Speaker 1 (00:00):
I've never been in a prison before, let alone an African women's prison. And Francine's like I want you to go and paint a mural in the prison.
Speaker 2 (00:11):
This is the Bold Artist podcast.
Speaker 1 (00:15):
You have answers, and you're expressing them in your art. Your art is important, and it needs to be seen
Speaker 2 (00:24):
Welcome. And let's get started with today's episode.
Speaker 2 (00:32):
Welcome back to the Bold Artist podcast. Today. I'm here with Charla Maarschalk, and we're having a continuation of the talk we had in last week's episode. And I wanna encourage you, if you haven't already listened or watched last week's episode, it's gonna be important for you to understand this week, because we're gonna dive a little bit deeper into Charla's personal story of how impactful her trip to Kenya was, how it left a mark on her life and her art, and has since then been a ripple effect through her starting Bold School and, um, founding her online painting classes. And so last week's episode, really it laid the foundation, didn't it Charla? Our listeners and Watchers are gonna have to, to know the heart, um, and what you were doing in Africa through last week's episode to really get the full scope of, of today's show.
Speaker 1 (01:27):
Yeah. Yeah. Um, this, today I'm gonna tell the story from a little bit of a different angle and, and this a story I have never told before. I really have never, I've only talked about this with my closest friends and family members. Um, it's, it's a, it's a hard thing for me to talk about on a few different levels, 'cuz it was one of the most impactful moments of my entire life. It's a very, it's a moment that's filled with, with God and my relationship, and who he is and what he means to me. And um, so I find that a very vulnerable thing to discuss on a podcast. And um, I usually cry. So...,
Speaker 2 (02:12):
Okay, you got the Kleenex ready?
Speaker 1 (02:12):
This is hard.
Speaker 2 (02:12):
I've already got the Kleenex out. Charla's gonna cry. We're all gonna cry with her.
Speaker 1 (02:19):
I can feel it.
Speaker 2 (02:20):
But first of all, I could feel at the end of last week's episode, I could sense it going there because we began to talk about what really pierced your heart in Africa. Yeah. And I thanked you at the end of last week's episode, I thanked you for being vulnerable enough to share and let Africa pierce to your heart, to then have the ripple effect it's having today through the Bold School community. and that's just one part of how it's had a ripple effect. Um, there's so much more, but I could feel us getting to that point where I'm like, where is that tissue box?
Speaker 1 (02:53):
Well, one thing I learned in Kenya was how to talk through crying or how to, how to actually just not cry at all. I learned that because every time I tried to talk to people, well in front of a group of people, I would cry. I was just, I was like a wreck there for a little while because of this experience that I had, uh, which was in a prison, by the way. The prison experience I'd like to call it. So to...
Speaker 2 (03:18):
That's all I know so far, just to let everyone know. All I know is that today we're talking about the prison and so Charla. Um, first I, I, I am going to trust that everyone's listened to last week's episode, so they know the setting is in Kenya. And so now paint the picture for us again. What part of Kenya are we in and, and what is this prison?
Speaker 1 (03:38):
Yes. So I went to Kenya. We went, um, it's about, we went to a town called Kitali, which is about an eight hour drive from Nairobi. I don't know the kilometers. I always tell my distances by hours of driving. Now these are on bad roads, so it's, uh, slow driving. Uh, but it was, it's almost on the other side of Kenya from Nairobi. Um, it's inland. So, we were in Kitali for almost three weeks. And the people that we went with who were called Larry and Francine they're Canadians, who'd been living in Kenya for about 10 years, working with kids there, set up a medical clinic there. I went to Kenya with my friend who was a doctor for the work that she was wanting to do. Just personal work that she wanted to do there. Um, I had been to Africa before. My husband's from Zimbabwe.
Speaker 1 (04:24):
So, Africa itself was not new to me, and I had done mission trips when I was younger. So, that was also not a new experience for me. And I've traveled lots, but what happened while I was in Kitali was something I've never experienced before. And I think it was just a pivotal moment in my life in that time. And in my I'll say career. Career sounds so, so like, um, like a sterile, but my career, and my work, and my art are who I... make up a big part of who I am and everything that I do. So, it was a big part of, of, of that part of me, a big moment for that part of me. So, that began back, we went to Kenya in, in the end of January in 2019. So that fall, Larry and Francine were back in Canada where they usually come back once a year to fundraise, and to just come home, and have a break from the work that they do 'cuz it's 24/7, what they do, um, so they were here, and I met them for the first time at Alana's hous , which was a really good idea because we were gonna go work with them for three weeks.
Speaker 1 (05:32):
So, it was a good idea to meet them. So, we went over there to meet, and ask questions, and talk about the trip. And I was like, well, I'm just gonna bring my camera, and hang out for three weeks, that okay? And Francine's like, yeah, I'm so excited. And she's got this really beautiful French accent, and she's like, Charla, I'm so excited to meet you. So, Francine is an artist, and she's a photographer, and she loves to paint. So...
