I appreciated this lesson. It helped me focus on elements of my work and life that are easily left unconsidered.
Experimenting/questioning/exploring/ being open minded/ problem solving.
Working with people/developing consensus /being flexible
Working with colour/ Working spontaneously/improvisationally/ Working in grids/with repetition/ Piecing, Machine stitching/ Free motion embroidery/ hand embroidery/ general sewing/Stencilling/Dyeing/ Printmaking – etching, collagraphs, silkscreen…
Design/Writing/Editing/ Building/installing carpentry, framing, etc/…what I do all day at the museum
Playing guitar – mostly blues and folk
The Desert Island…bring pretty much everything! Maybe leave the organizing behind! Maybe spread everything all over the island!
Skills to Learn (high on the list, among many others)
Resist dyeing without wax/Beading/Playing the Dobro/Cooking with tofu (just need to make the time for these)
Skills to Strengthen
Visual principles (keeping all the elements of line, form, colour, abstraction, etc., etc., in my head and at my fingertips, at all times, so that I can readily apply them… and break them where appropriate.)
Eco-dyeing and more control in dyeing in general (stronger understanding/competence in getting the outcome/results I’m looking for, rather than merely being content with the happy accident.)
Embroidery – machine and hand – a wider range of techniques
Organization (I apply it well in some parts of my life, but other areas are more “organized chaos”)
Committing to work with mastery/Being patient with the tediousness of making – I’m an idea person. But often ideas are not brought to fruition because of my impatience with the processes involved.
More playing and singing
Perfection – I’m not a perfectionist. In fact, I’m rather impatient (but hopefully not lazy or careless). The closest I’ve come to perfection is when I work with clear intention. And it seems that viewers’ responses to those pieces are usually the strongest when compared to other pieces. For me perfection would be a stronger grasp of subtlety and nuance, and the ability to communicate it. With more practice, and thoughtful consideration, I may approach it, but I don’t believe that I seek perfection itself as a goal. Rather I seek the ability express myself and to communicate well.
Writing is not something I usually do related to my art. However, I am beginning to understand its benefit. Writing, or at least thinking about what I might write, has already generated a number of new creative thoughts. Normally, I tend to wait for inspiration, even though I know that’s not effective. Writing, forces one to ponder and to clarify creative impulses, and I’m already surprised at the new inspiration and ideas that have been a result of this exercise…. For example, I love working improvisationally/spontaneously, and I also love working with grids. I have often considered these in opposition – one free, one constrained or constraining. I haven’t taken the time to rationalize this thinking, but now, considering them as skills that I have and enjoy working with, changes my view of how to use them creatively. I felt previously that I had to struggle with these two opposing forces, almost as if they were adversaries, but in recognizing them as skills, I see now they pose a wonderful creative challenge… working improvisationally within a grid (and there are many grids!) … no idea where this will go, but I’m going to embrace it. It makes my mind buzz and I can see/feel its potential.
An aside: Speaking of contrasting or opposingskills/mindsets, I just read this article. It seemed to me to compliment this week’s lesson.
Analyzing “Night: The Path”
This piece is from a number years ago. The design/form is based on Kuba cloth from the Congo. It’s nearly 18 ft long. It was made when I was working on series inspired by the talks given by Stephen Lewis, who helped focus the world’s attention on the crisis of AIDS, poverty and war in Africa. The story line of the piece was a response to news reports of children had to walk daily from their villages and schools, to sleep in “safe camps” so they would not be captured and forced to become child soldiers.
Overall, I’m please with this work, and proud of it. Authenticity of form was important to me in this series. The Kuba wrap/skirt form includes repeating patterns in a grid and contrasting borders. The silhouettes of individuals (taken, with permission, from photographs of Congolese children), walking as in along march, were printed on muslin from a collagraph plate on an etching press. The opposite pattern of a tiny random checkerboard grid is where I see the weakness. I wanted a simple but dynamic pattern that would not take away from the pattern of silhouettes. There should have been more thought and experimentation with this element of the piece until I came up with the right design (something that reinforced its authenticity, something with related symbolism. There are many grid-type patterns in African woven cloth that contain specific meaning). To me these sections don’t come across as well integrated with the rest of the piece and weakens it.
It all goes back to intention and nuance.