Where did it all begin? I could say, when my mom put a crayon in one of my hands, and a cookie in the other (so I wouldn't eat the crayon). I can't remember a time in my life that I didn't love to create, with whatever was around- fabric, sticks, clay, sand...
What I really love about being an artist, though, is the improvisation: starting with nothing, and doing SOMETHING, having no idea where that line, or form, or color will take me, but also knowing that mistakes don't exist in my art, and that I will ride out whatever happens, through the ugliness, the doubts, and the discoveries, until something completely unexpected emerges! Then I have the pleasure, the sheer delight, the tickling surprise of staring back at something I never could have imagined or planned at the onset.
And THAT began at least 15 years ago when I made a deal with myself that I'd never give up on a piece, it could transform as much as necessary, until it found a form that worked, even if that process included cutting it up and reassembling it or burning it and recording it, but no crumpled up art in the waste basket! No mistakes. Just whatever there is, and whatever can happen next.
This is an example of one of my improvisations. If you look just a little northwest of the center of the image, you'll see an abstract colored shape nested around the forehead and braids of the ocean. That was the origin of this drawing. I was on a plane, flying back from Israel, with my paper and colored pencils, and pens, and I made that shape. I don't remember the exact order of everything that happened next (this was in 2003) but I know that as I drew, the experiences that I'd just had, moved through me, into this story and image. So, I'll tell you a little bit about it:
I remember seeing this wall out in the water, immense, yards thick, made of stone, and just this little part of it was left, the rest having been, I imagined, washed away by the sea. That trip was one of many experiences where I've been disturbed by the boundaries we humans put between us, lines on maps, fences, designations by race, religion, gender, economics. I've seen it in the borders between countries, and around reservations in the United States, I've seen it in the groups of kids and teenagers who separate themselves into categories outside of their schools, the list goes on, and I'm sure you have your own examples. It occurs to me like an amputated humanity, a painful and agreed upon separation between self and self.
So, as I was musing over this on the airplane, I drew. I placed all of these amazing things we've created in our civilizations on top of a wall, and they're burning: the planes, the apartment buildings, the teepees, the columns, the stoplights... because ultimately it's all built upon an amputated humanity.
The thing is, I'm an optimist at heart, so I saw too, that every wall, can be worn down, and destroyed, and there will be someone, some refugee from the world of separation that we've created, to take a little treasure box, out into the world to try again. Maybe she'll build a world, or find one, where humanity knows itself as oneself, and we care for each other without consideration of whether we are in the same tribe, religion, nation, group, or family. Or maybe the treasure box is Pandora's box...
And in all of my images, there are some surprises I myself can't even fully sum up and justify: perhaps the kites fly as a reminder not to take it all so seriously, that it might not be so hard to dissolve walls between humans; sometimes it can be as simple as sharing the experience of flying a kite, or the common inquiry into the divine... I'm pretty sure that's what the eye in the sky is about.
There is so much room for exploration and inquiry within my improvisations. You can play with the fire and water imagery, the breath of the ocean, the sunset (or sunrise?). I love hearing what discoveries other people make out of what spills from my hands and mind, from who knows where exactly. There are connections I can't see myself, thoughts I can't generate from my own mind.
So, I hope that sharing my work here will be the origin of something even greater, that once again, I can't see from the beginning: a new improvisation- a collaboration! This is the origin of my new project, where the images I create are just the beginning of what we (that includes you, dear reader) might create together, when we dissolve the walls between artist and art viewer.
So, please, leave a comment! Share what you see in my art or my writing (it's very likely that I haven't seen it yet), share a poem, a story, a thought, share another image! Share what you want me to start a new creation with (I really might do it), share what you want to create, or what you are creating! Come play with me! Collaborate, co-create, originate!