Speaker 2 (05:58):
Speaker 1 (05:59):
That was amazing. And, or I just love her on a deeper level because of it now that I know her well, but in that moment I was like, oh crap. Like I was gonna be the big photographer. I was gonna come and take all these beautiful photos. So, you could like use them in your fundraising efforts to something. And now I find out they already have like, she's not just says she's a photographer, she's a good photographer.
Speaker 1 (06:23):
Wow. She has amazing photographs of, of work that they have done over the years. And, and she has these beautiful portraits in her house that she paints, and I suddenly felt even more obsolete. And it, this is just at the moment I'm like, I'm gonna trudge forward, and I'm gonna go anyways. And then, uh, Larry and Francine are like, Charla, as soon as we heard you were coming, we knew exactly what we wanted you to do. And I'm like, oh my goodness, what? And they're like, we have a prison ministry where we go in and we, we hang out with Francine, goes in the women's prison, Larry and the other guys, the local guys that they work with -- David and Gideon -- go to the, the male prison. And they, they just teach them. They like Francine has done art workshops in the prisons and they do things like she held a fashion show for the ladies in the prison.
Speaker 2 (07:12):
New Speaker (07:12):
There's so much story behind, um, the prison itself. You know, the people that are there in prison -- especially in the women's prison -- are not necessarily there because they did something wrong. They're often there because they're a woman and somebody -- like their husband -- didn't like them anymore. And they, or they had to do something like, um, steal or maybe they stole food, or they were caught in adultery, which was reason to go prison. Or there were women there who murdered their husbands. And the reasons they did that were because their husbands were beating them daily, and they were just defending themselves and ended up killing their husband. Like, there are people who have committed crimes as well, but the women are there because they've lived hard lives and they, they don't know what to do to help themselves. So. Larry and Francine go in to educate, to teach, to support. This prison was very interesting because a lot of women there are pregnant.
Speaker 1 (08:12):
Many of them are not pregnant when they go in. So, you can imagine how they get pregnant. It's a women's prison. Um, they get pregnant by the gaurds. And they're pretty much, um, I think the story went, well, I don't, I probably shouldn't go into too many details about that. But anyways, many of the women were pregnant, and they are giving birth in prison. So, they're allowed to keep their children there until they're four years old or five years old. And these so there's children in the prison running everywhere. So, the women need support for becoming moms while they're in prison. And they also often have to say goodbye to their kids because the kids have to leave when they're four or five years old. And the moms are sometimes still there. Then there's the aftermath of prison when they leave. They could possibly excommunicated from their families and their communities.
Speaker 1 (09:03):
So, they have to figure out how to survive when they get outta prison. So there's, there's so much support needed. These ladies are also wearing, um, like a, almost, it looks like just a, a robe, and they have no undergarments. And the robes are often like these striped dresses are often like falling apart at the seams, and they're ripped. And so something that that Francine does in the ministry is bring them underwear, which is a huge deal for them to have underwear to wear. So, you know, these are the types of they that are happening there. So, I've never been in a prison before, let alone in African women's prison. And Francine's like, I want you to go and paint a mural in the prison, in the women's prison. And I was like, do what? Paint a mural in a prison? I, I don't paint murals, and I don't go into prisons.
Speaker 1 (09:59):
So, I just...
Speaker 2 (10:00):
And did you know this before you even went to Africa that you would be doing this?
Speaker 1 (10:03):
Yeah. So, this was at the meeting with them in the fall where I realized that Francine was already a photographer and an artist, what did they need me for? And she's like,
Speaker 2 (10:12):
But they had some plans for you.
Speaker 1 (10:13):
She said, she said, last week, I literally prayed that somebody would come and paint a mural. And I'm like, okay, I'll do it.
Speaker 2 (10:23):
Speaker 1 (10:24):
Um, and the interesting thing was for the last few years before that I was painting backdrops at my kid's school for their drama production, which was a pretty big production. And I was painting backdrops for them, which was a giant thorn in my side because it was not fun. it was nights -- long nights -- of doing these. So, I had actually created processes to make, to speed this up.
Speaker 1 (10:46):
And so that I could have a team, and I could have people come in, who weren't even artists to help me and get these backdrops finished. So, I was like, all of these things I've learned in painting backdrops, I'm gonna take into this prison. And I had two of the other girls from our team, uh, said that they would come to the prison with me. So, there was three of us, and we would paint this mural together. So, that became my, the one goal that I had while in Kenya, the one thing I was gonna do, was my project, and I had to make happen. So,,,
Speaker 2 (11:16):
Speaker 1 (11:18):
Um, I designed the mural. They sent me photos and sizes of what I was gonna paint on this giant, uh, like storage container, almost. It was a really giant thing. It was like a storage container. Um, and I would have that surface to paint on and I would be able to, hopefully, get paint. Hopefully. That's an important part of this process.
