At Parish Episcopal, a private school in North Dallas, counselor Vicki Millican has invited Blessen to teach several MasterPEACE sessions to middle-schoolers. The goal, Millican says, is "to help our students gain a deeper understanding of empathy and learn to find more peace in their lives....I am quite certain that their participation has made an indelible impression on them that will lead them to think and act more peacefully throughout their lives."
And that's precisely the point, Blessen says. "We're showing children how creativity can help us slow down and make some better choices. The very act of creating brings children to a calmer state."
That's the same effect making the 29 Pieces had on Blessen, after all. "When the murder happened, I knew something had changed," she says. "For three years I listened to people affected by one act of senseless violence. It had been a blip on Fox news, four paragraphs in the paper. But it just touched me deeply to discover the value and cost of one life. After those years of exploring things that were disturbing and dark in the world, I suddenly had a profound and transcendent experience that I expressed in the 29 Pieces. Now I want to share that."
In her cozy studio in Deep Ellum, Blessen has been working on a long-term project to expand the 29 Pieces to larger-than-room-size multimedia installations. With an estimated budget for the sculpture of $3.5 million, the super-sized 29 Pieces will become a traveling exhibit, or, if she can find the right building, a permanent installation similar to Donald Judd's massive Chinati Foundation in Marfa.
"It's time for artists to work on a larger scale," she says. "Art is going to manifest in ways we can't even anticipate yet."
Today Marks the Beginning, P.O. Box 140962, Dallas, Texas 75214. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.