Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clay: A kinesthetic Medium

After my initial experiences with clay, I continued to developed my skills by taking several terms of ceramics focusing on hand-building. I took the hand-building version of ceramics for two reasons. First, I didn't feel my vision would allow me to work with the potter's wheel without taxing my brain power and causing me to become quickly fatigued. Secondly, I was really more interested in what had previously happened when working with clay without a particular intention.

My first ceramic class, however, required that I work to achieve certain skills. In doing so, some of my first ceramic pieces included:


Beyond this skill building class, I was encouraged to work and experiment in almost any way that I chose. So, I went back to the rewarding experiences of seeing what would form in the clay as I worked with it, rather than planning to make a particular object or product. With this perspective in mind, the following pieces were created:
Being Held

Hearts At Rest

Most of these unplanned pieces continued as an extension of the sculptural piece I called "Sensory Communication" (see previous blog entry). That is, they contained a sense of both a male and a female form in relationship to each other. From the perspective of the past, I saw these sculptures as representations of the emotions I was currently feeling with a particular person. From my present perspective, however, I also see parts of myself that had not fully been nurtured and that the person involved was helping me to begin seeing those parts of myself and what was needed by those parts.

The only piece here that does not follow this pattern is the pot that formed into the pregnant belly of a woman. Since I am not a mother, hadn't had any particular desire for children, and was reaching an age considered risky for childbirth, I was a bit perplexed by this piece and yet it seemed to follow the energy being expressed by the other pieces. My interpretation at the time is mostly lost to me now, but I did wonder about the possibility of a physical manifestation, which never appeared. I can, however, note a time early in 2007 when, for the first time in my life, I began to sense that I had the ability and the willingness take on the responsibilities of being a mother without feeling overwhelmed. 

Today, I see this pot as a predictor of things to come. Things that were necessary to come. That is, we all need to give birth to life. Obviously, not all of us do or are equipped to give birth physically. Instead, many us give birth to and nurture our own creative ideas that we wish to offer as our contribute to our community and to the world that we live in. For me, that creativity, that giving birth, begins with understanding the realms of sensory input, emotion, mental processing, energy, and art making. My birthing then continues by mapping these understandings back to chronic medical conditions such as fatigue, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. This will be my way of giving birth to my baby, the one I choose to nurture, to care for, and to adore within this world.

By using clay in this unplanned fashion, I have personally discovered the kinesthetic properties of clay that allow emotional and often unconscious material to take physical form. As the hands work with the clay, information is passed from the brain through our motor functions and our emotions. The sensation of touching the clay then enables and creates a translation of that information. A translation that holds valuable information about our lives with respect to where we are presently and where we are about to journey.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sculptures Begin to Yield Interesting Information

The next sculpture class I took  (Fall 2006) largely involved the use of clay, some plaster, the creation of a plaster mold, and an experimental piece. Within my first clay sculptures, I was again intrigued by what would appear before my eyes as I worked without a particular intention. I just played, experimented, and allowed whatever wanted to appear without having any particular attachment to the product I was creating. I really enjoyed my own process, but my instructor really tried to encourage me to make a plan. I resisted her encouragement and was only willing to do the very minimum of what was required with regard to planning out my creations.

My first clay sculptures that were created without intention included:

Flower - Clay
Duck - Clay
I went on to produce the more planned sculptures of:

Blooming Heart - Plaster
Based on Photo of my Cat in a Ditch - Clay Relief

My Neighbor's Dog

Creating and playing with molds, I formed a woman laying on a rock, which I used separately and within a sculpture. The sculpture ended having aspects that were planned and unplanned.

The Mold
Porcelain Slip Case from Mold
Clay from Mold
Sculpture Using Mold

Lastly, I created a piece from rabbit wire and tile mastic. As I formed this final piece with the wire, I again allowed the wire to take the lead rather than trying to form it in a particular way. When I did this, the form that seemed to appear was the outer shape of a man and a woman, which would become a consistent theme in other pieces to come.

Sensory Communication

As I write this blog entry and look back on past work, I am particularly aware of what was happening within me at the time, parts of which I was able to verbalize and other parts that were not yet clear to me. For instance, I remember the "Flower" representing the layers of me that were being pealed off to allow other parts to bloom. But, the "Blooming Heart" is a piece that I just renamed from "Plaster Flower", indicating a new understanding in this piece that my heart was also opening and beginning to bloom. "Sensory Communication" was also renamed from "Mastic Bodies". I always understood that this piece came to illustrate passion and communication through the senses rather than the brain, but could never think of a satisfying name for it.

Reflecting further on these observations, I now see more than I had originally realized. I had believed the openings represented in these pieces were merely exemplifications of the current changes in my circumstances, which desired a move away from systems analysis and into the world of art. However, I can now see them as much more. I can see parts of myself breaching the layers that had long covered them up and my readiness to begin expressing my heart in ways that I had never done before.

Thus, although I was in the middle of neurological difficulties, something seemed to be arising as a change for the better. But what had caused this change in me? Probably not my physical difficulties. No. But I do attribute this change to the alternative care processes that I was involved in. Because, it was within these processes that I began to really feel heard and understood more than I ever had before. So, it was from this base of support that I feel I was becoming ready to allow an expression of myself to form in the outer, rather than inner, world.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Sculpture Class (Spring 2006)

Since the process of drawing wasn't as fun as I though it would be, I decided to take sculpture as my second college level art class. This class allowed for a lot of construction and creativity, which was very enjoyable and thought provoking. It was here that I would first encounter what could happen somewhere between a pile of found objects and a final piece of artwork put together without a particular intention. In fact, that is the process that created this piece: 

Assemblage of Found Objects - No Intention
Other sculptures from this class also included:

Cardboard - Rectangles/Right Angles
More Cardboard
Cardboard Continued
Found and Constructed Objects
Final - Family Heritage (Women)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bringing art back into my life (2004)

As a young child, I really enjoyed art and music. I remember engaging in craft activities at the local park across the street from our house, attempting to play the violin and the clarinet, singing in the school choir, and taking an art class in junior high. I didn't become an accomplished instrument player, but I loved the harmony of choir and being able to pick out the middle notes within a piece of music. I also enjoyed the process of making art, but as many other people have experienced I had an art teacher who was looking for a particular type of artistic ability and was not appreciative of the one I presented.

Although I loved these activities, I was given no encouragement to continue them in my adult life and I had also been given a sense that my abilities weren't "good enough" to develop further anyway. Thus, I discontinued these practices for many years. Instead, my creative energies went into activities such as computer programming, systems analysis, and home remodeling and landscaping.

As a systems analyst, I was fairly satisfied with the work I did and the money that it brought to me. But when my mentor at work became ill with cancer and carried his chemotherapy pack with him in determination to continue working, I realized the how much passion this man had for his work and how little I had in mine.

So, I coupled this realization with a recent interest in mosaics and began to make plans for a career change. I wanted to become an artist. But, these plans would be delayed and then evolve as I started to experience neurological dysfunction.

Still, I did complete a mosaic sign for our home: 

After doing so, I also had a request to make the following mosaic, which I was paid for:

The Parthenon
In creating these mosaics, I found a conflict within myself between wanting to create art and allowing myself to spend time doing so. Although my husband and I had created a space for me to work and I had the time to work on them, I really had to push myself to actually get started. This is a conflict that continues within me today. But, I have found this is a conflict that other accomplished artists also struggle with. A struggle that also seems to be paired with the anxiety about producing a "good enough" art form.