Speaker 1 (11:43):
So, we would have to get paint, but it would be limited. And I probably wouldn't have many colors. So, I decided I would need to be able to paint it with just basic three primary colors. And if you're, and if you've ever painted before, you know, that not every blue is created alike. So, I was gonna have to be able to have to work with what I had, right? So, I had to create it with that in mind. And so I created a portrait. I had created a mural with portraits of mothers and children, and in Africa, one of them there's a, a tribe there and not all tribes are the same. Their traditions and cultures are different, and they're often waring with each other. Um, but there is one tribe that wears, you've probably seen them like beaded necklaces around their neck.
Speaker 1 (12:27):
And they often like have long stretched out necks because they, they add these beads, and layers of beads. And I think several cultures wear the beads. But the beads tell stories of their, their tribe and their family. So, uh, these aren't the exact stories, but just as an example, you know, if you get married, you put on a certain colors of beads around your neck, and then when you have children, you have more. And, and so your beads tell your story in your community and, and probably, uh, give you status. So, they're important. So, and I love the,,, Francine had all these incredible photos of all these different tribes that they had worked with. And she had these women with all these beads around their neck. And I'm like, I love that idea that these beads tell the story of your family. These women, as a woman and a mother, I'm thinking, even though they're in prison, and there's a whole lot of stuff going on around them, they've got children and what's your number one priority in life when you're a mom, it's your child.
Speaker 1 (13:27):
So, if I was in their place, I thought my number one thought would be, how do I raise a child in prison? How do I let him go out without me in this world, this crazy world that I can't really trust. You know, what, what is, that would be my number one concern is how do I raise my child, and how do I protect him when he's leaving? And I'm still here.
Speaker 2 (13:48):
Speaker 1 (13:49):
So I, I painted, I created the mural of these, these women with this story around their neck. And then these beads kind of came off of their neck, like trailed up into the sky and became flowers. And these little kids were actually kind of reaching up to, to grab these flowers and these beads. And the idea was that the seeds, like they were seeds turning into flowers, and the children were getting the flowers.
Speaker 2 (14:17):
Speaker 1 (14:18):
So, the idea was that the seeds that the mother plants into the soul and the spirit of her child when he's young will go with them wherever they go, no matter if mom is there or not. And that's true for us here, you know, like I have a 17 year old, that's graduating and Marijanel, you have graduated children. I'm like, you're in the world, and I'm hoping that I was able to plant some good seeds so that you can use them in, in the time that you need them. So, um, I felt like that was a pretty basic message. You know, it was a normal message for a mom. And, and I, but I wanted to encourage them that I understood, that they're not alone. You know, there's more people, the whole world understands. So, I do this. I'm like, okay, this is a good idea, you know, and I got it all figured out. And then the day comes, and this is where it gets, this is where everything's changed for me.
Speaker 2 (15:09):
So, so far. But until this point you have designed this mural it's, it's in your heart and head, probably sketched, and you're hoping to get the paint. So
Speaker 1 (15:19):
We, okay. Yeah. And we've gotten, we get there, and we get the paint, and we get the brushes. We got everything that we needed. I mean, they were very basic supplies, uh, what I had expected, but I had designed it so that I could work with that. And I had to two ladies coming with me. Um, so
Speaker 2 (15:35):
Who were painters? Or you were, or they were just gonna take direction from you?
Speaker 1 (15:38):
They were just taking direction from me. Oh, okay. And so we're, we're headed out to the prison, and it's Francine, and me, and the other two girls, and it was Maureen and Julie. And, uh, I was like, so Francine...
Speaker 2 (15:51):
Which, I found out, I know Maureen, by the way. I didn't know that until the other day.
Speaker 1 (15:54):
Speaker 2 (15:55):
Yeah. I'll just throw that in there. Hi Maureen.
Speaker 2 (15:56):
Yeah. That's I'll just throw that in there. Hi, Maureen.
Speaker 1 (15:59):
Um, so we're driving to the prison, and I could just, I could like feel the weight. I'm, I'm gonna try and be really vulnerable, and really like, just tell everything that I was feeling. I could like feel the weight of, of it. I didn't even realize what the weight was. But we're driving, and we, we cross the, the, we go in, we cross the barrier to the prison and Francine's like, okay, guys, you need to realize this, this is a prison. Like, these guards are serious. Like you, there's a lot you can't do in here. There's a lot you can't say. We, just the fact that this white woman is allowed to cross into here and have authority in this prison, which they've granted to her because of the work that she had done there and the impact that she had had. They've granted this to her.
