In design class on Tuesday, we explored rhythm in visual art. When we were looking at art and sculpture in books, some of sort of "sang" the rhythm of the work: "Well, it looks like bah-bah-bah-dah-swhooww!" I have been looking the past two days, for rhythm...on the highway, at home, in the movement of my poodles dancing and kittens purring and in the soft melody of an understanding gaze of a friend during a time of discomfort. "Noticing rhythm..." commented our design instructor, "is a nice way to be in the world." Indeed, the world has a heartbeat, and songs to sing and wail, screech and slide. I want to hear that music, and I want to notice it, see it, and wonder about it as I create my own song and beat in this little corner of the world.
...We discussed today how "creating" is countercultural, because for artists, the process of creating work is as productive and informative and deepening as the final product. In our schools, we focus on product, the grade, the end of year test, the ability to advance to the next grade level--the end performance is key. But, in making art, the "works" are the guide (Art and Fear). "The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work" (Art and Fear, p. 26). IF this is true, as a beginning potter, I need to get busy and do some work, because I have much to learn. So, I am off, to get busy, learn some lessons, and be countercultural.
Today, I elected not to travel to class, which in essence, is a three hour commute both ways. This was a hard choice for me, but one I needed to make. It seems like there will be an issue about gas supply in the Southeast, due to Hurricane Katrina, and since I have made the trip three times this week, I felt like I might should do my part to lessen the impact of my ecological footprint--which is already three times the size it should be. Sigh. Selfishly, I wonder what impact this energy situation will make on my ability to learn about clay and design. I worry, and then I feel guilty because the suffering from this disaster is catastrophic, wrenching, and devastating. It is stunning and breaking. And, even though I know that we need to continue to live the regularity of our daily lives as we usually do, in spite of feeling 'survivor guilt', this is a conundrum. We need to live the dailiness with awareness, thoughtfulness, compassion and generousity. But, there is more for me. I wonder, how does action, solidarity, justice, connect with making art? Especially when one is a middle aged part-time student, and nearly full time professional? Is it frivolous to want to burn a quarter tank of gasoline so that I can learn to throw two pounds of clay into 6"-8" high cylinders, over and over and over--with no clear direction or goal of the outcome? The materials of art, according to the book, Art and Fear, are seductive. The tooth of good paper, the glide of an delicious pastel, the bristles of the perfect brush. Clay, for me, is seductive. It calls to me, flirts with me, sings sonnets that circle in my head and heart, beckoning my hands to dig deep, practise, learn, create. Justice and mercy, practice and seduction. This is the tension I hold in my body today.
In design class, we have to do collage sketches on certain concepts. This week we explored "balance." Sketches. Not works of art. Sketches--nothing special, just a way to learn the concepts with our hands and a material. This has been hard for me, choosing shapes, colors, thinking about composition...and then someone in class said, about her own process, how she told herself, "don't get precious with it." Meaning, don't worry yourself over this, don't get overly involved in this, just do it....I love this phrasing, and I am trying to use it as my mantra as I learn to turn clay, to practise with construction paper, and any number of things in life. This is practise, like piano scales. Don't get precious with the things that aren't precious.