It is not the subject that makes art religious or sacrilegious, but the impulse behind it. You sometimes get an artist who is spoken through despite his own professed atheism, because it's the creative impulse to look at the seeming chaos of the universe and then to express this chaos in terms of pattern and of order and of love and -- perhaps most important of all -- joy.
"From Chaos to Pattern", from Madeleine L'Engle: Herself, Reflections on a Writing Life -- compiled by Carole F. Chase, Shaw Books, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2001.
Now...I'm not an atheist (as anyone who's read this blog for some time has undoubtedly realized!)...so it's not really the first part of this reflection that captured my attention, but the last part: the part about "the creative impulse...to express...chaos in terms of pattern and of order and of love and -- perhaps most important of all -- joy."
Since I began my art practice in a serious way, I've sensed a tension between those whose creative impulse seems to express chaos...well...in terms of pattern and order...but also of fear, anger, darkness and a distinct lack of joy -- and those who include in their expression of chaos that love and joy, and...a certain light and hope. Sometimes, yes, the former is needed to jolt viewers out of their determined complacency in the face of such chaos. To make a point. To inspire action. And often times, putting those expressions "out there", sharing them with the world, can heal and restore peace and order within those creators.
But I believe that too much of it can lead to a diminished ability to see hope and light in the chaos around us. Joy can become eroded and may even be belittled as naive and unsophisticated, in favour of cynicism and pessimism.
My 'statement' pieces and participation in such projects as Threads of Resistance and the Social Justice Sewing Academy have come about because I felt compelled by the issues at hand -- and I've learned a great deal from those experiences, from making that work.
But I can't live there. I cannot dwell in the realm of despair, righteous anger, ongoing fear and anxiety. Even as I resist the dull, grey wintry days with injections of "those little birds", I resist the temptation to be drawn into a permanent home in the sturm und drang of current events...
And so I find myself returning to colourful piecing and to making more of those little canvases of which I am becoming particularly fond.
Here's my latest offering...finished on Monday of this week...the first in my "Inspired by Scotland" series. (And yes, it will be put in a 'floater' frame...like this one.)
|Highland Hills I - (C) 2017|
5" W x 7" L (unframed)
Mixed media on stretched canvas:
acrylic paint, wool, wool roving
Needle-felted, machine quilted
The fun of this came at the end when I actually followed a "what if...?" to its conclusion (instead of ignoring it or dismissing it as silly or impractical)...
|Side view -- see the clouds of roving?|
|Another close-up of those misty hills ;-)|
There will be more of these -- and some in other sizes (though not, I expect, larger than 12" x 12"). But these take time. Despite the myriad of photos from my trip and the ideas swirling about within me like those misty clouds swirling on those hills, the ideas take a while to coalesce, a while for me to figure out how I want to express the loveliness, the light and the joy of being in a beautiful landscape -- whether it is in a far-off land or outside my own back door.
So, Gentle Readers, I leave you with my answer to Nina Marie's question this week, even as I'm linking up with her Off the Wall Friday. She's written about 'creativity exercises' and wondered aloud what sort of 'calisthenics' her readers might practice when feeling 'creatively challenged'.
My challenge, creatively, is of having too many ideas pulling at me all at once, without a clear way to sort them and get them out into the world. My 'creative calisthenics' in this in this case is more akin to stretching, rather than jumping jacks! As I mentioned in my last post, when I find myself 'tectchy' and at loose ends, in between specific projects, or 'coming down' from a major project (like this), I often turn to piecing and/or fabric cutting, or re-organizing my sewdio. Creating order and pattern out of the chaos of fabric and scraps enables me to bring order to the swirling thoughts in my mind while bringing colour, light and joy to my world.
May your weekend be full of that same colour, light, love and joy.