COLLABORATING ARTIST: Joslyn Beta Lawrence
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Artist for Trauma’s Collaborating Artists
A large part and unique component of Artists For Trauma (AFT) is the wonderful generosity of our volunteer AFT artists. These artists are established and highly acclaimed in their various disciplines and artistic communities and richly give back to the community through the blessing of their talent.
AFT Artists give their time and creativity but mostly they share spirit. Loving compassionate human spirit through amazing collaboration with our Level 1 Trauma survivors.
AFT would like to recognize and respect these various artists.
It is our honor this month to feature AFT Celebrity Ambassador Artist, Joslyn Beta Lawrence.
Creativity… Connectivity… Community… It takes a Village!
INTO THE FRAY (2012)
Born in 1970 in Madison, Wisconsin, Lawrence studied painting and photography at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Her work reveals both the geographical and emotional landscape where she resides. In painterly imagery shot with various types of cameras, Lawrence creates narratives that lead the viewer down the path of the human condition, creating a sense of myth and occasionally just the stark reality of ones relationship to the self. she has exhibited all over the united states and is a part of numerous private collections.
This series of work began after I became close to a Level One Trauma survivor, Laura Sharpe, who is the founder of Artists For Trauma. Laura’s extraordinary story of ‘divine intervention’ moved me to begin researching Near Death Experiences, or, as they are known, NDE’s. Almost all experiencers describe seeing a bright white light, meeting deceased loved ones or other beings and all describe an overwhelming sense of forgiveness, unconditional love and peace regardless of religion or personal history. Many people never share these experiences because when they do, they are not believed.
On a personal level, these stories tap into my core spiritual beliefs, and so the work is an attempt to illustrate an encounter with this light and the possibility that something might lie beyond. All of the people who agreed to be photographed have been interviewed about their relationship with death and how it has changed them. It has led me to wonder, what if humanity knew in no uncertain terms that unconditional love and forgiveness was waiting for us after this life? How would we live differently? How might we be driven by different goals? And how might it change the way we relate to others?
Excerpts from real NDE’s, as relayed to the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, founded by Dr. Jeffrey Long:
Demi – drowning accident
Ahead of me was a very bright light and I remember thinking that it was so bright that if I looked at it, it would hurt my eyes, but it didn’t. I didn’t yet realize what the light was, but immediately knew that that is where ALL things come from and it is where all things return and that when I was back inside the light I would know and be everything… I was given messages, no one gave them to me, I just knew them and the closer I became to the light the more anxious I was to be in it, to “return” to all love and all knowledge. The first message I was given was that the single most important thing in the Universe is Love, that Love is all that matters, that we are all the same and that we are all Love. The message that caused me the most curiosity was that we are all the same, and it went on to say that I was exactly the same as everything in the universe and was specific enough to tell me that I was exactly the same as every blade of grass. Then I was given the message that it wasn’t my time to be there, that I had things I needed to do here on this plane.
S – auto accident
My experience happened a long time ago, but it was the most real thing I have ever experienced. It was real. It was love. It was peace. It was truth. I didn’t want to come back, but this energy/light (I think it was my guardian angel- at least that’s what it felt like) told me (telepathically) I had to come back, and at that point I knew I could not convince him to let me stay. Ever since then I sometimes wonder why I’m here? What’s the point? Why EVERYONE here is not HOME?
Jean – toxic shock syndrome
The first question I asked was, “What is the right religion?” I was told, “They all are. Each religion is a pathway trying to reach the same place.” I was shown a mountain, with each religious group trying to reach the top…separated from each other by distance…but each one was trying to get to the same place. I was then told that people choose to be born into whichever religion or group that will help them achieve the lessons they are sent here to learn. I was told that the earth is like a big school, a place where you can apply spiritual lessons learned and test yourself, under pressure, to see if you can actually “live” what you already know you should do.
Henry – suicide attempt
The concept or rule that I learned there is that God can never be proved by scientific means. To do so would corrupt the environment. It would destroy faith. When we have faith we seek, we learn. To successfully experience the human existence, one must be physically out of touch with God. You have to learn and seek on your own- to search out the meaning of our own existence and experience here. Faith is the engine of discovery, without faith we are just like ants.
Justin – auto accident
I moved quickly to a warm and absolute feeling of love and light. On the way though, I was stopped. Some beings, both what seemed like beings of light and love, and some family members who had passed away were in a semi-circle and I stopped just before them. They looked (the family members) as they did on earth but were not material and all had much light, calmness and serenity about them. They seemed to be welcoming me. The beings of light with them seemed not to have ever been in a material body. They could be described as angels. However, they had no wings but I can understand where that comes from in history. The love radiating from their hearts was so powerful and large it surrounded their upper body almost like wings.
Diane – drowning accident
From above, I watched my husband climb onto a rock in the river. He couldn’t hear what the two men still in the raft were shouting to him over the roar of the water. He had no idea where I was or what had happened, but he knew I was missing. He looked as if he wanted to jump in to try to find me and I suddenly found myself at his side, trying to stop him because he wasn’t much of a swimmer and I knew there was no point. When I reached out to stop him, my hand went right through him. I looked at my hand and thought… oh, my god, I’m dead!
In that instant, total knowledge of reality appeared to me and I saw the multi-dimensionality of the universe. My consciousness expanded so far beyond the physical plane that I was no longer aware of it, nor of my self. I was so much a part of it all, there was no distinction. It was a brilliant flash of light and I was allowed to see into it for a brief moment and experience a feeling of love so profound, powerful and overwhelming that I can only describe it as pure Bliss (even though that doesn’t begin to describe it).