Wednesday, October 28, 2009

voices

Thanks for all your interesting comments and discussion on my last post. You got me thinking about so many things that I can't even organize what I want to say. I will get to it. Tonight, I am hand-stitching a piece of cloth I printed maybe 4 years ago. It is part of my Poland series; a tribute to the memory of those rescuers - the Righteous who risked their lives to save or hide Jews during the war. I hand wrote as many names as I could fit on the cloth; "ordinary" people who were, in fact, extraordinary, including The Danish People, the entire French village of Le Chambon, and Sempo Sugihara, Japanese Counsul to Lituania. November 15th will be our annual open studios at 66 Franklin St. Last year, I stuck this piece on the wall and two people said that I should let them know when I finished it because they wanted to buy it. I am not sure I want to sell it, but I am going to finish it and gallery-wrap it before the studio tour. If either of them comes back, we'll see. As I have been stitching, I have been thinking that it is recognizable as mine -- my voice, loud and clear. But what does this mean? The processes are not mine: other people make screenprints and write with syringes around and around till they have finished their stories. And other people put hand stitching into their work and gallery-wrap it. True, I own the image, the essay is my stream of consciousness --my words; my hand. But still, what makes it identifiable as mine? What does it mean to find our voices? Sherryl commented... Finding my own voice.... I love that statement. I hate what it stands for. To me, it means that you have so narrowed down what you do that you no longer experiment. I don't agree. Your voice can sing different tunes - but it is still your voice. And it is while you are learning the new melodies -- experimenting -- that you strengthen your voice. I'm working in a different style now, but even within these new pieces, there is something that makes them uniquely mine (or at least I hope so). What is it that makes your work identifiable as yours, despite forays into exerimenting with different materials, palettes, techniques, or mediums?

14 comments:

martha said...

I think our voices are recognizable by the questions we ask, the filters we apply, and of course they change over time as we do.

Diane said...

Ah, that's a very good question Rayna.I believe I am still trying to FIND my voice!

Eva said...

A posting that makes me think! Yes, I do believe that we are most individual when we experiment. These are moments when nobody else can tell us if it is right or wrong what we do; only the artist who looks at his product will have a feeling of success or failure in the process of expressing oneself.
You're alone on this peak. The more experienced ones who could guide us climbed other mountains, not this one.
That's why we do it.

Joyce said...

I think we have a voice when we work even if our work changes. You can show someone exactly how to do something and yet theirs will look different from yours. I think it is sometimes about colour choices...

Sujatha said...

Voices..voices that inspire me, help me express myself, guide me....

Vivien said...

I'm still trying to find my artistic voice, but I can tell you what I think it means. Personally, I think YOU have a strong artistic voice. It's in the cadence of your work, the combination of artistic phrases, that makes your work uniquely yours and identifiable as such. No one combines technique and color in the same way that you do, in the same way that no one will compose a paragraph the same way you do. For lack of a better word -- it's style. I don't think any two people can pull things together in the same way .. it's "just" a matter of finding our own authentic way to do so.

Whew, that's a lot of words ... but did I make any sense or say anything substantive? I dont' know. All I can say is that I'm trying to convey what's in my gut and I think that's true for artistic voices, too.

kathy said...

As a hand dyer of cloth, I notice that everyone's hand dyed cloth even looks different! It seems amazing that one basic "technique" can still look different when different people employ it. I guess that's the "you" factor. Same with art.

Vivian Helena said...

It was comforting to know others are sometimes at the same crossroads, with finding their art voice. I love all techniques, and my art with gourds, fiber & mixed media, jewelry & photography. I have looked a long time for a connecting thread.. That is what galleries demand of us.. this is one of my frustrations.I enjoy reading and seeing what you are working on.. I have a tub full of goodies that I am collecting to paint/stamp with over the fabric I have hand dyed. I love the variety.

Eva said...

Oh, I forgot. My idea of finding my voice has to do with forgetting about originality altogether. Because when I try to be unique, I lose contact with this voice, and end up in mainstream.

Aleeda said...

I agree with Kathy. What makes it your voice is all that you bring to the piece. Hand dyeing is an excellent example, but I've sat in other classes, and just by the choices I've made in fabric, color or layout, or something makes mine definitively....MINE. It's why I never hesitate to share a technique with someone. Of course your voice is changing, because YOU are changing. To quote Octavia Butler: "All you touch, you change. All you change, changes you." I hope my voice continues to evolve, refine and redefine itself.

Aleeda said...

P.S. I love the Pink Polish Piece, :-) It is most assuredly identifiable as you in the simple telling of how you came to create it.

imquilternity said...

Would not "voice" be able to be defined somewhat more simplistically as "style?"

Del said...

I am amazed when someone says they knew a certain piece is mine, before they know who made it. I don't think I have a style (or a voice) and I am not trying to have either. Because I look at a lot of art quilts I can identify many artist's work, but I can't actually describe what it is that tells me who made it. Maybe instead of having a "voice" I have an "ear"! Can't be an "eye", that doesn't go with "voice". Del

Sandy said...

Finding Your Voice happens when you do your *authentic* work, tell your own truths. It may come naturally, it may take years to plow through the detrius to reach where you need to be, It doesn't have anything to do with experimenting or exploring with technique or materials, because that never has to stop, but it does have to do with being confident to dig into your Self to reach those stories that make your existence so different from anyone else's. Yea Rayna!