Friday, February 6, 2015

Art is an Intellectual Pursuit

Art doesn't come easy for me. If it has to do with writing, then it’s usually not a problem. I can undertake a project rather quickly and most of the time, my work will get a second or third pair of eyes looking over it. I like the system — I like immediate feedback. But more abstract art, like pulling together images, colors, and textiles — well, that just seems more complicated. Rather than using my words to try to convey an idea or a feeling, I am trying to achieve the same thing but with a physical representation of what’s going on in my mind. My writing is personal, but presenting an art project is personal on an entirely different level. Suddenly I am seeing white because I am so nervous, and I am not particularly sure I actually want any feedback.

Then it struck me — I really only ever create art when it's for a project. When I was in elementary school, I created for the sake of praise. I enjoyed my teachers gushing over what I could draw or how I could manipulate clay into intricate little sculptures. Later on, when I took an art class in high school, as a prerequisite for graduating, I was introduced to the world of collaging. It was a new way to conveying ideas with bits of cut out paper, doodles, and whatever else I could fit on the page. Composition was everything for my high school teacher. We had to balance the page, we could put whatever we wanted in our collage as long as there was a reason behind it. She questioned everything.

Why this cut-out word?
Why this brush stroke of color?
Why this image as opposed to that one?

Though this sounds like an oppressive environment, I think that it was under this teacher that I was really able to develop as an artist. I couldn’t just say I had a “feeling” or that I was following my “gut” — now I had to explain what that meant. It brought my two loves together, art and words.

Why this word? Because it’s what came to mind when I saw red.
Why this color? Because on this particular day I was feeling this particular color.
Why this image? Because that image spoke to me — and this is what it said.

Yes, art is definitely a feeling — if not a full-blown force of nature that we as mere mortals, cannot resist. And while there’s something wild, passionate, and consuming about following our instinct and creating for the sake of creating, I believe that art is first and foremost an intellectual pursuit that urges us to discover our humanity.

But I digress. What I really wanted to share today was a short conversation I had with The Shoppe manager over at Stampington & Company. Jennifer Taylor and I work closely on creative projects, product descriptions, and the composition of Creative Impulse and Post Script. I think we share some similar ideas when it comes to creating art. She mentioned that she had decided to challenge herself with creating one personal, artistic item every day until her birthday, sometime in April. When your main job is to produce creative content—be it writing or actual art projects, it’s easy to experience burnout and moreso to feel a little unattached with your work. As an artist, though I am still a little shy calling myself that, I think Jennifer’s idea is wonderful and I’ve decided to join her. My birthday is in a month, on March 9th, so the task seems somewhat manageable.

I don’t want to force anything. What I really want to do is push myself out of this weird place where I need perfect compositions. My creations will be made in the early hours of the morning, when it’s still misty and magical outside. I’ll give myself half an hour at most. I won’t share everything, but I’ll try to share as much as I can. The point of this project, for me, is not to create masterpieces, but rather to play — to play with art supplies, to play with materials, and simply to experiment and let go of some of my anxiety and perfectionism. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why Write?

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary:

Definition of SYNESTHESIA
1: a concomitant sensation; especially: a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as a color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated
2: the condition marked by the experience of such sensations
— syn-es-thet-ic an adjective

New Latin, from syn- + -esthesia (as in anesthesia)
First Known Use: circa 1891

Medical Definition of SYNESTHESIA
: a concomitant sensation and especially a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as a color) other than the one (as of a sound) being stimulated; also : the condition marked by the experience of such a sensation

syn-es-the-sia or chiefly British syn-aes-the-sia

Definition of SYNESTHETE
: a person affected with synesthesia

First Known Use of SYNESTHETE

Medical Definition of SYNESTHETE

: one who experiences synesthesia <for a synesthete, a voice can spark a color or a taste as well as a sound—Psychology Today>

I agonized about what my first post would be. This blog was created in late October of 2014, and it remained unused but certainly not abandoned. It was in the back of my head — a literal pull against my scalp, right above the base of my neck. It was with me constantly, whenever I saw something or felt something that I wanted to share. But there were obstacles in my path, most notable of which was an incessant sense of propriety. 

Doesn't a blog have to have some sort of theme? Doesn't it provide its readers with something more than just the musings of its writer? What then, do I have to offer? Who would want to read about what I feel, what I see, and what I think?

These were the questions that ate me up and prevented me from writing anything. These questions have not been completely answered, nor has the anxiety they cause been put to rest. But everything was pushed to the forefront, ready-or-not, when I article I wrote was selected to be published in the third installment of Bella Grace. The opportunity to not only have my words published and shared, but also to share a link to my blog — empty as it was — could not be passed up. 

I still managed to postpone the inevitable, even after setting a deadline for myself — which was that I would begin to write in January. My article was selected back in December of 2014, and I knew the magazine would be released in March of 2015. It was my very own New Year's resolution. Then, after writing a blog post for Stampington & Company all about Artful Resolutions, I felt the full weight of my forced endeavors, and I let them go.

Art, which I consider writing to be, should not be forced and it most certainly should not be given a deadline. It was presumptuous of me to assume that I could make myself write — much less, write something worth reading, when my mind, heart, and soul were not in the same place. Oddly enough, it was the sudden onset of the early  morning fog, which arrived late this winter, that finally ended my writer's block.

Waking up to write early in the morning so that I could see the wisps of fog blurring the sharp edges of the trees outside the window is what my soul was craving for longer than I care to admit. There are hills out there, beyond the rectangle window besides my desk, but they're hidden behind a blanket of white. The fog makes the world smaller, but it also fills it with endless possibility. These white days, these morning writing sessions, they focus my attention on what I can see and they make me wonder about what I can't. 

Like I said in my article for Bella Grace

"There's a divinity to each and every one of us that often gets pushed aside or flat out ignored. We're so hung up on the exterior, that we can't even see the value of our perspective. There is no one like you — your experience of the world is wholly unique."

Somehow, although I wrote the words, I hadn't fully applied them to myself.

I have a story to tell. It doesn't have a beginning that I can remember, and it doesn't have an end that I can foretell. It's the story of my perception of this magnificent world. It's the secrets that I've kept for a long time, like the fact that when I am happy — truly happy — there's a sudden burst of crisp, orange flavor that spreads across my tongue. Or when I feel deep emotional distress, my mind fills with searing white, and when I smell the exhaust fumes of a diesel fueled vehicle, I see green. I want to share the strange associations that my brain makes at the sound of names, and the fact that when I hear or see the number nine — I get a little giddy.

For a long time, I thought these associations were normal and common. When I realized they weren't I had an existential crisis. It was such an isolating feeling to know that my perception of the world was unique. How could I ever share, really share, my experiences when most people probably wouldn't be able to even understand the associations that my brain makes with colors, sounds, and tastes? The world is so beautiful, but I felt like I was in it alone.

It was liberating to finally reach that place of understanding and appreciation, when I comprehend that I wasn't the only different one — that in fact, everyone in the whole world is alone inside their own heads. This is what makes every perception so precious to me, and ultimately what has pushed me to start my blog. From literature to poetry, and painting to assemblage art, I see the world in a way that no one before me has seen it. That, in and of itself, is enough of a reason to share my journey, and to hopefully reach out and connect with others who are sharing theirs.