged friends, and apathy can unravel the fabric of humanity. Or how blatant cruelty to the Earth’s animals and water can shred our collective strength connected by Love. The antidote to our unravelling interconnectedness is to weave love, respect, justice, forgiveness back together thru all things.
Check out Rebekah’s work and Electric Machete on their websites: www.rebekahcrisanta.com and www.electricmachete.com.
Ina Yukka Concert: April 18, 2020