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Serivce-learning through printmaking in the Roaring Fork Valley, CO since 2015.

Bent willow

by CSA: Featured Artist Manay Whitcomb

Manay, a writer, artist and dear friend came to visit and we developed a print design to go with a poem she wrote recently.  Connecting with her and hearing her share her story and develop this design in conversation with shop artists was a powerful and moving experience. 

“I looked up at the stars, and felt nothing but unconditional love, and that I too was a part of everything.”

In the piece itself my writing may be difficult to read, my poem is a very important part of the piece so here it is printed as well:

Bent Willow

I dance in the wind as my leaves mimic the butterfly.
My arms branch out in a tangled design.
Longing. For a distance they can't find.
Yet strong.
My roots seem to prove.
As I bend in resistance,
Finding my place in the grooves.
Brown and wise,
Green and young.
I grow.
I bend.
Sending restless cries through the wind.
But not damaged.
But still thriving.
I am a Bent Willow.
To whomever reads this and has a piece of this loved crafted print, here is my message to you:

Embrace the sadness, the anger. Allow yourself to mold, allow yourself to bend in the wind. But remember no matter how bent, you are not damaged. No matter how thin, you can still thrive. Move forward with love, and the power you have to wake up and choose who you want to be. There is an ember in all of us. Don't waste time with never feeling your ember spark. Make Fire.

-Manay Whitcomb

About Visiting Artist

Manay Whitcomb

Meet the Artist

My name is Manay Whitcomb, I am 15 years young and live in Sun Valley Idaho. This art piece was inspired by my poem, Bent Willow, which is my expression about the past year of my life. In the fall of 2021 I was sent to a Wilderness program in the desert of Utah, which was just the beginning of my journey. Pain, anger, and the path of fear is what led me to wilderness. I was stripped down to only what I could carry on my back, living under the mercy of the desert and my own surrender. My first night held my face wet with tears, my heart in agony, and my eyes looking at the stars feeling nothing but alienated. As time kindly carried me through each day, new hope and perspectives arose with the sun. I began to come into my body, and feel the medicine of finally having to nurture what was hurt internally. I got to feel peace in the silence, and grounded in nature which in turn grounded me within myself. As the people and the desert got to know me, I was given the name Bent Willow. Symbolizing only what resonated with me. I then let my heart find the words that created this poem. “Surender.” This is the word that carried me through my year. I wanted the illustration to represent this word along with peace.  The peace I came to find. The meditating Buddah illustrates this.  The dove to the right, is the messenger. Carrying my manifestations, hopes, and cries through the wind.

Wilderness was just the start for me, a life altering beginning. As my journey went on I was faced with many challenges and came to feel hurt and pain all over again. In those moments, I looked back at the words I found in the dessert, and found reassurance and strength. Remembering the bittersweet feeling I had, my last night in the desert. I Looked up at the stars, and felt nothing but unconditional love, and  that I too was a part of everything. I am grateful that I got to come full circle and further this expression through art. One of the most important parts of wilderness was fire. Duh. Fire brought food and warmth. Toward the end of my 3 months of surviving in the desert I got to go on a Solo, where I was left to survive on my own for 4 days. I went 2 nights without fire. On my last night, I got my ember. I am still making fire today, in all aspects of my life. I make fire.

About the process:

My father is originally from Aspen, and most of my family still lives in the valley. Colorado, especially Carbondale, is my home away from home, but the home in my heart, will forever and always belong to my beautiful grandmother Polly, who takes up residency in Carbondale. This Wonderwoman is responsible for my love of poetry, and is the person who inspired and showed me the power of literature. Apart from writing, I love to talk. So writing and articulating words has always come easy, and it has continued to evolve into a forlonging outlet for expression. I recently came to the valley to visit my Grandma who told me about Reina’s workshop and the CSA project. It didn't take me long to see how this chaotically organized, magical space is a place of support, and imagination for anyone who wants to express anything. The first step in my project creation was to reflect on what I wanted to share. Once I had my idea, I started putting my design to paper. I was cleverly guided to use my left hand, to let the creativity flow without fixation. Once I had my design, I organized it on a computer along with my poem before we started the screen printing process. When I had my final draft organized on the computer, a machine took the information from the computer and copied that design to create a plastic copy of the screen print. Technology is amazing. We then used UV rays of special lights on the screen that the machine created. I then got to use water to wash the screen, revealing the parts of the screen that the ink would go through. Then of course the best and most rewarding part was getting to print my design on clothing.

Limited edition goes to CSA subscribers.

Our CSA {Community Supported Art} program is growing collection of amazing designs created and hand-printed at The Project Shop. Featured artists collaborate with Shop artists to develop, produce and deliver an outstanding print edition. Artists are taught new techniques and offered the opportunity to express their voices and stretch outside their comfort zones.

And you, dear members of our community never know what goodness you will receive to share with the world. Your support allows us to empower these young, emerging and curious artists to share their voices through tangible and quality limited edition print goods.