Friday, June 29, 2012

Fucking Love Letterpress...
Letterpress card found on etsy

In the Greek language, there are four major words for 'love':  Agape, Eros, Philia, and Storge.  When looking up the phrase 'types of love' on the internet, a whole host of religious websites immediately pop up to tell you all about this subject matter.  I mentioned this to a dear friend of mine, one who has most recently become an ordained UU minister, and she told me that religion is one of the few fields of study in which 'love' is discussed as a subject matter in its own right.  I'm not sure that I can agree, thinking about the literary and artistic movements that have been developed in order to broach the nature and philosophy of love, but her comments do make me wonder.  

That very evening, I read this post on Mighty Girl, and I was struck by the writer's ability to verbalize her process in such a tender and clear way.  I don't think that 'love' should be delegated to a field of study, nor do I think it already is being delegated.  But I do think that the majority of us have no context with which to discuss these matters outside of our comparison to the 'love' found on screen, or in print, or within a form of worship.  Our language is simply not adequate enough for something that connects ourselves with a variety of other selves.  Four, or even four hundred, words are not enough. With an issue so tender, it's frightening how many choices are made, both by and for us, that are self-defining and life-altering.  It's amazing how often we are able to recognize our own sense of love in connection with another being, or activity, or object.  I am struck by this incredible gift that we have yet to fully understand, and am overjoyed that we might never have the right words to express this one emotion.  This, to me, is the purest form of creativity, and the one that we seek to recreate in our mastery of our chosen mediums.

Friday, June 22, 2012

stay golden

Through a series of completely amazing and unexpected events, I found myself traveling across Japan this last October.  I hadn't exactly put it on my list of must-see countries, but I never object to seeing any place that I haven't already spent much time. So there I was, on Halloween day, excited to find myself embarking on a very special "work" trip to visit communities of artists with developmental disabilities.

During our travels, we toured a small program hosting an art exhibition for those who lived onsite.  Amongst the abstract charcoal prints and brightly colored pastel animal portraiture, I found a long white banner with Kanji written in dark, feathery brushstrokes.  When I first saw the banner, I was so taken by the music of those brushstrokes that I instinctively had to own it.  I wanted to absorb that free-form sensuousness into my daily living.  I wanted to sit inside of it for a broad expanse of time.  The very kind and thoughtful man who was giving us our tour laughed softly and told me that, actually, I couldn't own the banner because it belonged to their program.  It was, in fact, their motto.  Roughly translated, the phrase was simple:  "Find identity, join society."    
Months later, I continue to be touched by this phrase and think of it often throughout each week.  So simple, so basic, and yet, such a complex and, at times, extremely difficult accomplishment.  How many of us struggle with just those basic fundamental concerns?  All those existential questions regarding purpose and desire, all those socially awkward moments and feelings of inadequacy and regret, culminating into a pure dichotomous philosophy that seeks to enrich all of us (regardless of shape, size, ability, and limitation).  Thinking about this solidifies that the duality of self and community can exist so readily, and yet, must be a conscious and daily act.  One that is supported by every branch of life, including art, work, family, and self.

 Note:  For any who are interested, the program is called Yayoien and you can find them here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

#11:  Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it.  If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you'll never share it with anyone.

Emma Coats, a storyboard artist for Pixar, has been compiling a series of tweets that serve as style guidelines.  They are listed on this site under the name "Pixar story rules (one version)".  I will probably have them all tattooed on my forearm for easy reference.

 I was wandering through the streets of the internet when I came across a teaser for the above blog post.  I'm always looking for motivation to stay consistent with my writing, and so any kind of structured framework grabs my attention.  Will it work?  Usually only until the novelty wears off.  But when I read through this list of 'rules', I kept thinking about how well they applied to life in general.  With a little fine tuning, these storyboard guidelines read as a style guide for living.  Some are a bit redundant, but others inadvertently jump out and shake loose the fundamental lessons they were meant to impart.  In so doing, they reveal a glimpse of the greater conversation between creation and action. 


Friday, June 8, 2012

When Challenged

all images ©Nina Katchadourian

 In her show, Seat Assignment:  Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style, artist Nina Katchadourian takes advantage of available materials, a hand-held camera phone, and the time afforded by long 14-hour international flights that have the rest of us watching back to back romantic comedies and reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm.  

In the catalog essay for her 2011 exhibit at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Katchadourian asks the creative questions that inspired her to create this spontaneous, yet thoughtful, collection:

"I often make art motivated by the mundane, but Seat Assignment has become a vehicle for me to put many of my deeply-held premises to the test. Is there always more than meets the eye? Is there really something to make out of nothing? Is it truly a matter of paying attention, of staying alert and optimistic about the potential that something interesting could evolve when challenged by boredom? Furthermore, what are the limits of my ability to think on my feet (or from my seat)? When will my creativity hit a wall, either from physical and mental fatigue, or simply because I can't care any more at that moment? How far will my own sense of decorum allow me to go in a public situation?"

 Nina created a large part of her exhibit while en route to the gallery, a feat that I find to be incredibly inspiring for my own experiences with catching creativity in the briefest of moments throughout the week.  I'm carrying this around in my head as a reminder that the artistic process exists in every aspect of our day, not just the ones that we intentionally dedicate to creation.  For me, It's so helpful to be reminded that creativity requires one to stay awake, both metaphorically and literally.  Like any relationship, we build our creative processes on the foundation of a thousand tiny gestures, not the occasional grand overture.

You can see more of Nina's work on her website.