Monday, October 11, 2010
Many times I have said I wish I had a "style" I don't know how to do that- have a signature 'style.'
Am I contemporary? Maybe. But not stark contemporary or crazy contemporary- no I definetely have paremeters. Certainly I am not traditional- all the traditional people assure me of this and then politely ask me to move along. I might be alittle bit folksy which should really fight with the contemporary- oh hell, I like it all- but...what defines me and this elusive 'style' I covet?
I like contemporary because it explores relationships of color and texture and shape. Beauty occurs in moments, I believe. Sunlight coming through the back of a leaf creating a color somewhere between pink and orange- a color I would have thought impossible to create and more impossible to define with a name. When the wind blows across the tall grass in the field behind my house I'm reminded that texture is three dimensional shapes fighting for space to exist within. I think we all know that one of my favorite shapes is the sweet full curve of my daughter cheek. I wish everyone could see the world the I do, the way that artists do. Its no wonder we can't concentrate long enough to write the checks that pay the bills that keep my daughter's cheek from turning blue.
So I had a break through recently. Amidst a few breakdowns- as you all have been witness to. A moment I fought for, carved out of the chaos of everyday schedules, obligations and unruly interruptions.
Big little lady has just been hanging around, gathering dust, shouting at me when I dare glance at her. She wants some way to express her purpose. She's not just a pretty face- she has a message, she has a soul. But as I did not give her lungs or a voice box she's in need of a different form of expression and folks- its all about her attire. I mean- come on' if your going to be 57" tall and not be naked well then we have to do something with the outfit. But what? Just make it pretty? She is 'just a girl' after all? But are any of us 'just a girl?' Oh, no, there's a lot that goes into our recipe. Rosemary and sage and a pinch of cayenne, courage and empathy and hope and a pinch of wisdom- they are all simmering below our surface, behind our eyes.
I have the good fortune of having a large source of art resources. I teach as an adjunct at Kendall College of Art and Design. I can visit their library and find new and old books about any subject. In the last few weeks a tiny voice has been telling me to find the books about pattern- particularly folk art pattern, maybe of Swedish influence, maybe Art Nouveau? I didn't know what but I thought I'd find some tiny seed of inspiration in those rows of books!
I found more than a seed, I found the bean stalk. I went through the folk art patterns really quickly- not 'elegant' enough- the image of what I wanted to do with Big Little Lady still foggy. I found the Art Nouveau books, the same ones I had referenced years ago when I was force to write a paper about a period in art history. Actually, I was intimidated by the fussiness of the style and went to Art Deco instead- not as difficult to describe for someone who is really not interested in history- at all. But, back to Art Nouveau- as I flipped through the books this time I felt an immediate kinship. I was home now.
Art Nouveau is not about straight lines. If there is a 'line' at all it is bent and curved and exaggerated. Something I have a tendency to do with anything that I can bend. I was a florist, once, and used to love the way the stems reached for the sun- some straight and strong- others delicately curved but determined none the less, for their place in the sun. When I paint, I curve lines, when I sculpt I am always concerned with creating a line- reaching out into the negative space and capturing shape. I judge cars only by their shape, its really all I can see about them. To me a curved line indicates a certain strength, a right of being, survival really, those that don't bend snap. Think of a line of trees by the edge of a field and how the constant wind pushing at them has shaped them all similarly- a battle between forces, the need to grow despite adversity. The curved line is very symbolic to me yet beautiful and elegant in its existence.
You know how sometimes you are not ready to hear a message? Well in my twenties I was not sure of who I was. I couldn't see past all that fussiness (check out that architecture- Antonio Guaudi- you'll know what I mean) and was intimidated. Who did I think I was? What right did I have to immerse myself in all that- I couldn't breathe. But I'm older now. I get it. I know who I am. Now when I looked at these books I didn't see stifling fussiness but rather a joyous celebration of what is. I get what they see, I see it too. Beauty is in everything. And beauty should be exposed and glorified. We only have one life, one planet to enjoy- lets not waste it wandering around in a state of self inflicted unawareness.
Am I only about the curved line and the exaggerated shape? Not even a little bit. There's still color, glorious color. I still love- well just about everything I did before. But now I have a defined platform to work from- I'm Art Nouveau- ish! I can blend that Art Nouveau tendency with my other loves and finally create an expression of my style. I might be on to something here, folks! I can finally answer that question- just who is this unusual girl named Christine? Well- for one thing- her style leans towards the Art Nouveau.....ish.
Wish me luck!