Thursday, May 25, 2006

back to the studio door

Liz Berg e-mailed me the other day to say she had finished reading Ted Orland's "The View from the Studio Door" and wondered what had happened to the discussion we had started here about 6 weeks ago. Well, first we had to give people time to get the book and read it. Second, I finally had time to finish it today when I had the LUXURY of sitting in the beauty salon without any distractions. Aaaaah - time for ME! So I fed my soul by finishing the book and making notes. I haven't underlined so much since I was in college - and you don't want to know how long ago THAT was. Liz said she found the book very interesting and thought-provoking (me too), but she says she is still trying to figure out what art-that-matters is. Ted - I like what you say -- "The art will matter when you say something essential about things that you truly care about." On the other hand, how do you know when you are saying something 'essential'? And in fact, just because you truly care about it, why should it matter to anybody else? (Understand that I am playing devil's advocate here). Does this mean that art is art only if it has content? And does the content (overt or not) have to be political or ecological? MUST it make a statement? I can only talk about this subject in terms of my own work, which is about memory and a sense of loss. Personal memory as well as collective memory - which are inseparable in my work and in my frame of reference. While memory and a sense of loss are my themes - and while not always visible, they are always beneath the surface in my owrk - I believe there is something universal there because people have told me how my work has touched them, and those who buy my work are those to whom it has spoken. Not to make this about MY work - I believe it is important for us as artists to know what our work is about. But it takes time, thought, and some self-assessment to see what patterns emerge in our own work as it progresses. Ted -- have your reassessed what matters in your work after having put together the photo album for your son Jon? Has what matters changed? Or are these parallel tracks? What do the rest of you feel about making art that matters? Let's start here.

10 comments:

Shirley Goodwin said...

I haven't read this book, Rayna, as I find in-depth analysis of anything just toooooo many words. But I consider that I make art-that-matters, because it has a meaning for me. It comes from my heart, my memory and my thoughts. Art-that-doesn't-matter is stuff that's thrown together for tourists, for example - made for money alone.

Shirley in New Zealand

cfent said...

o darn. i need to get to work.
i finshed it last week adn yes my copy is as marked up as art adn fear.
looking forward to a discussion......

Karoda said...

I keep promising to get these books...you've made them sound like compelling reads for any artist.

At this point in my process, it matters depending on how I feel while making it. If while making it, I feel liberated and free, it is art that matters, if I feel burdened while making it, it is less engaging and I'm filled with self-doubt, it will matter least to me....its all process and all subjective :)

Rayna said...

Karoda, ain't it the truth! Our work is US and we are our work. I suspect, however, that there are people who can disengage from their lives/emotions while they are working. Anybody out there know this trick?

Ted Orland said...

I’ve always sensed a ring of truth to that folk definition of art as “anything that’s done better than it needs to be”. I love its blanket acceptance of the idea that any facet of our daily life can rise to the level of art. (Think of the continuum from frozen TV dinners to gourmet cooking.)

When you make that added investment of love and care into something you do, it’s a recognition that that something is inherently important to you. At the very least, others who become aware of that added ingredient will look more closely at what you’ve done, perhaps come to understand why it’s important, perhaps even invest your sensibilities into some facet of their own life.

And (to reinforce Shirley’s comment) here’s the amazing thing: all that can unfold perfectly well without any conscious analysis whatsoever by either the maker or the recipient of the work. In understanding art, words art optional.

Ted Orland said...

Sigh. So much for my proofreading skills. That last sentence in the preceding comments box should read:
"In understanding art, words are optional."

Deb H said...

I am still trying to finish up Art & Fear, but in respect to Art mattering, I think it's important to me for my art to matter to me. It would be nice if others 'get it' too, but not essential. Since I do it for my own soul, it's something I NEED to do, it has to matter to me. Everything I do has to have some meaning, I may or may not tell others what the meaning is, sometimes it's private, sometimes it isn't deep, just fun, but I do it for me first. It feeds my soul, & keeps me from going crazy! I'm keeping my day job for now.

lizzieb said...

So, ART-THAT-MATTERS is not about what it says but that it is done the best we can from inside ourselves?

cfent said...

art that matters... how appropriate a topic. i've been making myself totally nuts attmepting to *get ready* to make work 3 weeks from now. hitting the wall hard. until i finally made myself sit down and STOP and BREATHE.
and duh. i don't work that way. never have. what makes me think i will in this situation?
it's an entirely ludicrous thought./
i'm reminding myself that what i/ve been making since the storms has flowed out of me without a conscious effort on my part... has FORCED its way out of me. THAT to me is art that matters.... whether or not it fits someone else's desription of *good art* is irrelevant and in that sense, i have to allow myself to be willing to *fail* by someone else's standards, in order to be true to myself.]

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