A Year of Shared Intention
2019 was a transitional year for our family. All of our children shifted into daytime school environments for a portion of each week. Our studio artwork business celebrated 10 years of existence. Our extended families are also experiencing transitions. We're no longer operating as a “start-up” but have transitioned into a long term studio practice with significant experience.
In recognition of these transitions we decided to spend some personal and studio time focusing on relationships with ourselves, our partners, as caregivers to our family, and with our community. We're interested in setting a weekly intention and identifying the challenges that come to us in these roles.
We've read about the Finnish concept of Sisu, identified on Wikipedia as “stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness.” As artists, we're specifically interested in understanding and exploring how we, and fellow artists in relationships, approach family life and small business challenges.
During the year we spent time at the beginning of each week setting talking with each other to set an intention. Each month we followed a loose theme, but were also open to new themes throughout the year. We each created a weekly artwork focusing on our jointly identified concepts of intention as they related our roles within these themes and challenges.
Brooke created a drawing following in the tradition of the fractur, that illustrated the weekly theme. Justin created a ceramic vessel, or jug, traditionally intended for liquid meant to be shared. The fraktur will be used to decorate or adorn the ceramic vessel, applied as a gold decal, and carrying the emblem of the week's shared intention.
At the culmination of the year, and the completion of all the jugs, we are left with 104 finished jugs. There are 2 jugs representing each of the 52 weeks of the year. Each week’s jug is numbered on the bottom, 1 thru 52. We are keeping 1 set of jugs for ourselves for future exhibition, sales, or record keeping. We are mailing the second set around the country.
We have sorted the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC by population and created a spreadsheet to document the relevant criteria for each of the 52 jugs. The person representing the most populous state (California) will receive the jug from week one. The person representing the least populous state (Wyoming) will receive the jug from week fifty-two, and so on.
Over the course of 2019, as we were setting intentions, making frakturs, and making jugs, we spent time journaling about what the intention for the week meant to us. Some of this journaling felt very relevant, and other times it felt tedious. We’ll share a summary of our journaling with the jug recipient from each week to help them understand what the word meant to us.
We’re sending jugs all over the country. Recipients have been selected through an organic social media nomination process or through our own solicitations of nominations. Many of the recipients of the jugs are people we have never met. We’re asking each recipient to share the jug with others in their community, and participate in an intentional experience as part of that process.
We hope to hear back from each recipient with some images of the jug in use. We hope to hear back about how the jug, or this project, has inspired intentional living within the life of the community where it has landed.
Some questions we hope will be addressed:
- How does the word from this week resonate with you?
- What does intentional living mean to you?
- How are you or aren’t you intentional with yourself, your family, the environment, or your community, especially relating to the theme addressed on the jug?
- What makes intentional living difficult?
- How do we create space for relationship building?
- How do you show compassion for yourself or others when you’re overwhelmed?
- Tell us a joke, a story, or an anecdote to keep things real.
- Tell us, briefly, what did you do with the jug
Some other resources we’ve enjoyed, and which might spark further conversation ideas are:
- onbeing.org and the On Being podcast
- storycorps.org and NPR StoryCorps broadcasts
After shipping jugs to all 52 locations around the country we will collect stories, images, and ideas from a second year of intentional connection with others. We hope to summarize this collection of experiences into a book, journal, or online resource that records our evolution and engagement in intentional practice.