Friday, October 26, 2007
(Above: About sixty Christmas ornaments!)
Ever since I finished the work for my exhibition at Francis Marion University, I've been in a strange sort of "funk". I am thrilled to be working toward another solo show with Blues Chapel, but I was looking for a new approach, a new body of work, something "significant"....something I still can't quite define and haven't found.
I tried a systematic approach...make backgrounds for a month. While I created many things with which I am pleased, it didn't solve my problem. I never found the "new body of work" in which to immerse myself. I tried working with my new embellisher...thinking that the machine would trigger something novel. Again, pleasant parts and no whole. Basically, I've been trying to "force" a new series into existence instead of quietly working until it reveals itself in the stitches.
I've also been struggling mentally. There are so many techniques to be attempted. It's overwhelming...and then, I spiral downward into thinking that my work isn't "good enough". I see all these great possibilities and I think, "Susan, you're light years behind". I'm so tempted to try everything....hoping the in these new techniques is some magical answer to the new work I think I'm destined to make.
When I got back from London, I had my hand stitching...my Elements in Blue. I have several waiting to be stitched; but, I do my hand stitching in the evenings...at home. What was I going to do in my studio? I didn't have anything going...generally, there's at least three projects in various stages on which to work.
One recent comment really triggered my thoughts (in a very good way!). It got me asking myself, "How are all the visual "treats" seen in London going to influence my work, even subtly?" I really don't know.
Yet, this last trip was honestly the first time I looked at quality fiber art and didn't immediately want to "try this" or "copy that idea" or think "I could do that". I just looked. Hopefully, this is a good sign. At least, I'm taking it that way. I am hoping that the experience will influence me with conviction...to follow my own path, do my own thing...even if what I'm making really is "bad" because the PROCESS of making art is what is important to me. The thing I'm looking for is "vision", a concept, a way in which to relate something about me and/or my life through fibers with needle and thread. All the wonderful work I saw in London was done by people doing just this...communicating.
So, went I got into my studio I picked up a really ugly piece of felt onto which I'd embellished some dreadful yarns and snippets of other felt...all in blue...with the idea to use it as a background for some unspecified piece for the Blues Chapel exhibit. I just embellished...letting the barbed needles purr through the material. I was worrying about Alex (grade cards are due on Halloween) when a hair brained idea struck...cut this into circles...then make Christmas ornaments.
(Above: Ornaments of Tree of Blues)
As I worked, I remembered that I volunteered to create a Christmas tree for a charity event that benefits the local Children's Hospital. I even bought a pile of blue trimmings two years ago...for Alex's tree (yes, he donates too...I pay for the "stuff"). We didn't use the blue ornaments or the artificial white tree last year. Instead, Alex used about 200 old men's neck ties and made "A Gift for Dad" Tree. Somehow, making this year's tree revolve around Blues Chapel just happened. Now, this project (which could easily have become some anchor weighing me down as the deadline approached) is all but done. (Alex is making a "table top" tree on his own.)
Next, some of the "backgrounds" just NEEDED to be made into ornaments...merchandise! The best thing that just "happened", however, was that the scraps of blue cut aways turned into an embellished piece, The Blues. If all this isn't serendipity, I don't know what is. Once I stopped trying so hard, things fell into place. Okay, I still don't have some great "master plan" and I don't have the slightest idea what I want to "say" with my stitches...but it will come. I have faith...and some nice ornaments to sell in the meantime!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 10:09 AM