Patriotism growing with house

By Clyde Davis

The house is the one the left on the way to Lubbock. I cannot remember if it is east of Sudan, or just west of the small Texas town, but it’s somewhere in that stretch after Muleshoe and before Littlefield.
I never noticed it before the Sept. 11, 2001, events, but since that time I have been watching it grow — not the house, but the personal art statement in the yard.
It began, I believe, with a Statue of Liberty about 4 feet tall, which the owners drape with a flag during patriotic holidays. To this has been added a constantly flying U.S. flag, with a POW/MIA flag underneath. There are now a few other national symbols, and the latest addition is a wooden cross with a WW II style helmet hung upon it. The owner is slowly developing his or her artistic statement, the theme of which I believe is obvious.
There are plenty of reasons to create art, one of which is just to have fun; another is this kind of meaningful personal stance, using these objects to get the message of unity and national pride across.
I have this thing of my own going on. It’s going on two years ago now. During autumn of 2001, I was in the heaviest of my chemotherapy treatments. I was lucky to have the energy just to go to work, and there were days when I could not even do that. I would sit in the chemotherapy chair, barely able to move, and frequently go home or later to our room in Lubbock to collapse exhausted.
Someone gave me a magazine with pictures of songbirds and flowers. I took these pictures and some of sandhill cranes and shorebirds and created carving patterns from them. They weren’t the detailed kind; that wasn’t what I wanted to work on. These were what decoy painters call block painting, using big blocks of color to depict the feather group, resulting in what one writer refers to as primitive impressionism. This was the way the old-timers did it, and for some reason, , I felt like it was important to follow the tradition.
Well, not just for some reason. Like the practice of meditation, like our daily walks which was the only exercise I could handle, creating the patterns in this style was a way of grounding myself in something spiritual.
It was more, though. It was a statement of intent. A will get better.
Skip forward to our front yard, where the colony is slowly growing. It doesn’t grow at a phenomenal pace because there are other things that must be done, but it grows at about the rate of one bird every three weeks.
It is not many pieces of art; it is one piece of art composed of many figures. It is our garden of hope, and a reminder.
So what is your statement? What can you create as a piece of personal art therapy, or a statement of triumph, or patriotism, or whatever? Many folks use that kind of energy in creating a flower garden, or pond area — it’s certainly no more or less valid than a sculpture garden of shorebirds and songbirds. Whether it touches anyone else is secondary.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University.