Seeing Things Differently
These last 8 or 10 months I’ve been looking. I’ve been searching for a clearer, more focused creative voice in my art-making. I’ve taken both bold and baby steps in an experimental, somewhat blind search. I’m sure all creatives do so. Our lives and the work we make develop over time, and it takes an investment of wonderful, hard work to make anything of it.
In my own art-making I am drawn to story. Even the hint of it attracts me. Human struggle is the stuff of good stories; not contrived fabrications of careless craft, but rich back-stories of motive and motivation, the “why” and the “how” of human-life.
The quintessential element I look for in a work is some sense of the presence of humanity. Even if a piece has no people in it, if there’s even the slightest evidence of people having been present, I am drawn to the work. I want to know them, to know their story, their journey, and where they’re going.
I want to know what they value, what they’re willing to defend/protect, and why. I want to know what is sacred to them, what they believe in.
For example, I can look at piles of shoes and know that they’ve protected feet. The shoes might be nestled in colorful nooks in a classroom. Each contains a single pair of shoes, one for each young student. Just looking at them, I might hear young voices at creative play in the classroom just beyond.
The pile might also be in a museum of remembrance, the shoes having been gathered from victims of the Jewish Holocaust of World War II. In such a pile, devoid of life and color, I don’t need to see the victim’s bodies to feel the senseless discard of each person represented in the jumble. Just the bent and flattened leather can become a metaphor for how the people, who once cherished these shoes, must have been treated; their life-stories snuffed out in an instant.
When I engage a piece of visual art, I hope for the presence of some artifact of humanity, and I listen to the work for its story.
In the media which make up my visual lens(es), I am drawn to stained glass, mosaics, and quilts. All three can be rendered, in some way, in collage/mixed-media. All three are about story. All three have very long, even ancient, heritages.
What used to merely influence me in my personal search for a voice of expression, has now become integral to a way of seeing. These are lenses through which I am learning to peer into the human condition to discover stories to share. These lenses can even suggest to me a way I might go about composing a piece.
I sense another wonder-filled corner being turned. I sense that, beyond being merely prompted (inspired), I am growing to actually see daily life through these lenses. I am growing toward the visual fusion, which is collage/mixed-media, of seeing disparate story elements flow into the visual harmony of complete works.
I hope I’m making some sense. For me, the ability to see the world in terms of possible artworks is a step I’ve searched for these last 5-years. It opens a whole new chapter for me in the creative process I am working to discover and develop. I relish the journey, and I am looking forward to seeing what becomes of it all.