It all started when Karen Melady and I, as our community arts collective Worth Their Salt, initiated a research and development project by forming a Peer Arts Practice Group. We invited women from various locations in Huron County to join. Six agreed to take part.
With support from Pam Hanington at Rural Response for Healthy Children and funding from Status of Women Canada, we each made our own unique vessel to represent our creative practice with the understanding that strengthening and identifying our practice supports our economic development as artists.
We gathered on a Saturday in April and for two evenings in May. With a variety of materials at hand, we embarked on the building of our vessels.
I started building mine not thinking of size… going with the flow like I often do unconscious of practicalities….
After carrying my unfinished vessel around from one session to the next, I felt like I needed to “get a grip.” It had fallen over a number of times, once while out on the sidewalk waiting to be loaded into the car another time, down the stairs of my studio. Part of me felt that “going with the flow” often got me into impractical situations. My structure was not yet stable, it felt awkward and I was confused about my direction. It needed care. I decided to do some drawing.
As a group we were using Dream Cards by Karen Melady to offer a deeper insight into our process. I chose to draw some of the images on my card in connection to my vessel. I have often felt too impatient to use observational drawing as a part of my process. The slowing down and tuning in to the subjects at hand was clarifying and created connections I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
And at our final session, these images emerged.
It is now July and I am practicing persistence and continuing to build my vessel. I have started making paper. It is something I focussed on early in my art making career and it is fun to do it again. With this process I am giving my form it’s outer and inner skin. It is much more stable. I am still somewhat bewildered about the direction but I am enjoying not knowing the final destination. Perhaps more drawing comes next. This time on the surface of the vessel.
Here in this unfinished state I ask myself, “What does this say about my artistic process?”
I have been going through an intentional process of creating strength and stability in my life as an artist. That fits as I continue to add layers and feel this boat increase in durability and strength.
Sometimes, being an artist feels big and awkward and not always practical. The economic benefit is often not immediately obvious.
But as I say that, I hear myself say, “But you are building a cradle!” There is great potential for life and nourishment here. “Okay, that is true.”
At this point I will say that it is persistence, excitement for the process and enjoying the journey that is keeping my boat afloat. I will continue to clarify and connect while trusting that I am creating nourishment and abundance when I go with the flow.