Speaker 1 (16:47):
She's like, we cannot take this for granted. Like we have to respect it 'cuz they can take this away at like a glance. So like, oh my goodness. Like I, I could wreck this for her, if I do this wrong. If I do something wrong, So, we're terrified. You know, we're getting in there, and we're terrified. So, we cross in, and we go and uh, we, we cross through one gate, but we're still not in the actual prison. And then we're we go to the, the prison head person, whatever they're called the what is the prison? It's the same name there as it is in every movie. I forget what they're called. Uh, this lady, the like the highest authority of the prison.
Speaker 2 (17:27):
Yeah. I I'm drawing a blank, too.
Speaker 1 (17:29):
Totally drawing a blank. Like, so we meet her, and she's like, well, you know, I don't know. Maybe you'll get in. Maybe won't. And we're like, uh, okay. So, she leaves us there and we're just standing at the gate and Fran's like, oh, like we need to get in, like, we, we are on a tight schedule cause we're going to Pokot. We hadn't gone yet. And she's like, we have three days to get this done. And we're like, okay, well maybe it's not gonna work out. And I'm like, whatever, like maybe it's not gonna work out. I'm good with leaving. And, and then I'm like and Francine, you're not gonna leave us here. Right. Like you're not just gonna leave us at the prison. You're staying. And she's like, oh yeah, yeah, I'll be here. So, so we're waiting, and all of a sudden we hear drums playing all these drums playing, and I'm like, oh my goodness, they're playing drums.
Speaker 1 (18:16):
And we're outside the, the prison walls. We're missing this amazing, like, all these women are in there playing drums and singing, and we're missing it. And then all of a sudden they open up the gate, and they're like, come in. And what had happened was they went in and they gathered all the women together in like the, the yard. And they brought out their drums, and they wanted to greet us in songs. And we,
Speaker 2 (18:43):
This is not what I was expecting.
Speaker 1 (18:44):
Me neither . And I'm, I'm trying to stay in my head right now out because as soon as I, I tried to enter into the emotion of that moment, this is where I lost it. Um, so we walk into the prison, and like, this is, this is the reason I'm there is to paint this mural. And I was like, okay, just let me in the prison, so I can paint the mural. And we get greeted by every prisoner, every woman that was being held as a prisoner there singing -- and they weren't just singing a song, they were singing, like, Amazing Grace. Like it's yeah. I could feel myself, I'm going. I'm going
Speaker 2 (19:22):
Yeah, and it's funny enough. We were talking about having Kleenex nearby. And I don't have any nearby, so...
Speaker 1 (19:25):
So, okay. Uh, so we're walking in, and I'm realizing these women are like worshiping God. You know, like these are not just some, it wasn't even, it was an African language, but I could understand the melody. And uh, so we walk in, and they just want to meet us. And every single one of them wanted to greet us. They wanted to shake our hand and hug us -- every single woman. So, all, like, there, there were the four of us. And as we went down the line and, and physically greeted every single woman, all of us just, just started to cry. Like our heart just over poured with, it was just love. Like, I don't even know how to explain it. But the fact that these women were, I mean, living and what I would think would be one of the worst lives to live imprisoned in Africa, in a prison in Africa, they were in bare feet.
Speaker 1 (20:26):
Their clothes are falling off of them. They had babies on their hips. And they were in prison. And they were greeting us with smiles, and love, and songs. And it was amazing. So, the emotion of that was, was great. And I was just bawling my eyes out. Tears, just rolling down my cheeks. I didn't even know I was crying. It was just, I, it was just happening. It was just a response. And so we, they all sat down and the prison guard came up and spoke and introduced us in, and we had a translator. So, speaking through translators also very difficult. And then Francine gets up and introduces me. And she's like, and Charla's going to explain what she's here to do. And I'm like, I'm gonna, what? I'm still bawling my eyes out. I cannot compose myself. Um, and she, and she's like welcome Charla to the stand to speak.
Speaker 1 (21:24):
Uh, I'm like, I can't speak. So, I have to get up and now tell them what I'm gonna do. And I'm seeing for the first time where I'm gonna paint, and it's like the, the whole prison yard is here, and there's a big building over here where they, I never went in it. So, but this is where I think they go to eat and stuff. And then on the other side, so there's a big water, a water container in the middle where they get the, or drinking water from. And on the other side is this big wall where I'm gonna paint. And basically it's just the prison yard and this painting wall where I'm gonna stand for three days and paint with these women watching me. And so I'm explaining to them what I'm gonna paint. So I'm like, okay, I'm gonna be here with you guys for a couple days.
Speaker 2 (22:08):
And is someone translating? What, what you're saying?
Speaker 1 (22:10):
Yeah. And they're translating. And I want them to know the heart that I've come with, like that this was for them. And I have pictures of it. And I wanna explain what it means so that they can understand the message and, and hopefully it will be beautiful and impact them. And as I'm telling the story, they, they start to cry. And again, I'm, I'm controlling myself here a lot. This is hard for me to tell, um, and stay, stay able to speak. So, I'm like shaking. Um, so they start crying and they're overwhelmed with emotion, and they wanna hug me again. And they're, they wanna say like how grateful they are. So, it's, I think some of them did speak and was translated to me about how excited they were and how grateful they were.
