Digging Deeper with the Right Questions
It’s hard to believe that 22 weeks have gone by since my first blog for the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant. A lot has changed since then, most obviously our current state of affairs resulting from the Coronavirus. It will be interesting to see in what ways it affects how we function in society in general, how our arts community evolves locally, and how it influences us individually. More specifically to the Grant process, of course, is the question of how have we, as artists, changed or evolved within our practice during this grant period. That is what I am asking myself now as the end of the grant period nears.
When I first met with my mentor, Carol Mickett, in February, she asked me what I was looking for during this process, as well as what I wanted from her. My response was that I wanted to be stretched. She asked some hard questions, the answers to which would hinge on my understanding and responding to four things. Firstly, recognizing and playing to my strengths as an artist: drawing/line work, an intuitive approach to composition, and my color sense. Secondly, revisiting previous significant work that successfully incorporated those elements to one degree or another. Thirdly, recognizing that just because an approach seems easy does not mean it has less value. And, fourthly, digging deeper into what it is I am trying to say with my subject matter/motif (i.e. making it personal rather than “other,” looking beyond the obvious symbolism or metaphor) and how I am interpreting it to further the narrative.
Taking all that into consideration led me to change course from what I thought I would be doing for my grant project (an installation cyanotype piece) to harking back to the inspiration of a piece I had done several years ago. It was one I had intended to develop further but was sidetracked as I explored another medium to solve some issues I had encountered with it. Because I knew what I was doing now (even though this new piece would present different challenges) the process was conducive to thinking through the direction I want to step into going forward.
A direction is beginning to take shape. It will, at least initially, push the envelope of some of the approaches embodied successfully in earlier work. More importantly, though, this exercise in digging deeper has pushed me to better understand what I am about and what it is that I am really saying. It is giving me more confidence in my explorations going forward, whether I draw on past work or investigate wholly new ways of expressing an idea. In part, it has to do with flipping intent. Rather than using a motif and laying intent in top of it, the motif needs to grow organically from the intent. It is a simple thing, but hugely important – the heart has to come first.
Asking the right questions makes a difference.
Thanks for reading!