Wednesday, November 15, 2017
working with what you've got
One of my most interesting takeaways from our ART ON THE CHEAP panel discussion last night, which focused on artists using upcycled and re-used materials in their artmaking, was the "work with what you've got", the consensus being pretty much unanimous that creativity happens most when you are forced to work within the confines of available material. I was curious, and included the discussion question as to whether or not artists begin with an an idea and then seek out the material needs, or whether the material, as it prevents itself, dictates the project. It was overwhelmingly the latter, and have pretty much found that to be true in my own visual endeavor, though maybe even more so in my writing.
I've often mentioned how my writing practice changed around 2005, when I went from sitting down and attempting to say something in a poem (successfully or unsuccessfully) and a more collage, chaos driven approach after that.- a culling and assembling bits if language, image, and idea. Sometimes I have everything I need when I sit down to do the writing. Sometimes I don't and need to seek more out, or set something aside until I manage to have everything I need. My own writing became so much more interesting to me at that point, and much less wrought with worry and feelings of failure.
Of course language is different, and endless when you compare it to the scarceness of say, thrifted items or ephemera, so there is a little more freedom there. I'm especially feeling this tension in material as I work on the /slash/ pieces, which are part found, part generated. Sometimes the generated seems rather dull next to the found, and sometimes vice versa. I guess the key is finding the balance.
(the above collage was one of my endeavors for the Book to Art project. I've been composing a lot of collaged digitally lately, more than by hand, and it felt good to work in a more material way, and also an excellent exersize in making the most of what you've got (in this case a buttload of discarded books and images of movie stars).