The countdown is on.
This is the first I’ve mentioned it here, but I am in the midst of preparing for a solo show that will run for 6 weeks at the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery starting in late March. It’s exciting to be in the organizational phase of pulling together everything that I have been working on for the past year. Every opportunity I have to show my work reflects the privilege I feel at being able to share my interpretations and insights, and with that comes responsibility.
As you well know, it’s not at all unusual for tendencies toward creativity to be squelched at an early age by rewarding only those who are able to render a realistic likeness or by shaming those who color outside the lines, both literally and figuratively. It’s so important to encourage all young people, as I was fortunate to have been, rather than deterring them in their creative explorations.
Years ago, when volunteering for an art project in my daughter’s second grade class (they were making cornucopia placemats in anticipation of Thanksgiving) I was surprised when her teacher insisted that they paste the cut-out fruits and vegetables in a specific way, and then appalled at witnessing her anger upon discovering some were ad-libbing the prescribed process. This was an art project, for heaven’s sake, to make placemats for their upcoming classroom Thanksgiving party! It was even more upsetting to me when she proceeded to single out one child as “the artist” in the classroom, announcing that that person was completing the project correctly and her example should be followed. How demoralizing! This must surely have sent the message that creativity wasn’t valued and that the artist “slot” had already been filled.
The next month all parents were invited to sign up to come into the same classroom to share a family holiday tradition. Our family used to make gift wrap by stamping craft paper with sponges lightly dipped into acrylic paint, covering the paper with colorful images. I brought in supplies for everyone and we rolled up our sleeves to get to work. It distressed me how many children in that classroom were concerned that they were “doing it right”. In fact, they almost seemed fearful they might make a misstep. Remembering the Thanksgiving placemats, I felt it was my duty to assure them that there was no right or wrong way to make art…that was the beauty of it. I wanted them to hear from another adult that they were fully in charge of their own work; it was meant to be fun. Period.
Which brings me back to responsibility. For those of us who have found our way to spending our time making things and expressing our ideas creatively, I truly feel it is our job to pay close attention to the world around us and then to share what we’ve learned with others via that work. This opens a door not only to connection, but also to varying perspectives. What we make may or may not resonate with anyone else, but it’s important to bring it out into the open. It is powerfully rewarding when someone approaches me to say they have found a personal connection between their own life experience and what they see in my work. As Degas said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”.
My upcoming exhibit will include both Shibori stitched pieces and drawings from my daily sketch practice. The basis is to show how each discipline has influenced the other and to honor the “every day”. These works are not political per se, yet my goal is to highlight that the quiet moments of our lives are just as important as the outwardly momentous ones, and perhaps more so in times of uncertainty and upheaval.
Having decided on a title, I feel I have checked off one of the more challenging preparatory elements of any show (aside from making the work itself). Also, I want to share the many resources that have made this organizational phase much easier to navigate. Alyson Stanfield has a terrific customizable exhibition checklist that is well-worth bookmarking. For more helpful resources, check my posts Behind the Scenes and It’s Not Just About the Art.
In the weeks ahead, as I continue to pull everything together, I expect to return from time to time with other behind-the-scenes aspects of preparation. But in the meantime, I hope you will put Drawing Threads: Conversations Between Line & Stitch on your calendar. It will open March 22, 2018, with an artist reception on Sunday, March 25th.