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Paper Coffee Pencil Launches–Project Aims To Foster Artistic Community

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Photo Credit: Ben Kinde

“Art enables us to find ourselves and to lose ourselves at the same time,” wrote Thomas Merton in “No Man Is An Island.”

A practitioner of solitude and silence, Merton was also a firm believer in fellowship and community. He knew that all the finding and losing of oneself through the artistic process can be as harrowing as it is rewarding. In other words, without sodality or fraternity, the frustrations, discoveries and benefits of an artistic life lose their dimension.

As Kurt Vonnegut once put it: “You are not enough people.”

And that’s where the Portland-based Paper Coffee Pencil comes in.

The brainchild of Ben Kinde, Paper Coffee Pencil is an inspiring and new project that aims to foster artistic community and connect artists through Gatherings that celebrate emotional connection and fellowship.

The inspiration, Kinde tells SEM, came from his own experiences as an artist. “So much of my life,” he says, “as an artist of different shapes has been consumed by outer and inner criticism (This work isn’t as good as theirs, this sounds the same as my last song, this has already been done, etc. etc. etc…) and unless trained, the judging mind will run free and leave you with a hard drive full of unfinished work. The ‘Gatherings’ will play its part as an external battle against this nature, it is within each of us to conquer our inner criticism but that has to be achieved through individual effort. However, if you can come into a space where a group of artists just listen, sharing stories, encouraging each other and providing support my hope is that it’ll knock down a few of the thresholds to begin your journey. As I read this I realise it kinda sounds like AA…Artists Anonymous but without the ‘anonymous’ part.”

The artistic Gatherings that Kinde has in mind are all around the Portland area now, but will likely expand in the future.

However, Kinde isn’t in any rush and is happy to take a more organic approach to the project. “Honestly,” he says, “this is the first work I’ve done where I haven’t felt even the slightest rush to set real markers of expectation for myself. The work will continue across many different platforms over the coming years I’m sure, and while I have ideas that I’d like to bring into physicality at some point, I rest currently upon patience…something we are not born with, but can save our heart and mind from all things. I definitely hope that my words will resonate and inspire, bringing more and more creative communities together, and of course I’d love to be an active participant, but all I can do is take up every opportunity I am offered to speak on the work I hold dearest to me. At the end of the day, all I care about is sharing a voice that uplifts, whether that’s to one person or many.”

As for where the concept came from, Kinde tells SEM: “The concept started becoming a part of my daily practice at the beginning of the year, but it started as something very different…When I first began writing it was heavily centered around the connection between ‘paper’ and ‘coffee’–the tangible and intangible essence of the forms. But throughout the year as I’ve delved deeper into my own spiritual path, I instinctively gravitated the texture of the work to focus deeper on emotional attachments. Instead of critically analyzing space and art, because there seems to be an abundance of that in our present society, I wanted to present a vulnerable, open-hearted communication about the sensations that took place within my body, as I experienced life through the eyes of artistic and spacial awareness.”