Two or three years ago I went to Santa Fe with a friend who is a dancer. We went to the Currents New Media Festival which is about new technology in art. Interestingly there was a person exhibiting whose work had nothing to do with new technology. They wore a jump suit covered in silver glitter and had a mirror strapped to their face. The exhibitor interacted with passers by through movement. He did this while staying on a small platform. My friend walked to the glitter man and they started to move together, taking turns leaning on each other and making different shapes and poses. This was my introduction to contact improv.
Strangely enough, I haven’t really thought about that moment until recently. I drew some pictures of couples together and it reminded my of my friend’s dancing. I started watching a lot of modern dance online and looking at pictures of it. The poses are so strong and the dancers are so impressive.
I miss hugging my friends and being close to them. So to watch people dancing has been very uplifting. And I have thought about different ways of people being together. Sometimes people who are touching can be miles apart. And sometimes people together can make such beautiful forms and show a deep amount of care towards one another. Dance reminds me of this. It’s a testament to the power of physical connection.
I have done some paintings of contact improv. Some poses were borrowed from photos online and some are made up from my head. I don’t know if I’m going to do a longer series with them. It may be that what I have done is like a short story that I will elaborate on in the future.
Sometime in January, my eight year old niece came over to paint. I was thinking I’d give her a lesson by having her paint a vegetable still life. However it turned out that she already knew what she wanted to paint and it was from her head.
My niece’s visit made me think more about where creativity goes. After so much time looking at photos I felt that I lost my ability to imagine. Since that time I have been trying to be more creative.
Reading seems to be helping me. Typically I read non-fiction. However I started reading comic books to see what other artists do and it got me into reading books by Neil Gaiman and now I am onto other fiction writers. It seems like the more I read the more I think creatively.
My niece stayed over for three hours. The time flew by. I think this is what I’m looking for in my own work. The joy. It’s good I had my niece over to remind me what creating is about.
One of the great things about where I’m living is how close it is to DC and DC’s museums. I’ve been making a habit of visiting the National Gallery and the Smithsonian. Additionally I’ve been doing some reading on art history. Mostly, about the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.
The National Gallery had exhibits on photography and on pastel drawing. The photos displayed were a little later then the daguerrotype, discovered in 1939. They were on paper, instead of silver plates. It’s still fun to see all those people in bowler hats and the landscapes that photographers were drawn to. Also interesting to note that several photographers in the show were painters.
The pastels displayed from the end of the 19th century (and a few from the 20th century) and some of the paintings from the museums permanent collection were fun to look at too. And Degas and Manet create such engaging subjects. I’m assuming they used photography. And of course it was fun to see the museum’s permanent collection as well.
I’m not sure how all of this is influencing my art except to say I feel less guilty about using so many photos. I think I will be sticking with portraiture for awhile.
It’s the Small Things That Matter
In the end, it’s the small things that matter
They accumulate like sand on a big beach
Each grain, seemingly inconsequential on its own
but so important for the shape of the full form
You could make a ripple in the ocean with a grain of sand
It’s just like you could change the course of your life with a thought
They both are unseen with the naked eye
But if trained, you can see how one small change can lead in a whole new direction
It’s the small things that matter
Because in the end without the small things there is nothing big to look forward to
God is a foreign concept to me
Yet so close
I pray and I thank the concept
What is the concept?
What is God?
A man? A benevolent force? A creature from the New Testament if you’re christian
Someone or something responsible for everything
So not truly benevolent unless you believe that everything bad is a force called Satan
I don’t know
God is a foreign concept to me
I have not seen or touched it
I have not heard or tasted it
All I have felt is hope in my heart and bones
So I pray
I pray to stoke the fires of my joy, my like force, my optimism
I pray to something I don’t understand
And I wonder if I need to
I stare into my coffee in the morning
Black, then creamy brown
Milky, like a baby’s skin
And all I see is nothing
Not the day before me or the night behind me, but nothing
I sip and taste the slight bitterness and acidity
It heats my chest
that warm nothing
A lazy morning feeling
languid and slow
I take a longer drink and then let the liquid settle
Enjoying the peace and quiet
A song comes on breaking the silence but not ending my quiet feeling
It makes me think of people I love and home
I feel safe
Another sip of coffee
My dog rubs against my leg
I wake up
I finish my coffee and start the day