Sunday Thoughts

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between my friends who had art education and me is their ability to look at art analytically. My reaction tends to be a) like/dislike, and b) why I feel so, justifying my reaction. I'm constantly amazed at friends noticing the repetition of lines/shapes/colors throughout a painting, or patterns or contrasts or whatever. Their judgment as to whether they like a work is more considered, whereas mine mere reaction, a gut feeling. I'm not saying one is good and the other bad, but learning to see artworks analytically might increase my appreciation of art, and improve my making.

So, art education, besides techniques, knowledge/understanding of materials, and historical narrative, must equip students with analytical overemotional skills. I just thought art students had loads of fun making things, while Philosophy majors read boring but inconsequential ancient texts.

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When I listen to artists talk about their creative processes, many of them are "constructive" in that they experiment different methods and materials that best enable them to create works that best express... whatever it is they want to express.

I often see what I want to make and I backtrack and figure out the best material and create a draft. Because my technique is always loom weaving, sampling is about the only experiments I do. I feel my approach is more "reductive". I wonder if this limits the scope of my work, even though it's convenient and fast. And when it would be more prudent to experiment more.

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The way I understand conceptual art work, in a characteristically blunt, simplistic way, is thus:

a) It has to have a back story, i.e. what you see is most probably not what you get,
b) It cannot be utilitarian, but
c) It can be ugly, or even disturbing, depending on what you claim to be expressing.

And many conceptual work I've seen have been less than pretty.

I mentioned ideas are dancing to their own tunes inside my head. One of the idea seems to be to make something symbolizing "an invisible middle-aged woman". I have some ideas as to how I could show her, but again, I've only matched what I have in terms of accessible material and skills, and tried to fit the "desired outcome" with a selected track (??). And that feels un-artist-y.

The bigger problem for me is this; I question if I want to spend the time, energy, and let's be honest, money to make something to express an idea that's not exactly pretty. I'm tempted to say no, because I don't have a burning desire to make a symbol of "invisible middle-aged woman", I don't have to see it, because I'm living it. Would I not be better off making more pretty things to sell? But there are too few weaving exhibitions, and if I don't try to participate in textile/fiber art exhibitions, I would restrict the chances for my "weaving" to be seen.

I think this is proof I'm temperamentally more of a weaver/craftsperson than an artist. I don't have an overwhelming desire to express an idea with my craft, but to create beautiful/pretty things.

Tomorrow, I'm getting a high-powered brain-storming help. I'm bringing Ben, (he has two weeks off,) along as the rememberer because I get too excited in the discussion itself that I forget things, even though I take notes. It feels like a mini Day of Reckoning.


Cate Rose said...

This is a great post, Meg, thanks for it. In its own way, it echoes what I wrote recently about finding my creative voice.

Also, I tend to have a more gut reaction to art, as you do. Then I backpeddle and take a closer look. Actually, to many things in life that are offered up to me in one way or another, I characteristically say No first, then think about it and then often get to the Yes. Saying "No" seems to buy me time to deliberate about whatever it is.

You've probably heard me say this before, but one reason I gave up weaving was because it seemed so restrictive of what my soul longed to do -- particularly with my 8 shaft loom. I knew I could never, ever afford a Jacquard loom to enable me to do much looser work, design wise. And I felt that the artistry was primarily in one's mechanical competence with the equipment, tools, drafts, yarns, etc. For me, it didn't leave much room to experiment and I got bored after just a few years.

Not that you should give up weaving, I'm not advocating that, because IMO your work is awesome. But there are inherent limitations in it, and perhaps that's what you're coming to realize.

Meg said...

Connie's post: http://constancerosedesigns.blogspot.com/2009/11/on-visions-and-magic.html

Leni Wiener's post: http://blog.leniwiener.com/?p=475 (Might I add, I once dated a Wiener, and he said it should be pronounced VEEner, as in someone from Vienna, but WEEner would do.)

My first response/reaction is I don't have a voice or a story to tell, but I want to make beautiful/pretty things. Because my reaction to art is a "reaction", I aim for a primal, gut reaction, something that makes someone want to reach out and touch it, or want to let out a sigh because it's so beautiful. If they do make up a story to go along with it, well, that's fine by me.

My second response is on the one hand, the techniques of weaving is restricting, and that's why I've always liked weaving. But the flip side is I haven't thought enough, experimented enough, nor played enough with known techniques let along try to come up with new ways to say, just yet, whether weaving is restricting me.

But that's just my reaction/immediate response. I'll have more words, no doubt, by the end of the day about this!

Meg said...

"I want to weave texturally and visually luxurious cloth." Is that my voice, whatever luxurious means?

I'm remembering a forum I went to recently on public art and sculptures. http://megweaves.blogspot.com/2009/10/second-half-of-bens-holiday.html

A marketing man mentioned "art telling a story", and Christchurch sculptor Andrew Drummond jumped in and said art doesn't have to tell a story, it doesn't have to be a "badge", but can be as as it is. I'm so with Andrew this morning.