Amanda Jolley and I first met at the inaugural EncaustiCamp event where I was drawn in by her gregarious personality and confident style. She could aptly be described as "the life of the party", but her sense of humor is not a mask to prevent others from seeing her, rather, it is a sincere reflection of the warmth, joy and love of life that bubbles up from deep within-overflowing and including anyone lucky enough to be in her vicinity. As an artist, this joy and love are reflected in her creative style, which can be described as whimsical and playful with an easy turn toward contemplative, healing and deep. Join me as Amanda shares how redemption plays a role in who she is and what she does today.
Have you ever been asked the question, if you could change anything in your past, what would you change? I am repelled by many of my past actions, by my lack of care for the dear ones in my life, for the pain that I caused them. But I wouldn't change a thing for the chance that it would lighten the intensity of love and compassion that I now have.
My life has been redeemed. From barfly to artist, from voiceless to proclaiming, from unlovable to profoundly loved, I have changed. I won't go into the sordid tales of my past choices in life, but rather I will loudly thank my God for allowing me to make my own bad choices rather than saving me from every bad thing, for allowing me to intersect with despair, hate, and rejection. Yes, thank you for this. And thank you for redeeming my choices and experiences.
Now as an artist, my most fulfilling moments are when I am teaching a group of the disregarded, the exploited, underdog women. Without my own redemption, I would not be able to approach these women without judgment, with grace, with understanding. Because of my own experience with emotional pain, I can help these women reach within themselves and discover the value and worth that has always been there. I can help them find joy in chaos and recall beautiful memories that had been buried by years of abuse. Because I am redeemed, I can encourage, love, and embrace a beauty that is not seen with eyes.
At a recent art journaling class with one of my favorite groups, we explored journaling IN INK about the hard things, about things we like to hold inside, about things we don't want others to know. Writing out these private thoughts really helps the brain to process them, rather than hold onto them. Sometimes having these intimate words on paper can feel very unsafe, so we then covered them with paint and collage. Each person will remember what feeling was left on the page, safely expressed. Exercises like these are helping this group to take small steps towards the redemption of those hard places in life, healing them bit by bit.
Through my teaching, I have discovered that my redemption is not even really about me. While it is a gift to me, it is also a gift to everyone around me. I am blessed to be a blessing. I am redeemed to be redeeming. My Savior gives gifts that keep on giving.
Bio: Amanda Jolley’s career path as an accountant compelled her to search for greater meaning in life. After leaving corporate accounting in the mid 1990s, she began exploration in mixed media and found great satisfaction in collage whether on canvas, in her soldered jewelry, or in her altered books and art journals. Drawn to the depth and luminous characteristics of wax, her creative journey settled in and found home with encaustic painting. Since her introduction to the world of encaustic, she has been experimenting with form and texture, often incorporating her collage elements and origami structures into the wax. Her marriage of encaustic paint and soldering is featured in Encaustic Revelation: Cutting-Edge Techniques from the Masters of Encausticamp by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, to be released July of 2014. She is also published in Cloth, Paper, Scissors, and regularly shows her paintings in Kansas City. Amanda has a passion for sharing the healing properties of art with a distinct segment of the Kansas City population, exploited women, and spends much of her time planning projects to promote healing, in addition to teaching encaustic, soldering, and art journaling classes.