It's been on of THOSE weeks, in the middle of one of THOSE months, just after one of THOSE semesters at my college. You know what I mean?
When there's too much going on, too much to think about, and too many deadlines, I tend to do some really stupid things. Like forget about the importance of rhythm, ritual, and rest. No, actually, that's not quite accurate. As bad as that would be I do something far worse- I begin to actively seek ways to deny myself rhythm, ritual and rest! Too much to do? I'll find ways to waste time. Too many deadlines? I'll find other things that aren't urgent and make them urgent? Too much to think about? I'll obsess about one thing, usually something completely out of my control.
Is it just me?
There is a kind of knowledge I have- a knowledge accumulated in my body, that tells me this kind of chaos, this weird reliance on the anxiety and adrenaline of urgency is dehumanizing. It is probably killing me. It is probably killing all of us. It tells me that what I need is not more time (which is what I think) to be less busy, to make room for moments of stillness, for slowness, for contemplation. I need to "do" less. And that those moments have to be set into a daily/weekly/monthly calendar and that they are not just a priority, they are non-negotiable.
Part of that time for me is related to my studio practice. I am trying to find ways of creating that call for slowing down, both as a maker and as a viewer. That also means following a lot of "rabbit trails" that may not lead anywhere, and not just being ok with that, but celebrating it.
So for now I am painting. And thinking. And thinking about painting. It is both everything and nothing. And it feels right. Later I will work on something more "important," or something more in my discipline; something that promotes my career, adds to the dialog. And I will do it because I will want to, because it feels right, the right time. Maybe even it will be informed by these little feeble paintings. Or not. Who can say? I guess I'm trying to tell myself that isn't really the point. Does art have a point? Does it have to have a point? Is it pointless? Is it's pointlessness the thing that makes it of such great value?
I wish I could say this self-taught lesson will stick with me, but it probably won't. Perhaps it sticks a little better each time. Maybe that's enough.
(This is a repost from my old blog in which I talked about a series of works I made for the Epiphany season back in 2011. The works went together to form a kind of book which was displayed for the season at my church, AllSouls in Wheaton. For images of the rest of the work and a link to the rest of the articles go to my archives page and look for Epiphany Book.)
For the opening pages of the book, I used resin and gold leaf. I discovered that frankincense and myrrh are both tree resins, so my choice of materials are meant to recall the gifts of the Magi.
The images are are created from two crossword puzzles, the initial one the first one ever published in the New York Times, the second one from the December 26th, 2010 issue, or the first Sunday in Christmas for this liturgical year. Crossword puzzles are, to me, a good metaphor for the idea of manifestation. The words are, in a sense, there to be made manifest. You just have to put in the work.
the studio chair
A place for me to ramble on when I need to take a break.