three books

three books

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Again with the Wabi Sabi

I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED - Chalk paint and wax on canvas

As often happens when I get overly excited about exploring new techniques I go off in six different directions and paralyze myself with the overwhelming wealth of possibilities. Time to step back and ponder recent work to decide where I'm at and where I'm going.
"I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED" was the last piece I finished in the series I call "Ode to the Ladies".
This series was inspired by absolute awe for the positive, life affirming attitude of the ladies of Gees Bend Alabama (see earlier post) who proved it possible to make silk purses from sows ears. Metaphorically at least. 
As positive as that sounds I have to admit that it was equally motivated by a severe case of retail guilt - that horrible sense of responsibility for abetting the crime of corporate junk offloading and encouraging people to both buy and to "buy in" to the myth that more stuff is going to transform their lives and energize their creative spirit. 
In response to those factors I challenged myself to create a series of work using a large percentage of reused and repurposed materials. I wish I could lay claim to the setting of a trend but in fact I was both influenced and encouraged by a current movement, particularly in European decor, that promotes "undecorating". It is about down-scaling, simplifying, reusing, re-purposing and, most importantly, appreciating the objects we choose to live with. Hand crafted objects are an significant factor in this with value placed on the minor imperfections or human-ness of them as much as for their beauty or practicality. Trendy yes but new? Hardly. It is no more than a western revision of the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi, which encourages the acceptance and even celebration of imperfection. I came to appreciate this concept as a potter years ago and find it interesting that it translates directly into the kind of artwork I am drawn to now. 
I don't know how to wrap up all that pondering in a word so I'll use someone else's. Carlos, a metaphysical maniac I used to know once said, "Why strive for perfection? Perfection is subjective and therefor unattainable. Strive instead for excellence in all aspects of life and let your work reflect joy in that endeavor."

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