art and meaning

I can only imagine, poorly at that, what it must be like to do installations or make art for a grant or fellowship. Honestly I haven't spent much time thinking about that and I'm sure it is because I'm still in my own world of experimenting and learning about me and this art stuff. The possibilities seem endless but I'm still not at a point where I feel I have something to say specifically with my art. I'm not sure I'd want the pressure of making a statement if that is what one has to do to appease the art gods in society. That might sound bad, but to me it is good. I like the freshness of not even knowing myself what is going to happen. It's still unplanned and feels natural. I like the spontaneity even if during the process I struggle when I want something to be a certain way and I know it just can't go that way, if anything I think it helps loosen up the rigidities in my being and in my life one cell at a time.

This little collection of ten clocks that I'm working on compared to the one hundred clocks I'm still working on is a completely different experience. I never thought I would like to make even two of the same thing so making ten felt like a stretch. Since I'm working with found objects, nothing is as simple as laying everything out and doing the exact same process to each piece and I'm glad for that. I get bored easily and while I may bang my head and swear and get frustrated, in the end it is rewarding to have worked on something and had to figure out how to get around certain obstacles.

I'm also imagining other artists doing their thing. It occurs to me how much we are the same and yet how different. I guess we are all just expressing ourselves (duh) but the whys, are they different I wonder? I've had discussions with more than a few artists about 'meaning'. Just yesterday another artist talked to me about the meaning of their art and I still wonder if I will ever feel my art has meaning. I think they are talking about the piece itself meaning something, it just now occurs to me there is more than one meaning to this meaning business. I know it means something to me or else I wouldn't do it. I know I need to do it, it is really the only reason I think I bother existing. As a whole it means something but each piece, each thing I make I am not consciously aware of putting meaning into or onto it. When I was telling this artist my take, I wrote something that stuck with me so I will repeat it here:

I had my own crisis and went out searching for who I was and ended up making art (although I am not introspective about my art at all but I am searching for who I am and art is some odd language that even I do not understand but must speak).

That really seems to sum up how I feel. I am startled and surprised by what I make. That I even make. I have no clue and I think that also is a good thing. I need an element of surprise as I feel tainted and filled with grooves of repetition of thought and doing in my life. Art is the one thing that forces me to have a relationship with myself that is completely safe. I'm not sure that makes sense to you, but that's the only way I can put it. Art isn't going to hurt me. It isn't going to come back and say things at me, to me, about me. It is pure and it's own thing. It told me what it wanted to be and I made it. I don't have to worry the work is pointing at me saying something about me that isn't true because it isn't me. It isn't going to trick me or scare me. It allows me to have time to relax and learn to be with myself without worrying I'm saying or doing the wrong thing. It is like some big fuzzy dog filled with love and it only teaches me how to be kinder. Sappy shit I know but that is how I feel. I guess the meaning comes AFTER, and it has nothing to do with what is on the wall. The meaning gets assimilated and embedded into me from whatever experiences I had putting the piece together. From the early stages of going out there and collecting stuff to the getting of proper tools and getting the experience using those tools, to having patience with myself and with 'it'. When I'm done with a piece and look at it I see the struggles and ease that happened working on it but mostly I just feel done and ready to move on. I don't look at it and think something about what it is saying or what it means. I'm okay with that, in fact I'm glad for it. No mind. No mind.


Daphne Enns said...

Your art is about the process. Some art is about the concept.

I am mostly about process, and my work is successful when I allow the work to show me what I need to do next. And yet every year I try to make something where the concept comes and the work needs to fulfill that idea. I seem to fail fairly often when I do that. Concept is the reason it took me so long to become an artist. Why come up with words for an idea and then make it visual? So I get it.

And yet I know that in order to get those grants I have to put my work into words. Is it scary? Yeah. Will I want to do the project by the time the grant is accepted? Perhaps not. The point is that grants allow for experimentation and a reasonable amount of latitude in what your resulting work is.It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be attempted.

But I get it. You don't want outside influences. Why change what is working for your soul?

self taught artist said...

i keep forgetting about concept. i guess i do that too, i set out to make 100 clocks i think that counts as a concept yes?

i would imagine it is very scary to go after what you are going after, its nice to hear someone admit it. i like that you are swimming in both pools. i'm interested in what you say: Concept is the reason it took me so long to become an artist. perhaps you will expound on that here or your place.

Daphne Enns said...

Yes, the concept was 100!

Thank you for the idea of talking about concept/process and how it took be so long to become an artist because of it! I will use it soon!

San said...

Beautifully written, Paula. I too start out with vague ideas of what I want to accomplish in a painting, but the painting always seems to go better when I listen to what the painting has to say and allow it to direct me.

And I love what you say about art forcing you to have a relationship with yourself that is completely safe. It does at that!

M. Trigos said...

Well put, well written. You do make sense, and yes the whys of we as artist make art is for sure different. But maybe the necessity is the same, art for art's sake, our very own sake.

Anonymous said...

I love how you are able to put to paper your thoughts and feelings. The process is working in harmony with your art.

self taught artist said...

glad you guys understand what I'm saying, sometimes it feels impossible to get my meaning across in words.

Karen said...

concepts, inspirations, process. That is a mouthful! I suppose each work has at least one of these going on within it. Sometimes I feel like the tool that art uses to put itself out there, meaning that I go with whatever has hit me and sort it out later. Other times it is all very deliberate. Who knows and maybe it is best not to dwell on the whys of it all!