Looking and Seeing

 

Personal Inquiry:   There is a lot of emphasis placed on getting creative product to market (and these days on finding more creative ways to do that!).  This is especially vital to anyone who has built a livelihood out of art or design.  Of course, everyone has different reasons for making art, but what is at the root?  What was the impulse that informed the choice to create before any thoughts about marketing the work ever entered the equation? To investigate this question for myself more deeply, I must look at the thread of continuity in my work that reaches back to my days as a student of landscape architecture.  It is this thread that I want to tug on and follow to its roots in an effort to bring more clarity to my current work. 

Looking and Seeing.  What I most remember about learning a design discipline was the emphasis on process itself – the attention to, and appreciation of, the steps one climbs in building an aesthetic foundation.  Two practices to which I returned again and again in building this foundation were image-gathering and mark-making: the photographic studies, conceptual diagrams and sketches that served as each project’s well of inspiration.  This was the “looking”: gathering information, objectifying, cataloging, ordering and classifying.  There was also another process occurring at a deeper level, that of “seeing”:  an integrating of outer observation and inner vision.  Ultimately, the images and marks served two discrete processes that would weave together to create a “finished” work.  I felt then, and still feel, that the success of a work depends in large part on the quality of one’s attention at these early stages, chance and serendipity, as they say, “favoring the prepared mind.”

 Observing and Recording.  Bringing it back down into the textile studio (!)…Nuno rusca is a very textural, tactile medium.  One of the first things I feel compelled to do when reintroducing mark-making into my preliminary process is to engage with trees and tree bark and, by extension, anything related to trees and their immediate surroundings.  What I am interested in is a certain intimacy – a conscious act of acquainting myself with the skin of a tree, the crust and chaos of leaf litter, a clump of moss, a bug’s exoskeleton.  These surfaces are portals into a deeper knowing and seeing.  They reveal their secrets one layer at a time, but only upon closer observation.  They are invitations to stop, look, listen, smell, touch and “taste” the meaning of the place and it’s inhabitants.  I consider this intimacy vital to my creative process, the process that will assist me in finding my way back to the Root.

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