30 January 2008
A prime reason for my being here is to pursue my artwork in the place that has inspired most of what I produced in the past four years. Many of you know my Brooklyn studio is my sanctuary. I have been very protective of the things I make there. The idea of even showing them to friends, let alone selling them and letting them go to strangers, made me queasy. Every finished piece was too personal, too full of emotion. I didn’t want my studio experience spoiled by careless commentary, uninvited criticism, or lukewarm reception; I also feared false enthusiasm. And I certainly didn’t want to explain anything.
But recently I had a sudden shift in my thinking about my work, and how I need to grow, to take certain risks now. This shift arrived on the whiplash tail of December’s many difficulties. When it came, I was shocked to find that I already knew how to work in a different way, and I had already formed a rather vivid picture of what the next pieces will look like when gathered together for public viewing. Here’s a hint: in that mental picture, everything I have made is some shade of white. (Please do not ask me how I know this. I just do. As well as I know my own name. Having “seen” it, I’m sure I will see it. Where and when, however, remain to be seen. In between lies the work.)
The first photo shows the thoughts that came into my mind as my picture formed – I scribbled them rather hurriedly. Now I look at what I wrote and I’m a little amazed to see it’s almost like a recipe, a set of steps. Also, it reflects my highest values: honesty, authenticity, trust, forgiveness, hope, abundance, giving freely, with love instead of expectation.
The second photo shows my workspace in the early stage of implementation. All those “post-its” are the result of my brainstorming that first night and the following days. It’s a sort of free word association game in which I wrote down every white thing I could think of, and also anything else that popped up as I did so. This flurry of activity is how I began following the recipe: working fast. (Right away I liked the association of “shelter/prison and promise/sentence” evoked by “bridal lace,” “linen shroud,” “white knight,” and “binding vs. bonding.” And I find it really interesting that “release” showed up twice!) (See? Isn’t this fun?)
You can see my materials coming together – various white things, unrelated but already beginning to seem like they belong together. (Yes, those are the presepio sheep from my Christmas tree.) Some things have appeared almost magically since the shift, such as the giant white pearls, which I found in the trash at Santa Maria del Giglio. This is the second step being fulfilled: gathering. (I like this part of my process – being led to things, almost hearing certain objects whisper, “Take me, take me!” but not knowing why yet. I myself do not understand how I know which items to keep, and which to leave behind. Sometimes I have some odd little thing lying around for years before the right use for it is revealed. When I find that perfect fit, I feel very satisfied indeed.)
I’ve already started some minor construction. That’s going to be the trickiest part for two reasons. One: I am seriously short on money, tools, and supplies here (but the second step assures me they are “close by” and easy to find). Two: white has always attracted me, and repelled me, too. I’m nervous because I’m not good at keeping things clean as I work! That’s one reason I have so enjoyed using Venice’s distressed poster scraps, age-scarred and water-spoiled colors, ravaged textures, grit and grime. But! – the third step says I must make mistakes and discard them without regret! That in itself will be a learning curve for me because I can’t bear waste, especially on my limited Venice budget.
So now all I gotta do is do the work, and then trust and send it out into the world, all without any expectations! OK. Good. I’m ready to try.
How do I do that exactly?