Thursday, July 8, 2010

Art: Sometimes "It's All About the Process"

I've heard people say that for them, art is all about the "process" more than, say, fame or fortune. In any art form, the journey towards a completed work of art can be rich and meaningful. Or it can be torture! Or both.... Discovering what you have to say with music, dance or paint may be a prelude to a finished piece. Yet some of the discovery takes place even as you are making whatever it is you think you are making. There are bound to be changes. Surely you've heard novelists say that their characters took over and sprouted new plotlines. The creative flow can be like that.

In collage, part of what I love is the pure mystery of what emerges. Gathering together a pile of images, then weaving them into some new whole, is for me very satisfying. Sometimes I work with intention, sometimes not. Often what I think I'm doing takes a left turn and ends up somewhere else. Backing up a bit, part of the collage process is gathering all those images that appeal to you. The search for materials, not only gathering them, but sorting them, becomes part of the journey. Unless I am involved in a process of discovery, of continually nudging my materials and obsessions into a new form, I get bored.

Only recently I learned there actually is something called Process Art. Think of Jackson Pollock flinging paint on canvas. Or Andy Goldsworthy building sculptures from icicles or twigs. Yet in true "Process Art", as I understand it, the final product is not the point at all. The actual performance of the art is what it's all about. As the Wikipedia article on Process Art points out, such art as been around a long time in the form of such rites as Buddhist sand painting or Japanese tea ceremonies.

Making art can be very ritualistic. Thinking of artmaking as ritual takes it into the spiritual realm, does it not? Such ritual can become the high point of the artist's life, be they musicians, dancers, sculptors. I'm glad I don't make art that requires public performance, but thinking of performers I know, often they have trouble winding down after the high point of a major concert or show. They make art every time they perform, whereas most visual artists perform alone in front of their canvas or clay, and then if they are lucky, bring their art somewhere out into the world to be seen. Right now I am missing my collage rituals because I am spending all my time working on an Art Chair for the Furniture Bank. I just started a Mixed Media course at the Art League, and in the next seven weeks hope to learn some new tricks for taking collage to canvas, mixing it with paint and image transfer processes. The good thing about taking a break from one medium to try another is that it helps the creative well to fill. Often you learn techniques from one medium you can transfer to another.

There's a new reality show on Bravo televison called Work of Art that I find fascinating. Viewers get to see the competing artists go through their processes to complete various artistic challenges. The winner will be given a one man show at the Brooklyn Museum.

My "Dollscape" collage above is one of the pieces I entered in the Jung Center Anthologie show, which runs through July 14th. When I was at the Center a few days ago, I noticed that very few pieces had the coveted red dot on their labels signifying a sale. I had three of my collages printed on giclee canvas for the show, an investment I may never recoup. But that's alright, making the art is really its own reward. Feeling obsessed enough to keep making art is for me a vital life force. Hope that doesn't sound pompous! And so the journey continues....

collage by KAO: Planetary Reflection (2010)


Hilde said...

I think this newest collage is my favorite.

I love the creative process because I disappear and become what I am creating. I feel eternal.

Now if I could just get my life to feel like Process Art!!

LoneStarLibrarian said...

Thanks, Hilde! I may quote from your comment in the near future!