October 9, 2012

Artists Talk

        Last week I participated in a "Creative Connections" Artist Talk series at a local library.  There were three of us presenting that afternoon, and there were some interesting themes that came up between us.  The first woman to present is a potter who makes what she calls "multi-component interactive sculptures" out of porcelain.  Next spoke a metalsmith who mostly makes silver jewelry.  The examples he brought
used a lot of filigree.  And third was me.  There were definitely some differences between us - the ceramicist has been featured in all sorts of national and international juried shows, the metalsmith is a full-time professional, the sculptures and jewelry are largely abstract as opposed to my representational-ism…  Usually it seems that any group of artists is composed primarily of painters, and I'm often the odd one out because my medium involves the three-dimensional stage of carving the block.  But this time I was the odd one out for making 2-D works on paper!
        But what really interested me about participating in this program were the common themes that emerged despite the obvious differences in our finished work.  The first of these themes was the desire to follow our own curiosity, as opposed to designing things specifically with an eye to commercial popularity.  We all spoke about the joy in seeing something, getting an idea, and following it to see where it might lead.  We all mentioned that we don't like to repeat the exact same thing over and over but want to try something a little different each time.
        We also all mentioned nature as a major source of inspiration.  With all my prints of plants and animals, that's presumably pretty obvious in my work, but I certainly wouldn't have guessed it in the work of the silversmith (although perhaps it would be more obvious in some of his other work that I didn't see).  And the ceramic sculptures were even more interesting in this regard because the potter showed some photos of natural objects followed by a piece inspired by each one.  In some cases it was clear: a pitcher and mugs modeled with the shape and color of bamboo, for example.  But in other cases the connection appeared very slight, and this illustrated a point that was really interesting to me.  That is, inspiration and ideas come from all sorts of places, but they get transformed in each person, and they come out different from each person's own way of thinking, feeling, and creating.  Isn't it amazing and wonderful how the human imagination can be sparked by something, and flame up, and twirl away in any one of a million unique directions?
        Plus, I had to smile when the potter mentioned her excitement about diatoms, and showed the sculpture inspired by their forms… at that very moment I had at home a collection of photos of microscopic organisms and a couple of first sketches of an idea for a print inspired by them.  But if I ever do make that print, won't it be wonderful to see how completely different our two pieces of art will be, though both inspired by the same wonder at this same amazing detail of nature?

        This Creative Connections talk was one of the events connected with Natick Artists Open Studios, which will be held this year on October 20 and 21.  If you're anywhere in the neighborhood, stop by and visit us!  (The other artists who spoke with me were Suzanne Stumpf and John Harwood, if you want to look them up.)

[Pictures: A Couple of Hats, rubber block print by AEGN, 2008.]

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