Speaker 2 (23:01):
Speaker 1 (23:03):
So, that happened. And I, I finished my story, I got it all out and we ,greeted and hugged again. And, and I think we did a few other things. And then we left for the day. And as we, I was still crying. And as we walked out of the, of the prison, I was, I cried and I cried. I got in the car, drove back to the house. I cried the way in the car. I went in my room, and I sat on my bed, and I cried for hours like hours. And so Alana comes in and she's like, Charla, you need to write down what you're feeling, 'cuz something is transforming in you right now. And I'm like, I don't know what it is. I just need this all to come out. So, I start writing, and I just started to realize, and this is what I referred to in the last, well, you referred to actually Marijanel the last podcast, I just had this heart piercing moment.
Speaker 1 (23:57):
And it wasn't meeting these kids on the street that just stole my heart. These little boys that were living on the street, or the, the Pokot kids, or the amazing families that were taking kids off the street. And they had like 12 street kids living in their little houses, and they're providing for them. Those, those things were incredible, and eye opening, and life changing. But when I drove away from the prison that first day, I realized that here I was, an artist, um, I have to say this with great composure, an artist who, so me included and many people that I've met before and since then who say our work is just, is not important. Our work is for me in my studio alone. And I'm not gonna the world. I'm not gonna share it. I'm not gonna do anything with it. I'm not even gonna paint because I don't even feel like I'm worthy enough to even paint because it's a useless thing to do.
Speaker 1 (24:55):
Here I was, one of those artists, on the other side of the world, I was, I was taken to the other side of the world so that I could carry a message to these women who some would call the outcast or the, the lowest cast of society and deem unimportant and unworthy of anything. Here they were, and I had traveled across the world as a messenger to bring them a message of love through art. Compose myself, again. Like through art. It wasn't money. It wasn't, here's a thousand dollars to go buy a new hut for you and your child or get some underwear or some clothes or food to eat. It was art. And it was impacting them. It, they were, they were so grateful, and so thankful, and they hadn't even seen it yet. They didn't even know me, or what I could accomplish, what I could do, but it was impacting them.
Speaker 1 (25:58):
And I mean, and when it was done, which I did finish it, they had a piece of colorful art that reminded them every day, who they are, and the power that they get to carry into their children's hearts. You know, that was the message. And it wasn't from me. This, this wasn't me. I was a messenger. This is where, this is why I say this was an experience with my faith and my trust in, in my God and my creator and my savior. Because He -- I don't want cry on my podcast. Usually, I don't wanna cry.I don't cry in front of anybody. Okay. Oh. That He loves them so much that He needed a person to be willing to go there and suffer in that heat and be terrified and scared and all the rest of it.
Speaker 1 (26:54):
But He needed somebody to go there and give them this message that they are loved and they're cared for. And they're watched over and their lives matter. And not just their lives, but their lives of their children that were born in prison and quite possibly out of rape -- those children mattered, and their lives mattered. And that was what I was there for. And it was so overwhelming. I couldn't, I couldn't not just, I had to cry to let all that out. 'Cause I wouldn't have been able to accomplish the, the feet that I was there to do. And it, it was just a moment what, what I wrote in my journal when I, when I read it back, 'cuz I can't really even remember all that came out of me that day was the importance of, of the work that we do as artists. You know? And, and this is the message I preach. If you've been in my school or heard me talk at all, it's the message I preach. Yeah. Is that you have a unique message to give to the world, and you have the power to impact people's lives and change them. And I don't. And you
Speaker 2 (27:55):
And you actually say that right in the intro of the podcast.
Speaker 1 (27:58):
Speaker 2 (27:58):
it's right in the intro.
Speaker 1 (27:59):
Yeah. I probably do.
Speaker 2 (27:59):
You're voice saying your voice matters.
Speaker 1 (28:02):
Speaker 2 (28:02):
You matter. Your art matters. The world needs to see it and hear your voice.
Speaker 1 (28:06):
Yes. And I say it because I experienced it in that moment.
Speaker 2 (28:11):
Speaker 1 (28:11):
And it, it wasn't even, it wasn't about me. It was like something was, was moving and flowing through me. It couldn't have happened if I was unwilling to use my hands to paint it, it, if I was unwilling to get on that plane, when I bought the ticket to go there, I didn't have any money. Like we were just scraping money together so that I could go, like, none of that was easy for me or our family at the time. And I could have easily said no at so many places. And I did not know that that moment is going to have the impact on me, like it did or on the people there like it did. And it was something that I did and I left there and I've, I've thought a, a lot over the last few years about even sharing that message because I didn't wanna share it.
