Friday, February 24, 2017

I titled it "Spending Time"

Today I read a conversation between artists David Horvitz and Alexandar Provan wherein the topics of time and space - as delineated by modern society - are challenged or re-explored so as to perhaps find oneself unconfined by the ideas.  After all, we can mostly all agree that time and spacial organization are tools that we've devised to organize ourselves and do not actually exist apart from our mutual understanding and agreement.  There was a time (haha) when we knew approximately what time it was simply by the appearance of a star on the horizon line or by a cast shadow.  In that era, intuition and the reflexive "body clock" were still of great relevance compared to modern life - wherein we stay up all night working because the deadline is tomorrow and we need global synchronicity (ie: working simultaneously with partners in Japan) to stay ahead (of?).  Yikes!  Always trying to get ahead.  The "keeping up with the Jones" theory morphs into global competition.  What a huge drag!  How completely exhausting!
This Victorian era "clock" designed to tell time based on the moments in the day when flowers bloom should give a lift after that depressing thought:
Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus proposed use of this time keeping device in Philosophia Botanica (1751)
All that to bring up what I thought as I was reading about the irrelevance or pliability of time and space - two things: 1. I've recently learned the technique of transcendental meditation which seems to exist in a space of no time and 2. I titled my first cross stitch double portrait of myself and husband "Spending Time" - more on that....

The experience of transcendental meditation has been somewhat miraculous to me in that I haven't ever felt the way I feel while practicing this meditation.  All other types of meditation have left me feeling frustrated and wondering if "it's working" or if I'm really doing anything to help my most basic anxieties.  This technique seems to do as it's named, transcend.  I actually don't experience time (even though my thoughts are going on and on just as "normal"). Instead, there's this inexplicable experience of all and none, here and nowhere, now and forever.  I have a short, set amount of time that I'm shooting for to spend meditating and it's important that I don't meditate all day, but the precision of time just doesn't matter.  It's the activity that takes precedence and must be repeated twice daily along the rise and fall of my typical human energy levels and moods.

The more personal realization of how I work on my artwork as a timeless technique came to mind as well.  I'm currently working on the 2nd (of what may be a series of) cross stitch double portraits of myself and my husband.  There are almost 41,000 stitches equaling the number of pixels in the 10" x 16" photograph I am reproducing.  When I did the first one, titled "Spending Time," I approached it much like the honoring meditations of my repetitive artworks before it.  Spend a lot of time working on it through a repeated action, practice precision and contemplate the work as it slowly evolves however sometimes frustrating or other times freeing.  To me, this idea correlated with my understanding of myself in a long-term (marriage) relationship.  However sometimes freeing or other times frustrating, it's all time, spending time, it's an accumulation of everything all intermingled together into one big jumble of "us."  And then, there's the "no time."  I'm reminded of the buddhist "no mind." There's also the "no us" and the "no me."  The slowness of making my art also flies in the face of contemporary art making practices which run along the same rat race (art market) as the rest of our capitalism based self making.  I realize that I am just NOT cut out for that race.  So, as long as there is "no time" and  I'm "spending time" I'll be taking care of the otherworld, perhaps the neitherworld (like Horvitz captures) of the Art world.
Working on my self.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Donald Trump is the American President. I am an American.

The feelings I have about being an American have been polluted since I started voting at 18.  I remember the responsibility I felt toward choosing the best candidate for any office and then the immediate feelings of hopelessness as the more I investigated, the more impossible it felt to choose the right candidate.  And then, Barack Obama came along.  I felt that my moral upbringing, which was my compass for better or for ignorance, was finally matched with a moral, ethical, candidate of integrity.

And now, in a backlash of American ignorance to which I was truly heretofore ignorant, we have a president in office who totally ignores morality, ethics and seems to lack basic human integrity, decency, kindness, patience, and really every single positive human trait that I can think of.  These prominent publications reflect my position of frustration and deflation:
...and though I would never go so far as to put a cross-hair symbol on someone's head, I appreciate the bold honesty of these media organizations.  It seems in some ways that the media may actually be appealing to me (and I was beginning to believe that might not be possible).

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Art and practice.

Speaking of books, another book I have been reading is Buddha mind in contemporary Art, a collection of essays and interviews regarding the relationship of Buddhism to art making and artworks.  There are so many valuable and inspiring commentaries by artists, critics, curators, and just art "people "in this book that it is difficult to choose one idea to share here.  I picked up the book because of a curator I liked - a few of his writings I'd read just rang true to me.  I've  always been interested in Buddhism, so this book has proven inspiring to me as it addresses, from various points of view, the  remarkable similarity between mindfulness practice and art making.

When I was in college, I studied printmaking and fiber arts as I was magnetically pulled toward those  repetitive disciplines.   Much like my love for running as exercise, hiking, and other sustained, contemplative activities, I was unaware of how my art-making resembled mindfulness practice and pointed to my essential desire to create space in my own mind and cultivate the mental state of flow.

 Upon introduction to meditation technique, I realized my art making was so similar. I also realized my art making could provide context and  inspiration for mindfulness as the end result is a product that continues to exist beyond my own contemplative practice. So I started to make  art, however sophomorically, that pointed toward these ideas I was learning in a novice Buddhist study.  I still love many of those well intentioned works.

In my recent years of having stepped away from the art community, I find (through reading, art making and learning new art 'languages' such as piano and Spanish),  that my mindfulness practice is stronger and more important to me than ever.  As a student, I was not fully aware of the potential for mindfulness practice in my art making, but over time I see there is always an unfolding realization of this essential aspect of my work.   Perhaps the only purpose of art making for me is to cultivate and present the possibility for mindful living.
Current progress in my time of slow contemplation of my marriage, the "spending time" that is "us" and that unequivocally builds my awareness for our growth (with all it's rises and pitfalls) as partners.