I've spent a lot of time over the past month or so planning and plotting new work. I came to my senses over the summer and developed a "who cares?" attitude when it comes to my work. I've been so stressed about trying to out-do myself that it has crippled me artistically and I have produced almost no work since I graduated 3 years ago. I decided that it doesn't matter how good it is, what matters is that I'm making, so I'm just going to start taking my ideas and running with them.
I've been playing with bird imagery in my mind for a while now. To me, birds represent a new level of freedom that I haven't been able to experience and are a reflection of a migratory nature. That urge to migrate and move, in whatever direction that may be, is currently strong in my mind, and I want to start conveying that in my work. I don't feel like I belong anywhere, and if I do, then I haven't found that place. Home doesn't feel like home.
In terms of specific birds, I like duality of a magpie. They are black and white, which I feel relates to my dueling personalities. I feel like I live two lives: the me that shows up to work every day and tries to come across as confident and put together, and the secret me, that is totally not. Having to live behind what I feel is a mask everyday is overwhelming and takes a toll emotionally.
How I am going to convey all of this in my work is still in process.
What I do know is that I want to go back to some of the things that I was doing when I first started in textiles, like collage and hand embroidery, and combining it with some of the things I was last doing, such as playing with transparency and watercolors. So here's a breakdown of what I'm working with:
I've been looking at a lot of images of historic quilts and Korean pojagi as inspiration.
The first piece that I want to do builds off of traditional flying geese quilts using, hopefully, a pojagi style technique. I have some sketches started and I am in the process of making patterns for my blocks because I want them to be all slightly different. Over the course of the next two weeks, I want to finish those patterns and create a couple samples of different sewing techniques.
My mother pulled out the first thing I ever sewed on a sewing machine the other day asking me to stretch it or frame it so that she can hang it up in the house.
I actually created it for a final project in a painting survey in college. Looking at it now it is so bad, but it was so revolutionary for me at the time.
When I first started art school, I really wanted to be a painter, but I favored watercolors, and the painting faculty at the university kind of had an antipathy toward the medium. So, I decided I wanted to be a printmaker, which I quickly found out required me to spend too much time (and money) at the school. I liked to work from home, so it just wasn't a good fit.
Then, I took a textiles class and fell in love. I had always been fascinated by fashion design,fabric, and pattern creation, to the point where I toyed with the idea of being a costume designer. But, I didn't know how to sew. That survey class taught me how to sew by hand, but I still had limited abilities. There were so many cool things I saw other people doing: fabric manipulation, free motion stitching, and I couldn't do them. It was disheartening.
When I enrolled in the painting class, I was incredibly frustrated. I consider myself a decent painter, but nothing I did was ever good enough. The composition wasn't right. My use of the materials wasn't proficient enough. And it drove me nuts that the grad student teaching the class was really more of a mixed media artist than a painter. So I decided that for my final that was what I was going to do too. And since it was going to take me forever to do it by hand, I was going to learn how to use a sewing machine to do it.
So I bought one, and I sewed line after line after line. Then I bought a darning foot and sewed circle after circle after circle. Eventually, I had a collage of blueberries using acrylic, watercolor, organza, wax paper, and stitching. And amazingly, the teacher loved it.
Looking at it now, it is a completely terrible piece. The stitching is clearly amateur and I must have had tension problems I didn't know how to properly fix. But I did it, and it opened a bunch of doors for me.
The piece is spread out over one of my chairs in my living room, and I have to look at it all the time. Even though it isn't the greatest thing that I have ever made, I can't help but being inspired all over again.
I decided that I needed a fresh start.
If you've been following along, you may have noticed that I deleted all of my previous blog entries. Why? Well, I spent a lot of time over the summer thinking about life in general. I haven't done much of any thing in the way of new work since I left grad school, mostly because I haven't had the motivation to get things done. It's not that I've been lacking ideas. They've been there: a lot of them, but my will to create has been intermittent. And when it has been there, it has been crippled by fear.
Fear? Yes, that overwhelming sense that I am not good enough and will never be good enough. The sense that all of my ideas are garbage. The feeling that what people want to see is not what I have to offer them. The idea that handwork gets you no where in the end, you just have to be really lucky. I left grad school with a bang, or so I thought. And despite all the sketching and planning and sampling, in the back of mind I have been thinking that there is no point in going on. I can never do better.
And most recently, adding to that pile of insecurities is one little thing that my boyfriend mentioned to me quite a long time ago: that what I do reminds me too much of his mom (who quilts) and that isn't the most attractive thing in the world. Imagine, trying to find the will to go on when so much is expected of you, only to be told that the one thing you love to do more than anything else in this world is a real turnoff.
So I have struggled. And I have cried. And I have been mad at the world and the way it works. But mostly I've been disappointed in myself. Disappointed in my lack of motivation. Disappointed that I let fear overwhelm me. Disappointed that I have disappointed others.
So I had a frank talk with the aforementioned boyfriend about all of these things and he actually gave me good advice. First, that I'm awesome (which apparently I don't realize). Second, that he loves me no matter what and that regardless of whether both his mom and I like to sew, we are two different people and he's not going to stop me from doing what I love. And last, that artists don't just work until they create something great and then stop. They keep on creating. Some things may be pure garbage. Some things may also be great. And some things may be better than great, but they never stop.
And that's what I need to do. I can't keep defining myself by what I did in the past, I need to move forward and keep making. So I decided to take a deep breath, and start fresh, jot down all of my ideas and just start making. Some may be garbage. Some may be great. And some may be better than great, but in the end it is about the act of doing itself, not the product.
This new blog is a part of my fresh start. I am burying the past and starting a new future and I plan to document it here.