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May 21, 2017

A Gift From the Universe

I'm currently on a Random Gifts of Art performance tour in Berlin, heart of the thundering history of the Reich. (Where it appears this might be the first generation to come up with the idea of trying peace to see how that works! Pretty well, I'd say. And would add that the US and many nations should take the hint!) But not to get distracted...I had nothing to do our first day here but go to a few of the 150 museums, and then check my email.

Nina as a teen, in the 1890's
There I found a message from a stranger named Lisa, a woman who said she's the Rochester, New York historian and every morning she does a ritual of an eBay search for postcards of the city. She wrote me to say there was a touching postcard of Dr. Lee's Hospital in Rochester, written by "Nina" for sale on eBay that she thought might be from my family. But the email was already two weeks old! I immediately searched to see if I could find it. I looked over the eight or 10 possibilities but no, it was already gone. So I wrote to her and said thank you very much, but alas, it's too late.

But it turns out there were three separate emails from Lisa interspersed among the trash! The next one a few days later gave a transcript of the note on the card about Nina's mom's condition, and mentioned that the card was written to Lisa's ancestor, who was Nina's cousin. It very much looked to me like "Nina" was my great aunt! Then the third email, still before my own response, went on to say that Lisa was so moved by the card that she wrote a blog post about it, which posted––totally incidentally––on my birthday!

So here, for your delectation and delight, is my birthday present, Lisa's very touching post; (please don't spill ice cream on it):


I of course wrote back to Lisa with my profuse thanks and my answer to her question: why do we attach to people we've never met? That's a curious thing about people: how easy it is to get emotionally bonded to some stranger, just through some snippet of evidence that drifts through history like a message in a bottle. Of course, I knew Nina in the flesh, but the only reason I find this snip of her life 100+ years later is because a stranger felt she did, too.

So, just to see if this works with you, read the above article and then come back and listen to Nina–– in a taped letter made at 106 years old!––say goodbye. See if you can tolerate this without any emotional hookage!:

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.