Inspired by Current Questions
In previous blog posts I wrote about various areas of inspiration:
This post is tougher, I’m trying to describe “A Creative Response to Chaos” or how I am Inspired by current questions and my social life, or lack thereof. But as an artist, I ask myself questions; then go into the non-verbal area of textile painting and mixed media fiber art (because that’s my specialty) and use the tools to come to answers. In this blog post I’m sharing the diverse answers which have come so far.
Our current year is 2020, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. In our county the government directive to stay home began on March 20, 2020. I’m counting weeks from that date.
Week 1 was curious: being “on vacation at home” allowed time-off from the regular routines. Time to sit with my husband and talk about our life, time to paint some interior decorations, time in our spring garden, time to check in with family and friends, and no shopping at all.
Week 2 had a very different flavor: A highly esteemed in-law grandma died of Covid-19 in Geneva, Switzerland. She was in great form, planning for her 100th Birthday party in May. (The city of Geneva offers her centenarians this party. ) Then two or three days with the virus and she passed away in her sleep.
Week two also brought a poison oak infection on my chin, neck, both hands and wrists: Time to think about my next textile painting. The solitary farms in the California Coastal range visualize isolation. The rounded hills are like the desert in the summer.
Week 3 was mainly spent on painting and stitching “Isolation “. Maybe in the future a person not yet born will ask: “ How was this time of isolation and quarantine?” - I’d like to leave a visual answer in form of a textile painting : “Isolation in the California Coastal Range”.
Week 3 was also about the business side of art. The Gallery that sold my art is now permanently closed and visitors cannot come to my studio; that adds up to no sales. So I’ll need to add an online shop to my web page which needs to be redone in any case. I’m not naive about that: it will take more money and time than I’m really willing to give it. That is time away from the studio creation time which I jealously guard.
We went shopping one time to one store also buying for two other households who are self-isolating due to preexisting conditions. Week four hasn’t started yet: the directive was changed to an order which is enforced by law.
Week 4 passed away very quickly with gardening and interior painting. The physical work made me so tired that it was easy to work with my little aim of looking at virus numbers and GIS data maximum twice a day.
Our social life which is normally quite full dwindled to a now online health class and a few phone calls and texts.
My wrists are still red, but the skin is healing from the poison oak.
In week 4 and the following weeks, there is time to think more about current questions. How can I continue to respond creative to the current chaos? - In the Oxford Dictionary, synonyms for the adjective “fractal” include: unarranged, unplanned, and unpremeditated. This describes the creation of “Seeking Clarity” fairly well. I worked completely intuitively. “Seeking Clarity” is full of irregular shaped forms, made up of repeating points and lines, like leaves on a tree, no two areas are alike.
At some point I stopped counting weeks, a new reality is setting in. Half a year ago, I had never heard the term “Social Distancing”. Probing for visual answers, at first the water color appeared, then this larger tapestry-style wall hanging. Techniques for this exploration include painting, appliqué, stitching by hand and home sewing machine, crocheting, and needle-weaving. They are used to show my current understanding of the difficulties to balance the needs of human nearness with healthy distance. I’m showing it on the outside of our studio, so that passersby can see it.
Relevant for me is an earlier piece “He Does Not Play”. The sobering message that the acts of the ‘grim reaper’ are final for us humans whether through the current virus, through war, through guns, through domestic or any other kind of violence. Originally, I didn’t want to create this piece; I found it too difficult to tackle questions of violence. But the idea was sitting in my head. So after a year I understood it: I had to create it, whether you or I like it, or not.
My current work in progress? - It’s mixed media fiber art on the topic of “Healing”. Personally, economically, as a society, we will have to go through multiple levels of healing.
Thanks for your empathy, shown by reading to the end!