Posted on January 02 2016
At the start of a new year, it's natural to become reflective, right? I went to my blog to satisfy these retrospective hankerings only to discover that I wrote one post for all of 2015. One post! I'm so disappointed about this because 2015 has been one of the most eventful years of my life. Traveling to far off destinations, adding to our family, and making changes to my artwork and creative process all were vital parts of this year, and I didn't write down one bit of it. Well, that's about to change. So here's my summary of 2015.
After a few shows near the beginning of the year, my gallery director and I had a lengthy discussion about my work and its direction. He believed I needed to change it up, and I honestly agreed. My process had started to feel stale, and I didn't feel as invigorated by it as I had the previous year. Although my director made a few suggestions, I ultimately discarded all of them because I knew what I really wanted to try. I dreamt of my work becoming more complicated, more delicate, and even more intricate than ever. These were my first experiments:
The new pieces involved a lot of layers of cut paper and consequently took a lot of time. Each artwork boasts at least three layers a piece, each cut by hand. Comprising all of the self-doubt and questioning that typically accompanies any new endeavor, the unfamiliar process was challenging, especially since I abandoned my usual patterns for more organic, less structured shapes. I had ventured into new territory. What also made it extra arduous was the stomach-turning nausea that unfortunately accompanies the first trimester of pregnancy.
Yep, that's right, I was pregnant. Still am, actually. Our official due date is next week, and the baby could come at any time. It's so nerve-racking! While I was making these artworks though, our due date was far off in the future. Yet, there still existed a lot of anxiety as I wondered about how this baby was going to change my husband's and my life. How would I continue my art career? Would I ever sleep again? Was I too selfish to be a mom?
These questions make it seem like all I did was agonize over our choice to start our family, but I promise the decision also brought a lot of serenity and joy. Fear certainly possesses the power to crowd out all those positive emotions, and I've flip-flopped between anxiety and excitement a lot during the past nine months. Fortunately, reading about other artist-moms' experiences has helped calm my worries. And then feeling my baby move and kick and punch (and whatever else she's been doing in there. Sometimes I have no idea) has engendered emotions I have never felt until now. It's incredible how one can already love someone so dearly without even seeing what he or she looks like. Ultimately, artist Keri Smith summed up my feelings best in a blog post on being a creative mom. She said, "For me it came down to a question. Not “Will I have a child and still be able to create?”, but instead, “Can I live with not having had that experience in my life?” and for me the answer was “no”." I reached the same conclusion, and I believe the rest will work itself out (probably through a lot of trial and error). I know being a mother and being an artist are both important enough to me that I can and will find a way to be both. I just don't know the details yet. If anyone has already figured all this out, please feel free to email me what has worked for you!
Yes, I believe the focus on upcoming motherhood has influenced my art this year. Each of the pieces I've created since seeing that little plus sign on the pregnancy test possess a more... spiritual element than my previous work. I find myself growing more fascinated by bridges or crossroads between spiritual and temporal spaces, or at least the concept of them. Those intersections are the central ideals behind the art I shared above.
Traveling to Europe twice over the summer only increased that fascination. The first trip was to France, the second to Italy. Visiting cathedrals and studying how artists created a sense of holiness--not even in a strictly religious sense, but also in a very general way that I think reaches beyond a specific set of beliefs--deeply impacted me. I love that artists and handmade craft can do that to a visitor like me, that I can feel something sacred just from the overwhelming work of their hands.
These themes definitely made an appearance in a new series titled Sanctum. To me the influence from Europe and its chapels is unmistakable, but maybe that's just because I made it.
These new artworks occasionally tried my patience (and they definitely stressed out my framer!). I used very thin rice paper for both the forest prints and the white layers. Working with such delicate paper proved challenging, but I was too in love with the texture it added to the artwork to change my materials. After completing each piece, I was so happy with the result that I'm wholly relieved I stuck with the rice paper. Due to its thinness the white is slightly transparent, a characteristic I just adore. Overall, I'm very content with these two.
For an entirely different series, Veils, I also found inspiration from Europe. In Venice, Italy I kept seeing these strange statues and busts that had turned partly black. The aesthetic result was so intriguing to me, that I decided to create a whole set of artworks around it. Here's the result:
After writing it all down, I'm realizing all over again that 2015 was a substantial year. I'm excited to see what 2016 brings to both my personal life and my art life. Inseparably connected, one won't change without the other, and I find that pretty exhilarating.