Speaker 1 (29:01):
And for it to be, um, uh, like become unimportant or, or like, go viral or, or be something that people are, think that I'm trying to make money off of. Like it's, it's something so deep, so powerful, so special. I only wanna tell this story so that people can hear it so that they can do that. And they can know that they can do what I, what I did in the sense of how important their work is. It's not about making money or, or starting a business or being famous or, or, or doing good work or feeling good about yourself. Cuz you did something good. You went to Kenya and helped some orphans. Like it's not that it's that your work is powerful here. There's people here, there's people on your street that need to hear it in your town, in your city. You don't necessarily have to go across the world. For me, it was that, that I was taken from another one country to the next, in a place that I couldn't even speak to the people. I was able to give a visual message to them that would impact them and is still impacting people there now that never met the team that painted it. But there's people coming in, and it's still being impacted in their lives.
Speaker 2 (30:15):
And I feel like the tears and that deep release of emotion was you, you coming face to face with purpose, like spiritual purpose, not just purpose with your talent. We can be purposeful all day to paint and, you know, render images, but deep, deep, spiritual purpose where you were knowing I'm on the face of the earth right now for this moment, for, or these people, for this painting. And you know, you'd think that you'd hear from an artist. Oh, one of my most impactful -- I'm making something up right now -- but my most impactful moment is when I hung in this prestigious gallery and this famous person complimented my work. Which is great. Those are highlights of careers. But what you've described here goes beyond all of that superficial career highlight monetary value kind of work. It goes way beyond to a deep, deep spiritual meaning that I'm here for this moment in time with this spiritual purpose using my artwork, using the gifts I was given to create with. And that I can see, I, I can see and understand. I feel like the impact that it had on you.
Speaker 1 (31:38):
Yeah. I, I feel like I'll never have of a moment like that again. Like that, that moment, I think, I think the way I described it at the end of the night, when Alana came back in, she's like, are you ready to talk about what's just happened? I was like, I don't know if I could talk yet. But I said, I felt like, and I, I already have a deep connection with, with God and who He is. And I've I've I know, I feel like I know Him deeply. I know Him well. And I said on this at this moment, I'd be like, this is the surface of who God is, who he's created me to be. And His love for me. And I'm just right here. That's what I learned today. I've realized that, or maybe I'm just under the surface.
Speaker 1 (32:26):
I'm like, I realize that I just learned a lot more than I ever thought I was gonna learn in my lifetime. And I realized there's so much more, much more that this was just the surface of what is actually happening in our lives and relationships, if we're willing to trust and move forward. And I know not everybody here believes in, in the spiritual world, let alone a God who created us. Um, but I do. So, I'm just speaking very openly about what it all meant to me in that moment. And I, I just recognize that I've, I've read the Bible. I've prayed. I've, I've, I've, I've had many moments where I've listened to God or listened for Him, and I thought I knew him well, which maybe I did, but that day I realized the depth of, of love and sacrifice that I would probably never understand. I'll never get very far in that. Yeah. I think that that moment was a moment that might be a once in a lifestyle moment of recognizing how deep purpose and meaning, and I don't know, I don't know. It's, it's so hard to even just put into words. It's, it's why I just cried for hours. And I, I just wanna say I don't cry. Like I am not a crier. All of my friends are like, Charla, do you even have tears in your eyes? I don't cry only maybe in like...
Speaker 2 (33:53):
Yeah. So, this was the floodgate opening, the floodgate.
Speaker 1 (33:55):
Yeah. It's what was so shocking about it. And I think my friends were like, oh, I don't know what do you right now. You're crying.
Speaker 2 (34:03):
So, if there's an artist listening and I, I do know that there's a lot of artists who have faithfully listened to, listen or watched all the podcasts and, and they've grown in this journey with us, Charla. They've, they've heard so much of what you've had to share because it's quite often that it's you and I on podcast. And, and now we're here at today's episode where they hear this, this deep spiritual journey, and their hearts are just as open and, and aching and pierced as yours was that day. As they're listening to this story, which I can imagine a lot of hearts are gonna be just really touched from hearing your moment, your moment of heart piercing in Africa. What would you like to share with that artist today? Maybe they'll never go there to that soil or to that place in the same kind of story, but what would you say to them in their life and in their world as they're feeling with you today?
Speaker 1 (35:07):
Well, I think like that story feels big because I, I went across the world, and I was in a women's prison and you know, it was it's a, it was a big thing. But that was just, that was just, uh, well, one, couple of hours -- we were weren't even there an hour that day -- um, of my life, you know, that was not, that's not, what's needed for something for you to step into these things and step into your purpose or whate or whatever you wanna call it. I think that that began with those first steps, which I talked about in the last podcast of, should I go to Kenya? Am I, is it, do I even have a place there? Like, or am I just gonna waste everybody's time and effort? I'm gonna take up a seat in the car, you know, like, am I just gonna be a waste of space?
