My artistic intent for 2012-2013 was to create light-hearted work. I saw it as an opportunity to explore a variety of media and make some decisions on artistic direction.
Then my life happened: unresolved conflict with my daughter-in-law, painful separation from my son, a new position at work that’s rife with political difficulty, my father entering hospice, and on-going relationship work with my husband.
Since childhood, making stuff has been the way I released stress and helped myself feel better. I create a tangible object over which I have control: I can mold it into something positive, beautiful. It is a way that I prove—to myself—that I am still o.k. The colors, the pattern, the materials speak to me in a calming way, connecting me to spirit, the creation and God. When times get bad, I can submerse myself in my artwork and feel balance again. I am so thankful for this gift.
To digress a bit…when my ex-husband died, I took a major artistic departure. I’d been a costume designer for a number of years, while creating and selling original art-to-wear on the side. After Jeevan’s death, this area of exploration was too painful to continue, so I stopped creating clothing in favor of other areas. I took my work different directions—collage, mosaic, tiles, encaustic, and jewelry. Each of these media allows me to indulge in rich varieties of materials, mixing them to suit my emotional state.
My jewelry work, though, serves another function. During these difficult times, I’ve turned to art-jewelry-to-wear as emotional armor. In the midst of a terrible time, I can sit down with mixed media supplies and create pieces to express my situation or affirm my person. I can wear it as affirmation and protection. This taps into a long human tradition of the worn talisman, interpreted for my needs today.
In June, I thought I would be featuring a different medium roughly every month, creating an online teaching module for each, perhaps attracting students to this online academy, and it would keep me on target. I am, after all, a teacher and people-pleaser by nature! I envisioned a highly interactive and creative time period.
Life had a different plan. As I fell apart emotionally, I turned to creativity. My good old friend was there for me as always! I could retreat into color, texture, pattern, materials, form and beauty for a while. I’d emerge with finished piece, a testimonial to my survival and a thread of hope for the future. I dove in deeply and came up from the bottom of this ocean with treasures—some painfully jagged, others placid like calm seas after a storm.
The pieces I created are not balanced across the media I use, nor do they represent the total number of areas in which I work as an artist. Most are jewelry, talismans created to help me get through the very rough days. Because most are 3-D, they are better viewed in person. But as all contemporary artists know, our work will be seen first in digital media. The twelve works are represented by a product and a detail shot, a brief description, and some are included in video as well.
Direction for the future? I told my husband last night that I feel sewing is again in my future. I’ve been feeling this for a while, but held off on talking about it or getting out my equipment till I felt more sure. Sewing and art-to-wear are connections to the past, a source of grief and guilt, and hold potential for great joy and expression. If I think about it too much, I become overwhelmed. If I stick with the excitement of creating a new piece to wear, I might be able to get to the other side, the other trapeze I see swinging toward me…
…now if I can only let go.