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Category: Feminine Nature

Creating Beauty From Ashes

April 29, 2024

“Creating beauty from ashes,” has always been a figurative encouragement for me to be optimistic amidst difficult times. Then I met Karen Lynn Ingalls. Her story redefined and deepened that phrase in a remarkable way.

K. L. Ingalls New Horizon

Karen is an artist who has made beauty through many mediums, including drawing, painting, and then making beautiful collages from National Geographic magazines when severe illness left her bedridden for years. She has a spirit that gently and tenaciously chooses, amidst great adversity, for art to be the medicine that helps healing come.

One night in 2017 a wildfire sparked in her Napa Valley, California (USA) town. It spread so voraciously that homes and property were destroyed before residents had the chance to process what was happening. Among the casualties was the converted farm building on her friends’ picturesque ranch that Karen used as her art studio. Holding the memory as a fragile living thing, Karen spoke wistfully of the beautiful light that filtered down from the skylights in that studio she loved so much. The wildfire not only destroyed the studio, but all of her supplies and decades of unique, irreplaceable works of art.

Karen describes herself as an optimist, and she was certain that her positive thinking and disposition would fuel her recovery from this tragedy. But nothing could have prepared her for the experience of walking through the charred remains of her artistic life. She recounted the experience of returning for the first time to the studio and being able to recognize different pieces of her art based only on their location and the colors left on a few fragments of canvas. It devastated her, and she sunk to a very low place mentally and emotionally.

Then she received an invitation that would change everything for her. The owner of a local coffee shop wondered if she could provide the art for an exhibit in his shop during the town’s Christmas festival the next month. She accepted, and art once again became medicine, creative medicine that helped a wounded community begin to heal from the fire.

K. L. Ingalls Beautiful Skies

Karen’s video here shows how she literally created beautiful new works of art from the ashes of her former paintings. Procreative powers were at work in the womb of Karen’s imagination to bring healing to herself and her community.

Karen’s remarkable story inspires me as I reflect on my own feminine power to continue to birth goodness, truth, and beauty into the world. Though my child birthing years are past, my procreative powers live on.

Wildfires of illness, death, relationship disruption, war, financial challenges, and other personal tragedies impact women around the world, but the indomitable spirit of women will be there to meet that adversity and create beauty from ashes. 

Lead photo credit: Robert Collins