Monica Nawrocki

Transcend was originally published in Still Point Arts Quarterly, Summer 2013, Issue No. 10.

I seldom attend openings.

I prefer the gallery to myself, like today, so I can take off my shoes, let my feet sink in to the grooves of the smooth wooden planks that once held the feet of the island school children, and slip silently through the undisturbed energy of the collection. The past tickles my soles, light slants through the tall windows, and a breeze winds through the show to find me in the far corner, staring at a mixed media canvas. I take one step closer and read the title: Transcend.

And I do.

My heart pulls itself upward. The breeze becomes an unnameable blend of colours and sweeps my mind clean. My breath catches and I blink away the blur. This rarely happens to me, but I am so grateful that it can.

I look and look until my thirst is satisfied and then I take one more walk through the enchanted air, listening to the soft boards creak beneath my solidness.

Outside on the grass, my partner waits. She turns to see me standing on the wide wooden steps.

“Ready?” I hold out my hand. We tiptoe back inside through the quiet spirits and I let go of her hand in the far corner.

“I love one. If you love it too, we’ll get it,” I say.

She steps back, scans all six in the series that she first saw at the opening, and then points to Transcend.


Transcend by Lisa Gibbons

Two days later I sit with a friend in the morning sun and we crow about our acquisitions. “I never really thought about art before I moved to this island. Not really.”

We compare stories. Mine takes me back to eighth grade in rural Alberta when we are offered art class for the first time ever. The other option is Hunter Training and Safety. Art seems slightly less threatening, but not much.

We sit in our Social Studies classroom and draw. However, when we move into the clay unit, money is required from home, so I and my friend, who lives on the other side of the tracks, are told to bring our library books to art for the duration of the clay lessons. She hates reading so much that when we sit in these same desks pouring over our Social Studies texts, I read quietly to the back of her head from the seat behind.

So, not surprisingly, reading through art class lasts for one day before she is looking for more creative ways to pass the time. Our P.E. teacher comes into the empty gym to find us jumping from the storage loft into the high jump pits. She demands to know what we think we are doing.

“Art,” my friend says cheerfully.

We are both transferred to Hunter Training and Safety.

Over the years, I struggled to understand, evaluate, or even discuss art. Art gives me that feeling of being lifted up and swept clean, the joy of falling through the air into a soft pit of foam, the feel of cold lake water on my face, or the awareness of the tips of green trees against a blue sky – the tartan of my soul. Art has become another mysterious relationship to explore.

In my home, any time I want, I stand before Transcend with an open heart and listen with my eyes until something reaches out and pulls me away, either off on a current to a new discovery, or perhaps back to our first meeting at The Old Schoolhouse Gallery – through the fairy-lit dust motes, with the pulse of the past in the boards beneath my feet, and that timeless whisper urging me to transcend.

And I do.


_dsc1661Monica Nawrocki lives with her partner and dog on a small island off the west coast of Canada. She earns her living as a substitute teacher—often reading under-construction manuscripts to captive classroom audiences and happily impersonating someone different every day. She is the author of one book and her fiction and non-fiction pieces have appeared in various journals and anthologies in Canada and the U.S.

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