Word Girl Meets Visual World – Finale

A person who forgoes the use of his symbolic skills is never really free.
Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiFlow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1990

For my final attempt to fulfill the “Winter Silence” challenge, I decided to return to a medium and technique with which I was already familiar – bead applique.  Now, if you have difficulty imagining me sitting, quietly, for hours on end wielding a needle and thread, you’re probably not alone.  But you’ve probably never seen me around beads.  “Winter Silence” took many hours, and in the week leading up to Art Day I beaded until my fingers bled (from sticking myself with the beading needle when I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open).

Winter Silence: Third and final piece

While the photos don’t fully capture the final piece (which is framed, making it difficult for a novice like me to photograph), I loved the final product.  Why?  First, because it conveyed the theme without words.  Second, because it does so without being directly representational.  Third, because I envisioned this scene in my mind and the end result is not too different from the original conception.

Imagine show and tell on the second Art Day…each person unveiling their attempt(s) to create something within specific parameters, using a specific set of objects.  Each person brought completely different projects to the table. Stephanie’s son commented that hers looked less like “Winter Silence” than like “Winter Slaps You in the Face”, but I loved seeing them all individually, and their diversity as a set.

We have now had five Art Days.  Each day, each project, has been different.  Each of us is developing a small collection of challenge pieces.  One Art Day was devoted entirely to stained glass projects, Paula’s forte.  The most recent saw us all arrive with so many supplies that they took multiple trips from car to house to get everything into the work room.  We still laugh a lot, and talk, but there is a lot more actual work getting done, too.

So, why have I taken three posts to share the story of Art Day and my recent efforts to explore a more visual form of expression?  On one level, it is a way of honoring the experience and the wonderful women with whom I have shared it.  On another level, though, I want to share an experience I am growing from.  Like many people, I suspect, I am reluctant to try new things unless there is a certain level of success guaranteed. I avoid situations in which I feel or look foolish.  Which, for most of us, is what happens when we try something we’ve never really done before.

Art Day has helped me keep at it, learn how to play without undue emphasis on the end result, to compare and contrast my work with someone else’s without a need for ranking the results. I am learning to communicate in actual images rather than verbal imagery. And the sheer fun and concentrated effort required to create is truly a joyful discovery.  Art, and as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, a joyful life “is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.”  In other words, living life is an art: our time, energy, activity and emotion are the media we have to work with. And in order to live fully, we have to stop waiting for only those things we can do perfectly from the start.  Risking being an amateur or a failure or a fool…that’s how we work our way through to the joy.

3 thoughts on “Word Girl Meets Visual World – Finale

  1. Jen – absolutely LOVED the 3 parts . . . and that BEAUTIFUL foto of your lovely parents! Keep it up!

    Love, Your lovely parents

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