Monday, November 17, 2008

Recipe for Creation #1...the results are in!

If you are new to this project be sure to click on the first blog to see how this all manifested itself and the goals of "Recipe for Creation" collaboration.
Recipe #1: Blue Election Dream Fricassee


a smattering of election ballot or other political paraphernalia
a dash of electric blue
a hand-stitched image
a word or image from a dream


1) Begin with a dream you remember vividly. Choose some dreamy music and warm up by dancing out your memory of the dream. You can dance out the roles of the different characters, the action that took place, or just the overall feeling of it. Do this blindfolded.
2) Choose something from your dream dance that stood out to you. It can be a word, a sensation, a person, a scene… Whatever! This is your starting point.
3) Tear up some newspapers from election week. Tear for the sheer pleasure of tearing! Take a couple of scraps from your mess, or use your absentee ballot, or other political paraphernalia and add it to the mix.
4) Go wild choosing blues, wielding your needle and throwing in whatever else strikes your fancy. Don't think too much. Work quickly, freely and most importantly, have fun!

Recipe #1 was a hard exercise of abandonment. So much so I was almost paralyzed from beginning the exercise despite an obvious side of me that desperately wants to do more free-style art.

What emerged was a sinking feeling that in doing this project I would come up empty, that I am void of spontaneity due to a world where I feel compelled to constantly be calculating.

Despite my fears and armed with a sliver of hope I didn’t let my doubts stop me. I took the plunge and put on Ulrich Strauss and went into the space of dreamland.

First off let me say that I am a heavy dreamer. In fact, I feel I dream too much sometimes so I don’t feel rested. On the day I began the process I had several dreams that had left impressions on me, but I decided to go with the one I felt most strongly in my body. I had a dream where I was delving into a vagina. I feel a bit shy putting this out for the whole world to see but I hope it will resonate with other females when I say that the vagina is the core of my femininity and place of great mystery. And recently the vagina represents to me the courage I finally have found to and dive into the dark, unknown places of my soul that scare me.

The first image here is my first mangled creation. I found it to be repulsive, sloppy and meaningless. It was a struggle to enjoy what my hands were creating. After a while however, I found some joy in the motions of the work and found a fabric and a technique that resonated with the inner voice trying to be expressed. Then I moved onto a new piece as seen in the second picture titled “Worthiness of Yuck”.

Throughout the process as I tied up bits of ballots with string and sewed in dashes of electric blue I found it challenging to keep from judging myself and what I was doing.

Recipe #1 made it very clear that I am very attached to making attractive things. Most of my life has been spent creating beauty around me, and even my personality clings to the identity of being constantly optimistic and happy.

This past six months I am finally ready to explore my raw sides, the ugliness and the mess. As an artist I think I validate my path by assuring myself that I am adding beauty to the world and serves a purpose. A voice whispers to me, “if it isn’t lovely…then what purpose does it serve?”

It is clear to me now that the repression of the unproductive and ugly side has served to dampen my full range of expression. Now, upon reflecting on my scrappy-vaginal doily I feel content and pleased with it. Let it be a reminder to me of that beauty has many faces expresses itself in unknown and sometimes unattractive ways.

So that's the tale, on my end, behind the completion of Recipe #1. To read about Ahna's experience of working on this first project, please click here. Thanks for following along, and please do drop us a line if you have an idea for some ingredients to go into our next recipe, or if you have created your own version of this one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Late Bloomers. Joui's recommended reading!

Reading the New Yorker one night I came across the article "Late Bloomers: Why do we equate genius with precocity?"
by Malcolm Gladwell. It is not often that a modern writer captures the truth about faith the artist must put in herself/himself when taking the plunge to dedicate themselves fully to their craft. However, Gladwell does it amazingly.

Gladwell talks about society's obsession with early genius' and little regard to the many artists who took their whole lives to reach greatness. What I find so impressive about this article is that it really makes clear that the dangers of letting the marketplace dictate who is allowed to talented or not. And, consequently can squash many genius'-to-be because they are slower to support themselves in their craft and therefore are forced to stop before they fully bloom.

To any artist commercially successful or not I highly recommend this article. I am still contemplating how to thank Mr. Gladwell for his article that gives me added hope for myself and my own artistic development.