by Eileen Weber
Sometimes, inspiration can happen when you least expect it. And if you’re Michelina Docimo, a writer who has been previous contributor to this site and a certified sustainable building advisor, that Eureka! moment took place at the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens in 2009.
That year, there was an exhibit of artist Kathy Hirshon’s hand-painted panels of wood in diptychs and triptychs called Spirited Trees. It was a one-woman show that Hirshon created specifically for the Bartlett. Initially, she was thinking of working with other mediums like silk or leather. Then, she said she had her own Eureka! moment.
“I literally slapped my forehead,” she said. “I’m at an arboretum. I should be working with wood!”
And when she did, she felt like a channel for what was produced. She used watercolors and ink as well as a wood burning tool. One line led to another and another. A nose in one piece became an eye or an ear in another. It all just flowed together.
That’s exactly what captured Docimo’s attention. While she was covering the exhibit for an article in ARTES Magazine, she found it spiritually moving in a surprising way. Because of Hirshon’s work, she came to the realization not only are these trees a part of nature but so are we. We are all one. We are all connected.
That is one of the key elements in Hirshon’s core beliefs. She said that all life is connected and we are all one mind. Docimo clearly got the message, but she took it one step further.
She wrote a book of stories and poems, Echoes: Listening to the Voices in Spirited Trees, based on Hirshon’s work that included interviews of some of the regions spiritual heroes: a rabbi, a jewelry designer, a childbirth educator, a vegetarian chef and author, and many more.
“It sounds like it has nothing to do with sustainability,” Docimo said of the connection between the book and her profession. “It’s a mindset. It’s about living in a kind and spiritual way. It’s about respect.”