T1: MMT; Pt3; Pj 1: further research & reflection

So how do I take this to the edge and then tip it over?

Part of this dis-ease is my awareness of my failings and inadequacies when I look at other textile artists. Their work has a finesse and integrity that seems a distant dream to me at this stage in my studies. I look too at the work of my peers: on MMT and ATV and am left in awe at their skills, clarity of making and technical accomplishments. I cannot see my place here. I lack the surety and internal wholeness that I perceive in their work. I recognise this may be a delusion as my fellow creators all have their own stories and challenges and complexes, anxieties, disillusionments. I am trying to reintegrate a fragmented self. Textiles is my chosen field. It offers me all the off-shoots and dimensions that I need to create along. It can be sculptural, 2 dimensional, utilitarian, abstract, colourful, sombre, predictable and anything other. It feels like a domain that has the best of all the art fields. Sometimes this makes me feel very small. Yet all along is this little tiny voice that nags me to push the boat out further, and a bit further, and further until I cannot see the shores. It is here in this wilderness that I feel safe and free. How do I find this place in my creating?

I have looked at the art works of Jackie Abrams after a timely mention by Edith and noticed that she describes herself as a textile artist, interested in the subject matter of containers, yet her work can vary from the coiled, spun loped works of her ‘Spirit Women’ series – of which I am drawn to ‘the Matriarch’ with its black coils and stones webbed into the construction, its forward-leaning pose and wide stable base; to the skin-like surface of ‘Facets’ and the wire inner structure that recalls the stitching network of ‘Spirit Women’, and on to the collaborative work with glass artist Josh Bernbaum ‘Captured Reflections’ where the copper wire net mimics the wire stitching of the other portfolios and the glass bubbles out of the spaces between. I am not sure whether the glass is blown or another process like that of a Fireworker is used, but the effect is interesting: this is sculpture, wire stitching, glass work, this is a craft being heightened to a piece of ($2000) art. The range for a textile artist is far reaching.

There are other artists creating beautiful refined creations like Rachel Dein, who has transformed plants into plaster impressions of such striking delicacy. Some of these works are handpainted yet each is unique and offers subtle variations. For a series she uses a silicon mould, ‘I enjoy the magic of plaster to create fossils from everyday life.’ Her casting is far more tactile, although the composition is hers, the forms are brought direct from what can be seen. I am interested in showing what is unseen, what can never be seen but is definitely there.

The thing is my inner motivation, my inner wildlife is not refined, not tamed, nor tidy. I can mimic those who create art work in this way, in order to learn technique, but I would be lying to myself…I think. there was a comment on the forum a while back concerning ‘contextualising’. It continues to irk me, but I need more evidence to be heard as a lowly student. The comment that I find blindingly ignorant, and wish Louise Bourgeois was here to back me up is:

‘ your work has to have a relevance to the current state of practice and the current state of the world to mean much to the generality of the art viewing world.  If you only do it to please yourself then it is not much more than therapy and if this suits then fine but it isn’t what a BA in any of the fine arts or design is designed for.’ 

With all these artists creating outstanding pieces that bring the domain into a contemporary art world, make them relevant to ‘the current state of practice’ where next? I’m not creating in the current state as it has already passed. I want to move forward, progress way beyond this boundary and if that means a tumble off the cliff so be it. You have to stop falling when you hit the bottom!

My heart is still with the surface as playground, the textile as stage, but my subject matter seems to be returning to the surface being an inner exploration. Is this just therapy? I think not. Isn’t all art the mining of inner reserves and vision and symbolism and how that projects upon our vision of the world? I think this comment is made in ignorance of neuroscience and psychotherapy.

I need to discover more artists who are working on the very frontier of progressive textiles. I am not interested in improving what is already there – I haven’t the years ahead of me – but I do have an inner world that is mine and can be plundered and restored, I have an inner wilderness that is rich with symbol and significance. We all do. How do I materialise inner meaning in outer form? I think this is a question I could spend my whole life exploring. A poet doesn’t abandon his personal metaphor, he shapes it to become a universal truth. Our inner language is metaphorical. Our experience is universal. It finds a better home in some hearts and minds than others. And if there is no home for me? I’ll just have to keep creating in the hope that at some point the architect will devise that dwelling.