Speaker 1 (35:55):
Really. Like you have these, these thoughts about am, am I important enough to go? Should I go? Is this something that's meaningful? But I had to trust that there was purpose, and there was a place for me. And it's not me, Charla Maarschalk. It's it's every single human in the earth has a place somewhere, and you have to trust that this next step that you're being directed into is going to be purposeful. You have to just do it. Sometimes we make a mistake and we go in the wrong direction, but you can only learn from that to go to the next place. So, it's not about a big step in going to Africa or, or helping the home downtown. It's it's not about giving of yourself, um, to places of need, like it's not about that at all. It's why it feels a little cliche that it happened in Africa for me.
Speaker 1 (36:47):
It's not about those cliche moments. It's just about trusting that your work has a unique purpose and you need to just take the next step into it. That was an hour in my life. When I came home from Kenya, nobody knew what I had experienced, and I tried to tell them and they, they didn't get it. Like, okay.
Speaker 2 (37:07):
Words aren't enough to describe.
Speaker 1 (37:09):
Yeah. They're like, okay, cool. You had a deep experience in Africa. Well, isn't that what happens when you go to Africa? I don't know. I've never been there. Like, you know, like that's, that was the response. Or, people were like, cool. That's amazing. Can I see the pictures? You know, they love me, and they're trying to, to connect. So what are you gonna do with that for the rest of your life? When I came back, I had to figure out what am I gonna do with that?
Speaker 1 (37:31):
This isn't for my friend, like Marijanel to even necessarily take something from it's, what am I going to do now? Like, I've experienced something, now it's, it's up to me to take that and do something with it. So, then I had to take the next step forward. And as, so I'm trying to say to anyone that's listening that feels impacted and feels like there's something resonating in your spirit, you just have to take the next step forward. It might seem cliche, or it might seem, yeah, like there's no power in it. There's no use in it. I actually thought I was creating an online class was that I could have some income, so I could go back to Kenya, and then COVID happened and the world locked down. You know, like, so I did, so I was like, well, what am I doing this for?
Speaker 1 (38:20):
Then I started realizing actually, I'm, I'm sending this message to other people, and they're being impacted. And I was shocked by that. I didn't even realize that's what I was doing. And then I started seeing what that step had actually opened up. And now we're doing a podcast, and I'm telling this story to the world or to the people listening anyways, which I thought I would never do. So, I don't know what this is gonna open up. So, you just have to trust that next step. Go with your gut on it. If you're the praying kind, pray and trust that you're being led in the right path, even though it doesn't feel easy, or it doesn't make sense, and you can't see the outcome, and you can't see what it's purpose is. Like, just, just do it, just go forward. And I'm not the first person to preach this message by any means, but...
Speaker 2 (39:07):
Well, and I'm thinking how you mentioned in the beginning of that, that this impactful moment happened for you in such a big way, like a trip to Africa, and in such an extreme way, which is, is amazing. But there, for many of us listening, it could happen in simply going and painting your next painting. Simply going to, you know, thinking of outreach, just going to your local soup kitchen or, you know, like whatever it might not be in terms of outreach or mission type of work. It could be in, in, you know, just, um, waving to that neighbor who feels lonely. Like there, it's... one thing I've learned here at the Bold Artist podcast from interviewing, um, all the different artists and asking them, what is your bold, brave move that you've made as an artist, a lot will have a big story, but most have small, small, brave steps that they've taken.
Speaker 1 (40:06):
Speaker 2 (40:06):
That amount to bigger things. And so I think even in hearing your story and how much it's gonna pierce so many hearts and people are gonna be at this state where they're like, what can I do? What can I do to have that moment that impacts me and, and makes me feel the kind of purpose Charla felt, it might not come in a, a big trip or a big, bold move. It could come in just that quiet, whisper, during a cup of tea.
Speaker 1 (40:38):
Yeah. And I think those, you gotta also think about the moments that come before and the moments that come after those big moments. Um, like when I started painting the backdrops for my kids' school plays, my kids weren't ever in the plays. And I just, I was a known artist, and it just kind of seemed like, oh, I'm the artist. I have to go paint the backdrops. And I don't have time. I'm like spending every night of my life there, and it was insane. And I did it for three years and every year I tried to make the process better. And every year I complained, every minute I painted. And I'm like, what am I, why am I here? It seemed like it served zero purpose in my life. And yet I felt a massive, almost like magnetic pull to do it. Like this physical thing was pulling me in there.
Speaker 1 (41:30):
And I'm like, is this guilt? Or is this like, what am I doing? And why am I doing, I didn't understand it, but I never felt released from it in my spirit. So I did it. I kept doing it.
