Donna Henes

  • Spring Equinox, 1998
  • Spring Equinox, 1998
  • Spring Equinox, World Trade Center, March 1997

For the past 30 years I have served as an urban shaman, celebration artist and “Unofficial Commissioner of Public Spirit of New York City.” Over these past three decades, I have produced hundreds of public participatory events and ceremonies in parks, plazas, museums, schools and streets throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

There used to be a person whose work it was to keep track of the seasons: to cite the cycles in order to secure a celestial continuity. Today there is no job classification for what I do.

As shamans in every culture always have, I create contemporary rituals for my community which I consider to be all of humanity. My role is that of catalyst: organizing and instigating innovative, de-mystified systems for creative public interaction, celebration and communion.

I work to facilitate tranceformative ways for people to interrelate with each other, their own deepest and best selves and the entire universe, thus creating an energetically joined conceptual web: a real communications network which connects us all at our cosmic center.

The events and rituals that I create are sort of like silly science lessons or non-directed play (certainly more kindergard than avante garde). My goal is to establish a demystified, non-elitist, exhilarating and involving atmosphere where truly sincere participation can occur.

In order to be real, a ritual has to be really done: actually, physically performed by each participant in a personally relevant way. I serve to set up the situation and provide the props. The rest is left to crowd spontaneity guided by the overwhelming and mutually experienced vibrations of the occasion.

All of my work emphasizes community involvement and creative expressions of interconnectivity. I strive to bring all sorts of people together in unusual and non-threatening ways to interrelate with each other in the spirit of sharing, caring and peace.

It is my special concern to offer significant and relevant ways for city people to observe and participate in the wondrous workings of the world around us. The vast majority of the population of the planet today dwells in sprawling, paved, sound and light-polluted megalopolises. We are disenfranchised from the natural world, which is itself in danger of disappearing.

Despite what most of us have learned of the solar system as children, it is difficult to remember on a daily basis that we are rotating and revolving and spinning through space at a terrific speed — all at the same time. We are part of, and at the same time, painfully apart from the plan and patterns of the cosmos.

To that end, I have designed and performed a series of “Celestially Auspicious Occasions,” a term that I coined to denote the special holidays and holy days celebrated by people throughout time in recognition and honor of the universal cycles created by the movements of the sun, moon and stars.

The ultimate goal of this work is a tranceformation of our sense of personal and communal response-ability that comes from the realization of the complex and inexorable interconnectivity of the universe, and hence, hopefully, our determined protection of this, our only planet-home.

I believe that the only thing that can save our Earth from our own shortsighted and selfish attitudes and actions is for us to start thinking of ourselves as the planet. It is time for us to join together as inter-dependent partners, as inter-connected members of our families and communities, as co-existent inhabitants of the earth and as co-creators of our mutual future.

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  • Artist Info

    • Exotic Brooklyn, NY
      US - East

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