Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ekphrastic Poetry for Art History

Composed Early 2015: 

We have been assigned to write poems based on a modern work of art that is a part of the Toledo Museum of Arts Permanent Collection. My group is presenting on "Rainy Day, Boston" 1885 by Childe Hassam. I believe I've seen his work before but his name was not etched in my memory, until now. As part of the assignment, we are required to do do a lot of research about the artist. The book that I'm currently reading is so delightful and has many quotations of the artist. My favorite so far is this:
Progress in art as in life is by very gradual steps. It is well for us that we cannot look ahead and realize at the outset the final goal. We would not be strong enough spiritually to stand this vision, good or bad. It would make us untrue to our ideals and cause us to fall short of our best (408-409).
As my undergraduate journey comes to a close thinking of my future in fine arts can be quite intimidating. I don't want to let myself down. I know I have the potential to do great things but not knowing what they are going to be I don't always know where to start.


Today: 

Well I don't know what brought me to my blog today, especially since I haven't posted on here in years, and really wasn't the best at writing updates in the first place, but I found the draft of this blog post. It's interesting to me because I haven't actually really made anything in the last two years since I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, got married, and got a job. My intention was to have a part-time job that didn't consume much of my creative energy and left me feeling energized so I could continue to make work from my home studio.  My goal was to make jewelry that I would be able to show and sell in a gallery.

If I knew at the time of this draft that I wouldn't be making any jewelry I would definitely have been sad. It makes me sad now. I feel like I have let myself down and I don't know how to pick it all back up again.

The room in our two-bedroom apartment that is designated "the studio" was starting to feel more like a junk room than a space for making, so we've been packing everything up and we got a storage unit. We're trying to put everything away and pack up everything so once the space has been cleansed, it can be remade and reborn as a making space again.

There is too much clutter! Both physically in the environment we surround ourselves with, as well as in the mind. There is so much stimulus everywhere and at all times it's hard to know what to do, when, or how. Before a decision can be made about one thing, the brain is already onto the next thing that was noticed and starts trying to figure it out too.

This has been one of the hardest things for me, that the environment I'm in really affects how I am able to function. I can't make sense of the clutter in my mind if the environment I'm in is already cluttered. Thus, studio clean-out. I'm hopeful that removing everything and putting things back with order can really help to recharge and reenergize the space.

All that I want is to create some level of efficiency and order in my life so that I feel that I can function. Even with things as simple as household chores. I get so swept up in figuring out what I should be doing and how I should be doing it that I don't actually have the time to get anything done! I become paralyzed.


One of the pieces that I created for my senior thesis show was titled Malaise (pictured above). The definition of which is:
A general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify.
This piece is a two finger ring, and honestly, because of it's large size and the relative lack of finger motion it does kind of make the wearer feel a little discomfort and possibly some uneasiness. But here the exact cause is known, the ring! If only it were that easy to pinpoint in real life.

The phrase I used to describe the piece was this:
A vague anxiety is emitted, prompting a state of lethargy. 
Looking back, I realize that's pretty much how I feel a lot of the time. One of my "strengths" in the Gallup Strengths Finder test is Future. I honestly can't be sure this isn't actually my biggest weakness. I'm always caught up in what the future holds and I have to know! So, because knowing that is impossible, I get anxious and I get stuck trying to figure it out and plan all the different scenarios.

There is this hampster wheel of thought that I'm constantly running in, trying to figure out all the steps for one plan, and then I think of another possibility and have to do the same for that plan, but then I think of another... and so the wheel spins on and I go nowhere. I really ought to get a hampster ball. Even if I was still caught inside of a bubble I'd still be going somewhere instead of staying stationary.

I feel like I am stationary, caught in arrested development. I want to move forward, but don't know how. I feel like I'm tethered down and can't break free of a cycle which is slowly but surely draining all the energy within me, instead of filling me up.

I just want to make again. Let making new things be my focus. Being a future thinker, when I start to make, I'm always thinking about how the session will eventually have to end. Maybe I will run out of time before a thought is fully developed, or I'll lose track of time and be late and feel reprehended by those counting on me. Knowing that either of these is a likely outcome makes me not want to start in the first place. These are the all-consuming thoughts I have not just when I'm trying to build up the energy to make something, but also when trying to start doing anything at all in my day.
Progress in art as in life is by very gradual steps. It is well for us that we cannot look ahead and realize at the outset the final goal. We would not be strong enough spiritually to stand this vision, good or bad. It would make us untrue to our ideals and cause us to fall short of our best. ~ Childe Hassam ~
Gradual steps. What are gradual steps? I'm not sure, since I have very little practice in it. However, I will start trying to remember that I can't know what the future holds. I know that trying to realize it prematurely paralyzes me and keeps me from my goals and dreams. I need to try and find who I am and what ideals I want to uphold here in the present, so I can strive to be my best here in the present. If I can stop always thinking of my fear of falling short in the future, perhaps I can start to build myself up in the present.