17 October 2011

The River Mosaic

After going through all the stone I have in the studio I've picked out what I'm going to use for the next mosaic - Emperador Medium (of course when it's cut up into tiny cubes it won't look anything like that photo). I have a 5 sq. ft. slab of it that's 1.25" thick. I just need to cut a BUNCH of it up into 3-5mm cubes... Good thing I have some big hammers.

I know what glass I'm using. Dalle de Verre - in Blues & Greens. Tomorrow I'm ordering 4 or 5 slabs (and a Blenko hammer).

I'm thinking about also incorporating some stones from the river. Don't know for sure, though - I don't want to put too much in... Sometimes I cross the line between making something really interesting and going too far with the interesting bit...

I do have some absolutely perfect river stones though - lots of them, in fact.I wonder if I have any brown ones that would look good with the Emperador Medium...

If not, I could get enthusiastic about doing some beach combing. Haven't been to Hoc-Si-La Park in quite a while...

15 October 2011

Encouraging an art-filled life

A friend asked me about art opportunities for her son (who spent his morning making masks)... and I said:
There are some venues around here that offer art opportunities. We can talk about them sometime. But I want to say that while it is grand to get kids together to make art, I think it's more important to make sure that the creative creature that lives inside of each of us has a chance. Parents are the best incubators for that creative creature.

I think that the critical thing is to encourage constant experimentation... making art is experimentation - pure, wonderful, exasperating, beautiful experimentation - it's giving in to the urge to "what if..." something, to take a bit of this and a bit of that and put them together to make a new thing. It doesn't have to be limited to traditional art activities - building a snow fort or baking a pie or making some contraption can be experimental - and if it is, you're feeding the creative creature.

The most important thing for raising a child (or an adult) to live an art-filled life - to be blessed with the indescribable lightness of being that art generates - is to be willing to totally wreck havoc in the name of experimentation, to be willing to put the journey and the finding out ahead of things like order and propriety and everything else that shuts down the creative mind, that forces us to be those cogs in the machine.
I was very lucky as a child - my parents did not have much, but they let us play with almost everything they had. The contraptions we made were applauded and treasured - even when they had to be scraped off the sidewalk, or painted over, or dismantled so that dinner could be put on the table, or, or, or...

I was "sewing" before I started school, "building" before I was out of grade school... I learned how to use tools, how to make stuff from bits of this and that, how to fix things, how to "see" what might be, how to be fearless in my experimentation - to know "I can do that..." whatever "that" was.

And all because I was taught that the creative creature was important, that it was the most important part of me - the part that made me alive - the creative creature was me. Life was all about the making and thinking and looking and finding... All those doings done, all those thoughts thought, they stayed with me throughout my life. Even in the times when I was too afraid to make art, when life demanded too much of me to be able to spare the energy, I still was art-filled.

And one day I came back to it.

So, would I like to make my living making art? Hell yes. I'd love to... and I am really stubborn, so maybe it will happen.

But it's ever so much more important to just be making the art.

06 October 2011

Not a simple issue

Refused and Confused - New York Times, Oct 05, 2011 - Linda Greenhouse

Off the cuff I think that people who use their religion/other positions to refuse service to others should give up the employment that asks them to serve the public.

But do I think that way because the services being discussed in the article are ones I believe should be available... or because it is sound policy to require any legally available service to be provided no matter what the personal beliefs of the providing individual? I'm trying to think of services that I might find distasteful or morally wrong and see how I feel about this from the other side...

I need a philosopher to toss this around with. In lieu of one showing up at my door here's what I'm thinking...

The crux of the matter - either:
  • employees are forced to provide services they abhor to the public at large, or to specific groups of people,
  • employees get to pick and choose what services they will provide and/or to whom...
Does it violate a person's civil rights to force them to perform a service, or make a service available, if they feel it is a morally wrong thing to do?

Does it violate an individual's civil rights to have a government/agency employee deny them a legal service because the employee feels, a.) it is morally wrong that anyone receive the service (e.g. birth control, abortion), or b.) that the person is morally wrong for asking for the service (e.g. marriage licenses for same-sex couples, police protection for abortion doctors/clinics)?

Honestly, even if it is questionable (in regard to civil rights) to ask an employee to provide a service they feel is morally wrong, I cannot think of a situation where an individual's rights would trump the rights of a person seeking a legally provided service. But that might be a slippery slope of another sort...

When this kind of news story appears I end up feeling that too many people brandish their beliefs at the rest of us without actually living according to them. If you believe that same-sex marriage is morally wrong, it's not living your beliefs to deny a marriage license to a same-sex couple. Living your beliefs - following your moral code - would be quitting your job if it required you to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

That's how it plays out inside my head anyway.

05 October 2011

The Beelandia Mosaic

Is mostly finished. All I have to do is add the hardware for hanging it out on the fence. It probably won't go out until next spring, so there's no rush.

Beelandia Apiary, 12" x 24", stained glass, smalti, glass rod.

There's a bit of reflection on the left half... It is actually very evenly colored and the right half is more representational of the colors.

04 October 2011

The Wall - Waiting for the Extraordinary Things

I made a small mosaic the other day for a friend. It was her 60th birthday.

At the party someone asked me about soul-mates... inferring that I had said at a previous party that I believe in them. This is an old topic at the parties, and for some strange reason, a bit controversial...

So, rather than get back into the topic (it was too early in the evening and not enough alcohol had been consumed to make the discussion interesting - consumed by others since I don't do alcohol - a whole 'nother story there...) I simply said "I believe that just about anything is possible." "Wise answer," my questioner replied. Luckily, before she could keep on about soul-mates, one of the others at the party quoted Alicia from the movie A Beautiful Mind - "I need to believe that something extraordinary is possible."

The birthday friend, who is very much concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict said, "Extraordinary things are not possible..." She can't see how a peaceful resolution can happen.

I admit that my response to her comment and the situation is more emotional than informed - which is often the case for me; the feelings get in the way of the thinking sometimes. And even when I try to think critically about the issues I often feel like many of the world's problems are insurmountable (and so why should any of us try?)...

But I've decided that I'm not going to quit thinking about them and talking about them and trying to learn about them.

And I'm not about to stop making art about them...

It was strange because when I made this mosaic I had no idea why I made it like it is.

The Wall, 4" x 8", marble, recycled glass.
I loved the materials when I placed them side-by-side on the worktable. The cream-colored marble has a slight orange veining in it and somehow feels both smooth and gritty at the same time. The background is Rain Forest Green marble (because of how it looks, not that it comes from a rain forest). And the red is a recycled, tumbled, landscape glass that I've cut into sharp slivers. They looked beautiful together - until I started cementing them down... then they made me a bit uncomfortable.

Once I finished the white line I realized that it was "the wall." And the red represents the bloodshed on both sides.

It could be any wall, any division between people that results in bloodshed and tragedy.

For my friend this was about the Middle-east conflict. I think she (like me) loves this piece but finds it hard to look at/think about.

And the extraordinary things - I do believe that they are possible, but we don't get to pick and choose which extraordinary thing is going to happen. We cannot force things to turn out according to what we think is best, how we would fix the problems. We have to learn to recognize when something extraordinary is looking us right in the face. We have to learn to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, or even in the tragic - the transcendent moments in our mundane lives.