Work from Home:
Featuring Susan McLeod
I am so excited to share this awesome update from SHŌ Co-Founder Susan McLeod. Susan and Phil McLeod took me under their creative wings immediately when I was first starting to emerge in the arts community in the first few years of SHŌ’s illustrious journey. Sue is a great manager, organizer, brainstormer, and multitasking wonder woman. I have always loved this painting done by Phil as it captures her light, strength, and beauty so lovingly.
The awesome folks at Shō would never let anything, including a pandemic, stand in the way of their progress. They have been busily working away at future projects and the ever evolving growth of SHŌ Art, Spirit & Performance. Susan has given us a sneak peek behind the scenes at SHŌ, as well as, some of her own creative work!
Susan McLeod’s “SHŌ notes“
My name is Susan McLeod and I am one of the founding members and business partners of SHŌ Art, Spirit & Performance as well as an Executive Board Member for the not-for-profit organization SHŌ Art Studios. The current positions I hold are Manager (SHŌ Art, Spirit & Performance) and Secretary (NFP). My recent retirement from a 41 year career as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist has allowed me a second fantastic career with full time to concentrate on the further expansion and development of SHŌ Art Studios Cultural & Heritage Arts Centre. I take great delight in my day to day participation with the thriving creative community in our area!
And then came COVID-19!!!
While physically distancing, I have had some quality time to consider:
‘WHAT IS SHŌ AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?’
Looking to the future, especially in light of how we may emerge from COVID -19, SHŌ has always been about an energy and synergy made up of creative people working together to ensure one another’s success and ultimately contributing to the success of SHŌ’s longevity as an organization.
It is a physical space, rich in its own culture and heritage located in the heart of Walkerville, housing a diverse palette of artist tenants, associates, arts organizations, cooperatives and anchor community partners. Over the last 10 years, SHŌ has listened to the community and in response has offered needed physical space as well as opportunities to thread together programming that satisfies our community’s request for participation in visual, musical and performance arts as well as programming that supports wellness, culture and environmental concerns.
To me, SHŌ is all about community, collaboration and the continuous conversation about community socially productive work for all ages! Some days SHŌ is a hive of activity with children’s music, francophone instructional dance, vocal instruction, theatre performances, photo shoots or just people talking to each other….
Other times, it is quiet, peaceful, a time to reflect, maintain, facilitate….
At all times it is a place palpable with creative energy!
SO WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING DURING THE COVID-19 SHUTDOWN?
I have used this time to learn some new skills! Yes, ‘Zooming’ is a word and don’t even go there with ‘Doodle’! Board meetings, discussion groups, workshops, and even jury panel meetings have all been held virtually using the Zoom platform and applications like Drop Box and Facebook Live.
Personally, I have used this Zoom platform to participate in the Biblioasis BookClub and read their published, Best Canadian Poetry 2019 and Best Canadian Stories 2019. From the comfort of my home I met a group of people that I may not have had the opportunity to meet physically and read books that I may not have chosen myself. Speaking of book clubs, a fortuitous dinner invitation led to an opportunity to chat with one of the world’s leading experts on trees, Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger who was in
Windsor Nov. 2019 for a WIFF Q&A session after the screening of the movie “Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees”. We/SHŌ were so inspired and motivated by her conversation, in partnership with PIBO (MaryJo Rusu and Suzanne Friemann) we created the first official Diana Beresford-Kroeger bookclub. Today the DBK Bookclub has garnered a group of knowledgeable and committed women, eager to learn as much as possible about our natural world, eco sustainability and environmental protection, particularly the protection of trees. Beginning with the reading of one of Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s books “To Speak for the Trees” the DBK book club has participated in small/large group discussions, eco information presentations and sharing recipes of ‘tree’ food offerings!
In a short period of time our bookclub has developed a keen sense of community and common purpose. This dynamic group has just completed the planting of 100 trees, indigenous to our area, with the help of ERCA on private property through COVID and following standard COVID restrictions.
And again COVID-19!
Zoom to the rescue! Now every Monday night via the virtual platform, we meet, discuss chapters of the book and participated in a “Felting Workshop” hosted by Deborah Dunlop of Fusion Fiber Arts (book club member). Beautiful artistic representations of the trees talked about in the book, using their sacred tree alphabet symbol (Olgham), common name, and inspired by the text, were created. Along the way, the Book Club grew international roots as two new members joined and through Zoom were able to participate in the workshop. Our felted creations will be on display during an original community experience hosted by SHŌ involving, music, art, poetry and performance which will be produced and hopefully be available in the near future.
Answering the question “WHAT IS SHŌ and WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ME?” proved to take longer for me than what I had anticipated, but physically distanced and separated from SHŌ allowed me the time to be creative, stay connected (by whatever means available), always move forward and never lose hope!
So, while at home I created this beautiful piece:
Ode to the Burr Oak
Written by: Susan McLeod
Thank you so much Sue for giving us all a behind the scenes experience of SHŌ Art Studios Cultural & Heritage Arts Centre. It is so lovely and inspiring to look through your eyes and see the passion embedded in every aspect of SHŌ.
Until next time, stay CREATIVE everyone!
Christy Litster is a Visionary Artist living in Windsor, Ont., Canada. Her work ranges from mixed media abstracts to psychedelic digital mandalas. Visionary art aims to transcend the physical world and portray a wider version of awareness, often including spiritual or mystical themes.