Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Finding Meaning in Texture, Giving Texture to Meaning

This painting is one part of a group installed as a large horizontal installation (though spaced individually about 6" between each).  Because I paint from texture and color, I depend on those elements to give me the information I need to develop meaning, or theme.  Some would say image, but since my work leans to impressionism or expressionism, I discourage the sense of finality that "image" conjures for me.  "Image" comes from the click of the digital camera, the slick magazine page torn out at the dentist's office, the picture our minds make because that is our ocular-cerebral function.  I have never spoken with anyone blind from birth, but I would like to know how they describe what they "see", or "imagine" when presented with a physical object.  That may be where "image"(likeness) reverts to its origin "imagine"(to picture to one's self) and retains a floating, ephemeral quality, not needing to be crystallized (unless of course the object presented to a blind person is something like a knife which would need to retain some mental impression of possible danger). If, in fact, this is the way in which blind people see, I can "imagine" an exciting working relationship between sighted artists and blind wordsmiths co-creating visions tossed back and forth like weightless dandelion heads till, scattered, they grow into a new kind of experimental verbal/ocular garden.  For me, then, to stay in the realm of "imagine", I need to push "image" aside and find the birth of idea, theme or meaning, another way.  Another way, and by no means the only way, is via texture and/or color.

Recently I signed on for an Essay class taught by Andrea Collier, a member of my new favorite group, SheWrites.  Among a list of questions posed to each student was "what do you see as your biggest obstacle in essay writing?"  I answered that it was in not knowing where I would end up, or less vaguely put, the obstacle looked like a brick wall, behind which hid the answer, the conclusion, the "image" that an essay needed.  I can see the meadow of a general topic; I can see the path of personal experience, the atmosphere of a wider implication of the experience; what I cannot see is the clipped image, the 8 x 10 glossy of the conclusion.  So, I do not begin. 

Happily Ms. Collier told me that I do not need to know.  I need only to begin.  We chatted about my art process and the curtain parted;  easily visible was beginning with the kernel of concept and then, in the writing, both distill and clarify with texture and color - rather like the opposite of how I paint, but viscerally acute.  I begin.

Check back for progress and for other notes on art processes and musings (voices from the Muse)

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