9 thoughts on “T1: MMT; Pt3; Pj 1: further research & reflection

  1. My blood is slowly coming to the boil the more I think about the quote above about “relevance to the current state of practice….blah blah blah”. I’ve soiled my fingers typing it.
    Maybe it’s not such a slow boil!
    Whoever wrote that would have been smugly showing in the Salons, tut-tutting at the Impressionists. Received wisdom regurgitated.

    This morning I’ve been reading about an exhibition that “challenge[s] the status-quo of a capitalist art market which is often driven by male dominated power structures and has a vested interest in maintaining twentieth-century hierarchies”. https://www.facebook.com/events/220361095019157

    Which doesn’t speak to your point about an inner exploration. “Art” isn’t one thing, isn’t a box with boundaries, isn’t a check list. For me art connects – with ideas, with what’s happening in the world, with inner worlds… I expand myself by looking and learning and thinking and doing, and a glimpse into another’s world is a privilege and an opportunity (which I might choose to decline at times). I look selfishly – what speaks to me, what takes me further.

    I study selfishly. I don’t care what a BA is designed for. Who was this great designing authority? If someone else wants to jump through hoops and call it education, they can play their game. I want to learn to enrich my life.

    I also make selfishly. If it’s not meaningful to me in some way, why would I waste my time? I’ve enjoyed MMT because it encourages / empowers me to ask “what if?” and to go on and find out. My curiosity is engaged. You engage differently. That’s exciting.

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    1. I’m so glad I’m not alone in feeling infuriated by this. I do love your comparison, this helps me laugh at the little ness and inadequacy of the original poster’s world.

      What a clear explanation of the role of art in your world – and for me encouraging and heartening to hear. The subject of engagement is fascinating too as we consider ourselves as witnesses of our own and other’s creating. Do you think motives talk through a work? I can sense it in my own making but I wonder how attuned I am to this in my observations of others? I wonder if motive is intention and if that is where I get the initial hook or cold feet?


      1. To an extent I think communication by any channel – art, words, actions… – is fraught. We are a mystery to each other and to ourselves.

        Some works are quite strident. I mostly prefer things with space for me to think in, a conversation not a lecture. It might make communication less exact, but also more meaningful.

        Some works I go back to every few months. I might see something new, something different. Sometimes I remember my thoughts from a previous visit and see myself a bit differently.

        For me motive and intention are different. Maybe they act on different timescales. I think your hook includes a personal connection, a resonance – and similar for Julie. It might make it harder in a course like OCA, sometimes having to wrench requirements around so they make sense in your world. An effort, but as you say below compromise isn’t an option.

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  2. What a pompous and superficial comment from the forum. I agree with both of you – art surely starts with the interior and becomes something which may speak to others or become universal; if the starting point is how to make a name for itself in The Art Scene then it will be hollow and superficial. Lottie please don’t doubt ‘your place here’ – by this very post, you’re asserting exactly why you belong here. I’m sure that the kind of soul-searching that you carry out so fearlessly and the way you dissect all of your experiences and research and make them your own is leading where you want to go.
    Love your definitions and analogies here, Judy, well said!

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    1. It just comes down to truth. I cannot compromise on that. Where that will take me remains to be seen – but I’m glad I can howl here and hear My Family calling back.

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  3. Just catching up with this. I think I’d rather chat with Louise Bourgeois who got that art is personal, is about exploring oneself, is about connecting ideas, is about emotional intensity, than with that poster you mention, Lottie. It seems a foolish position to take; who gets to say what BA art course are ‘designed for’? If I thought that studying with OCA was about me fitting in with someone else’s ‘design’, rather than exploring myself and my ideas, well, I’d pack it in now. In fact, I’ve played a bit fast and loose with some of the briefs and it doesn’t seem to have done me any harm – I’ve found out so much about myself in the last 9 months.I think that what you, Lottie, and you, Julie do is fascinating and exciting – and both of you produce something completely different to me. So, there’s the evidence that it’s about what you find in it, what you make of it, that matters. (This is reminding me of the spat about some people’s work being worthless – the word might have been ‘rubbish’….)

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