Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Art and Soul

I love Portland. I've lived here for 15 years, and it still surprises and delights me. Art and Soul is a cool mixed media arts retreat that's been held in Portland for 5 years now - finally, this year, I got to go! I took a class today from Diane Downs today on how to alter a canvas by adding niches to it - one of those things that I'd read about, but really needed to see hands-on to "get." I had made some paper by arranging and color photocopying recipe cards from a box of old family recipes that my mom gave me - things in my mom's handwriting, my dad's, my grandmother's - even old ones my mom had typed! I used the paper as a cover for the foam core that formed the niche, and for the background of the canvas.

And then somehow the heart just seemed right, along with the white picket fence and the dollhouse window (a gift from Diane - I love it!) Later, I added some matches to one of the niches and have my eye on some etchings of cutlery and my artmaking neighbor from Texas, Ann Webb, gave me some skulls that may need to find a home here . . . there's a strange death and domesticity theme popping up - again.
A friend recently asked me "why shrines"? I think it's largely because I was turned off by modern art and art that was only about deconstructing and challenging the aesthetic ideals of other artists. This happened during art school. I think it happens to a lot of artists. We lose the soul, and get caught up in critiques and techniques and how our work contributes to "the art dialogue." It was around this time that I was really drawn to craft, to outsider art, to process art, to folk art, and to devotional art. Art that was made out of passion, compulsion, prayer or practicality. Art that came out of the need and desire of people to make meaning out of their lives, not just the work of other artists. Devotional art and folk art let me to mandalas, masks, rituals and shrines, as did my own exploration of different spiritual traditions. And I began to look at my precious artmaking objects and my memorabilia and all the evidence of my history and experience of spirit and gather those things together into shrines as a way of both understanding them and honoring them and making art that was meaningful to me. More later, but that's it in a nutshell. Whew!

No comments: