Saturday, May 27, 2006

Today's Thoughts on Art, Business, Priorities, Career, the ‘Meaning’ of Art, and More… (or less?!)

After reading several QuiltArt blogs today, I realized I wanted to think more deeply about the topics brought forward. Laura Cater-Woods has taken a leave-of-absence from blogging. She headlined today’s entry with the title “Seasonal Molt,” saying “from time to time I let go of things in my life. The intention is generally to reassess where my time and energies are going. In a way it's a form of clutter reduction, if that makes any sense to you.”

I like that idea of “clutter reduction.” Frequently I find myself confronted with having over-committed myself, and today is no exception. I’m in the midst of curating three separate shows involving two different groups of artists – and I’ve never curated a show before, so there is a major learning curve in progress!!! Additionally, we have the out-of-state HS graduation of our eldest granddaughter in a few weeks, followed by a major quilt show here in NJ (for which I am curating the art-quilt special exhibit), followed by the annual one-week-per-grandchild visits of the summer. Not to mention, the gardening and other seasonal obligations. I’m also in the midst of creating a whole new body of work having been totally inspired by the workshop with Laura at Greenville Arms fiberarts workshop last month. Laura helped me to see my work from a different perspective – and she did it in the most subtle ways. I hardly recognized her guidance at the time, but her questions and occasional comments pointed me more solidly towards my own strengths as an artist. All this and I’ve decided to become more serious about developing my art career, which means entering more competitions and all that entails…. Clutter reduction??? It’s a great idea. I wonder where to begin!

After reading Laura’s blog, I came to Lisa Call’s, and she has just returned to blogging after a month off. She wrote, “I’ve spent the last month doing a lot of thinking about my art and my art career and how this blog fits into the picture. I’m not sure I came to any conclusions or definite ideas but there are some murky thoughts that are starting to take shape and I’ll be talking about them over the next few weeks as I get back into blogging.”

Notice, I didn’t even mention blogging in my list of commitments above. I guess I don’t look upon blogging as a big responsibility so much as a place where I can let my mind roam – more slowly since I’m typing the thoughts – and explore whatever happens to be important at any given moment. My original plan was to blog at least once a week, keep the blog mostly art oriented, and put up lots of photos. I’ve done OK on those three intentions. While I no longer post weekly, I post several times per month. The blog is definitely ‘art’ oriented, although my definition of art is rather broad. For instance, I love photography, so there are lots of photos on the blog, many of which can be considered “artistic” even when the subject matter is not art, per se.

For me, blogging actually forces me to think in a more linear fashion in order to explain my thoughts, ideas, process, etc. I find blogging helpful to my art because I learn so much from other bloggers and I’d like to return the favor by sharing my perspectives, techniques, etc. And blogging regularly helps me focus on whether or not I am actually producing art regularly. If I have nothing to share after two weeks, it’s time to get back to working in the studio and produce something.

Of course, some of my pieces are not shared on the blog because I am considering entering the work(s) in competition and the rules sometimes indicate that the entries be “unpublished.” So my best work generally doesn’t show up on my blog until AFTER a major show where it has made its debut.

Anyway, I’m glad Laura and Lisa got me thinking along these lines today.

Then I read Rayna Gilman’s blog, where she wrote on Thursday, May 25 asking some vital questions that developed following her completion of Ted Orland's The View from the Studio Door. Her questions: “Does this mean that art is art only if it has content? And does the content (overt or not) have to be political or ecological? MUST it make a statement?”

Must art “say something?” Good question. Perhaps it must – or at least it does simply by virtue of being created. Just what it says might well belong to two totally different realms – that of the of the viewer and that of the artist. And is ‘art’ really about conscious content or does it speak more to the subconscious or emotional aspects of the artist and/or viewer?

For me, my art primarily arises from my unconscious far more often than from my conscious mind. I move with my emotional connection to the fabrics, colors, threads, the underlying idea/design and the inspiration. More often than not, the inspiration is visual, visceral, or emotional and really not very conscious. Less frequently an image or design, along with conscious thoughts and feelings, grows within me for a period of time, sometimes even researched, but only coming out in small doodles or phrases jotted in my journal. When the time comes for that idea to become something, I take all that conscious preparation with me as I step outside time/space and into the creative mode. And that, I guess, is where art really happens for me. Not in the realm of consciousness but in the realms below consciousness – the emotional, spiritual, psychic realms of heart and spirit.

Back to Rayna’s questions, “Is art ‘art’ because it has content? Does art have to be political or ecological? Must it make a statement?” Art simply HAS content. Art speaks. The subject is irrelevant really – but the message IS. Whether or not an intended message is actually delivered is rather subjective, I suppose, although many artists would disagree with me on that. All I really know is that my art speaks – it doesn’t necessarily say what I think it says or what I want it to say. But my work speaks and resonates with those who share a common symbolic understanding, or so it seems to me…

Once again, back to Rayna, who’s entry today began, “Today, I think it matters more that I make ART than whether the art matters, if you know what I mean.” Absolutely, Rayna! Making art is what really matters in the end. In the making of art, I become more fully who I am; I express more fully what I believe; I live more fully by the very act of creating – even if I don’t have a conscious message or a purpose or a mission to share through my acts of creating. Creating brings me joy – and that’s good enough for me!

So Laura, Lisa and Rayna, thank you for your thought-provoking entries. And now I’m going back to my Bernina and my latest hand-painted cheese-cloth and commercial batik ‘art’ in the making!


kirsty said...

Hi Pat
First time at your blog. Love the beautiful photos esp. the super duper closeups of the flowers. Just beautiful.

Karoda said...

Hi Pat, this entry reaffirms my stance that blogging is more about one's relation to the written word into thoughts and one's need to document me them for self and then connecting with others. Blogging is a monologue and a dialogue and the computer/internet is just another tool to make that happen. Reading blogs has made me more aware of wanting and needing to connect with other fiber/visual artists here in my own community than ever before.

Pat's Place said...

Thank you both for your comments. Maybe I'll blog my response to karoda... this is such a thought-provoking topic to me at this time.

Ted Orland said...

Hi Pat,
A month after your posting, I belatedly stumbled across your blog entry about "The View" today. Your response to Rayna's comments make perfect sense to me -- in fact they shine some light on a whole run of issues worth exploring. Thanks for sharing your insights!

Pat's Place said...

Hi, Ted -
I'm glad you found my thoughts on "meaningful art" opening new areas for exploration.
Perhaps the artist is the only one who can determine whether or not he/she must make 'meaningful' art. For myself, I only need to make art - I need to play in the studio with all my fun tools and toys. In so doing, art is created, my spirit soars (or plummets, depending on several factors), and a message from my internal self moves into concrete reality. I seldom recognize the messages until later when detachment allows me different perspectives than that of the artist.
I must play in the studio if I wish to create art. Just as soon as it becomes 'work,' it becomes static, dull, and contrived. It is in the playful revelations wherein I find a way to express the previously unexpressed...