Thursday, April 11, 2019

I'm Cleaning

I'm cleaning my brain. - Talking Heads Artists Only
I really love going to art openings. No. Wait. Check that. I really love going to my younger brother's art openings. It's not just the freshly baked cookies. It's not the cubes of cheese which can be eaten with those colorful toothpicks. Often there is bubbly water. All of which makes for a very convivial occasion, strolling about the gallery with a little plate and a napkin, snacking as I move thoughtfully through the collected works.
And there is collage.
This is not a regular feature at all art openings. But it is at my younger brother's art openings. After a few cheese cubes and maybe a sip or two of bubbly water, I am ready to sit down at the table filled with scraps of paper, scissors and glue sticks. Of course I have spent a good amount of time viewing and taking in the art that was prepared for the show, but then my mind begins to wander. What sort of creation can I contribute to this endeavor?
Sometimes I work narratively, picking words and phrases from magazines and advertisements. Sometimes I work on a more abstract level, preferring texture and shape to pre-packaged images. Sometimes I know exactly how things will come together once I begin to glue them down. Sometimes I have no idea but instead I trust that what I cut will all come together.
All the time I have fun doing it. Mostly because it reminds me of all the art I have done in classrooms and elsewhere. Cutting and pasting is very therapeutic and brings a flood of childhood memories. When I was in elementary school, I had an art teacher, Ms. Kunesh, who admonished me in third grade to learn how to handle my scissors "like a grown up." This criticism didn't land as a put down, but rather as encouragement. I learned to make long, decisive cuts, rather than those tentative little chops I was making. I learned to do the same things with my lines as I drew. Confidence was key. Even when I made a mistake, Ms. Kunesh reminded us to use them, I did it with confidence. No one else need know that you didn't want that big gray streak through the middle of the picture. Maybe you were after something a little postmodern when you let the glue drip down beneath the blue spiral.
So there I sat, surrounded by art, and feeling those spirits of the past moving through me. I had another cube of cheese and started a new creation.

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