Speaker 2 (41:41):
Speaker 1 (41:42):
And that weird little uncomfortable, unenjoyable step. And even like on opening the very first time I did the back drops, I put my heart and soul on these backdrops, and the play happened, and nobody talked about the backdrops. Nobody. Like that, there was, there was no like satisfaction of, Charla, those backdrops are beautiful. Like my friends said that. Nobody else did. I'm like all that work for nothing. I didn't even get any fame from it. You know, the, the stupid thoughts that you have. But that step forward into something I didn't enjoy, and didn't understand, didn't see a purpose in that. Um, prepared me to just physically paint that mural.
Speaker 1 (42:28):
I've not painted a mural since. I've not painted a mural since, you know, like it, it wasn't about backdrops or murals, but that was a step in preparation for it. So as artists, I think we had, that is just a, a step in trusting the next step in your journey. That's gonna lead you into a place like the prison moment. I literally call it the prison moment. It's just sounds like something, it didn't even happen to me, but the prison moment in my life. Um, yeah, there's, I, I mean, I could talk about it in so many different metaphors and levels, but yes, it's just taking that uncomfortable step.
Speaker 2 (43:07):
Yeah. Charla, thank you for being willing to share with us. I know that it's something you hesitate even sharing with your friends and the world around you, because it is so personal. So, thank you for sharing on the Bold Artist podcast. And, uh, I'm not saying that lightly. I, I mean it, I, I feel that, um, it's a story that has needed to be told because it is so special and personal and deeply influences who you are. And I know that the work you do in teaching other artists and influencing other artists to be the best that they can be, but also, not just in art, but in, in their whole life and in their whole personhood, I feel like it's important for us to know where that began in you or part of where it began in you. And so thank you for sharing it and, and letting us in.
Speaker 1 (44:06):
Well, thank you for listening. if everybody made it. If Anybody made it to the end of the podcast. Thank you for listening.
Speaker 2 (44:12):
I know they'll be the ones I know they'll be the ones that made it to the end.
Speaker 1 (44:14):
There'll be some. They will do it. And, you know, just, just to like finish the story in really quick. I, I painted the mural over the next three days, and Francine drove me to the prison the next day and left us at the gate. And we walked into the prison alone, and they shut the prison gates behind us. And we're like, we are locked inside of prison in Africa. Like, what are we doing? Are we crazy? Like, this is insane. We're like, okay, let's just go paint and hope.
Speaker 2 (44:44):
Let's hope Francine can get back.
Speaker 1 (44:46):
And hope to God that somebody comes back. Like, that's literally what happened to, we stayed there the whole day. And we painted in the African sun, and our backs got completely and utterly burnt to a crisp. Cause we, we didn't, there was nowhere else to go. Like we weren't didn't even use the bathroom.
Speaker 1 (45:04):
Like, I don't know who tp ask to go to the bathroom. And we talked to the prison guards and, and the moms would hang out and the kids come and play with us. And I remember I sat at the water cooler just to get some shade and to take a break for a minute with all the ladies sitting there, I, I just went and sat and this lady offered me her food. Like, she she's like, are, are you hungry? And she offered. And it, the food looked really good, actually. Wow. It was like kale and which they ate every day, all day. But I was like, that looks good. I like rice. Yeah. I'm like, I am not going to eat your food. Thank you. But I am not gonna take food from you. Um, you know, like these, there's a lot of moments in there. So, for three days we painted in those conditions and we completed the mural.
Speaker 1 (45:50):
And so we have some photos of it that we'll, we'll put up and share, and, um...
Speaker 2 (45:55):
Okay, perfect. We walked outta there three days later, just completely changed people on at other levels, you know, like different levels that you would expect from that experience. But we did do it, and it was pretty cool. We hung out in the prison, and they let us go at the end of it. And they let us take photos of it too, which they told us we weren't gonna be allowed to take photos, but they did let us take some photos. So yeah, that that's a whole other story in itself, but that was a lot of fun. And I thought some people would be wondering what happened after I cried for eight hours. So, we did it.
Speaker 2 (46:23):
Well. Well, and you made it through the podcast without like a lot of tears, like....
Speaker 1 (46:29):
I have learned you just,
Speaker 2 (46:29):
You're looking pretty good.
Speaker 1 (46:30):
You stay up here, you don't let yourself sink into that emotion. Yeah. It's hard to do.
Speaker 2 (46:38):
Yeah. Thank you everyone for joining us on the Bold Artist podcast and listening to this amazing, profound story of Charla Maarschalk and her prison moment. And, uh, and if you haven't heard last week's episode where she shares about the Kenya Girl, make sure to catch that one as well. 'Cuz it gives us the fullest most full-circle story to hear both of these podcasts together. So, thank you everyone for joining us. And until next time, keep creating.
Speaker 1 (47:08):
Thank you everybody. And we're gonna call this, I think I went to prison for three days. That's what we're gonna call this podcast.
Speaker 2 (47:15):
Speaker 1 (47:16):