The “Let’s (He)Art” initiative explores the possibilities of a healed and restored community through communal grief sharing in a form of art engagement and story sharing. By lamenting collectively, we move toward a renewal dance (Psalm 30:11, 12). As we put our hearts and hands together, we foster empathetic communities attuned to healing and restoration in times of great need.
"Let’s (He)Art" invites all forms of collaborative arts, though initially it began with cutting T-shirts.
Why T-shirts? T-shirts represent the materiality, physicality, and commonality of all people, regardless of their social, political, economic status, race, nationality, etc. An ordinary garment holds ordinary and unique paradoxes. This simple fabric also represents over-manufactured fast fashion in the global market. "Let’s (He)Art" repurposes used T-shirts as an accessible resource and as a shared part of life in a community.
Why do we cut the T-shirts? The ancient practice of tearing clothes in lament is a tangible expression of grief and anger in the face of death. Each cut evokes the pain of a wound; the fragmentation and detachment in our body, soul, spirit, as well as broken relationships between mankind and land, each other, and the Divine. By cutting our worn T-shirts, we can access unspoken and buried pain. By sharing and expressing, we give each other access to one another's interior life. As the cut shirts are stretched and connected and slit open, new pathways are formed. As they are layered, knotted and intertwined, maps and webs emerge to form new pathways to healing. ~Young-Ly Hong Chandra
Young-Ly's original idea for "Let's (He)Art" evolved over time and took on many variations as the project progressed. Below is Young-Ly's initial invitation to the first community she worked with. Many of her project participants were inspired by the project and subsequently created their own community-centered healing projects. Following the invitation, you will also find images and poetic reflections for a handful of the spin-off projects.
Through artful engagements we will name and voice the things that are hidden and ignored to move towards the healing of broken relationships. By tending to one another, to earth, and to heaven we will renew our hearts, minds, and bodies.
Hello fellow dreamer,
I dream a dream of a healed and restored world. Do you too?
If ‘yes’, this is an invitation to join us in this humble and playful movement of ‘Let’s (He)Art’ to put our heart, mind, and body back together through artful community engagements. Hopefully it will start from you and I, and our ‘we-ness’ will grow wider and deeper in thoughts and acts with time.
Let me share part of my story. It began simply with a pair of my old and well loved T-shirts and my curiosity about what I could create with these shirts. When I created a little sculpture using wire and straps cut out of a T-shirt, a new process began to speak to me. I suspended the sculpture from the living room ceiling, but part of the strap fell to the floor. I gazed at the strap everyday, listening in anticipation as if an idea was fermenting like Kim Chi in the making. The idea required the right amount of waiting before it reached maturity.
One quiet morning, my first born commented, “Mom, what’s that? I like it. It looks like a bamboo tree yet I know that it’s soft.” That made me desire to explore the shirt’s complex physicality more. Since then, I’ve been cutting more and more T-shirts and learning something new from every cut and stretch. Within each shirt’s unique color, material, and shape is an unseen story. Each carries the story of where and how it was made and hints at the journey it has traveled until finding its way to me.
As I entered deeper into the making process, I realized that I was mourning. Each cut evoked pain and wounds, some personal and others relating to society. I mourned broken relationships between my body, soul and spirit, broken relationships between cultural groups, and the broken relationship between God and humanity.
As I thought about the broken relationships between people, T-shirts began to represent a connection point for all of humanity. Whether a millionaire or homeless, we all have T-shirts. We wear them almost everyday. The flip side of this is that T-shirts are overly produced and consumed. They make traces on the earth, filling the land with waste.
As I cut more T-shirts and installed them in different spaces, they displayed possibilities for healing and hope. I saw hope appear as slits opened and formed new pathways. Layered and intertwined, webs and maps emerged. These forms showed me that Hope can only be found through cuts and wounds and that healing comes through communal sharing and connectivity.