I have a deep respect for art and artists. I don’t always understand art. And I often suspect the artist’s statement of meaning is the result of either drug induced Burning Man shenanigans or a calculated effort to completely befuddle the public. Either way, that’s their prerogative. And personal prerogative is the crux of art.
I was about 30 before I could self-identify as an artist without internally berating myself. Friends, colleagues, and professors all made the conclusion and weren’t shy about letting me know. For the longest time, I just couldn’t get past an upbringing that did not value art and artists. I’m glad to announce I can now proudly say that I am an artist. I work with words, photography, and multimedia sculpture featuring origami.
I have an amazing respect for traditional artists. Those that draw, paint, sculpt, and photograph, among other things absolutely astound me. I don’t have those skills, besides photography. Yet. When I see a photo realistic drawing it blows my mind. I know enough to see how much loving devotion goes into that work. A friend of mine, artist Mitra Cline, is a wonderful painter. I’ve been privileged to get cozy in a chair and watch her work on large format paintings. I watch her go into the place inside herself where her art lives. There’s this feeling I get when I’m working on art and can see all the pieces falling into place. Some would call it being in the zone. For me, it feels like comforting stillness. It’s a variety of calm that I don’t experience in my daily existence.
But I really love unexpected art. Multimedia, graffiti, and graphic novels are catching and holding my attention these days. To my way of thinking, multimedia art involves more than hot gluing — I have a deep and abiding hatred of hot glue incidentally — a bunch of thrift store junk together. It takes a narrative voice. It’s an ability to transfer the story in your head into a piece of art in a way that any person, not just an art enthusiast or critic, can read the story. But, instead of using paint, you get to use whatever random and wonderful object appeals to you.
It’s difficult to articulate how I choose materials for my origami pieces. It’s intuitive. There’s a store in Santa Barbara, Art from Scrap, that sells only reuse materials. I love to shop there because I primarily use recycled goods in my art. I walk through the dimly lit store, energized by the heaping barrels of this and tiny baskets of that. I touch everything to feel the weight, texture, flexibility, and beauty. Something will catch my eye and I’ll get a surge of excitement from pinning down my prey. I may not use this treasure this season or even for an origami project but it will be added to my collection of fabulous little things. Maybe it will become the next origami masterpiece or perhaps it will end up with googly eyes and a drawn on grin to antagonize my very serious Mini-me. Either way, it’s become a part of me and I won’t forget it.
Recently a close friend sent me a care package. Her father-in-law runs a business selling miniatures and was about to begin selling high-end glitter as well. She sent me a package of charming tiny bottles of what I suspect was very expensive glitter and a few packages of teeny mushrooms. Her thought was that I could use these gifts to make something interesting. I was at a complete loss. I couldn’t figure out what the hell to do with mushrooms and glitter. I have to admit that I’m not typically a glitter fan. I never quite know what to do with it. And it gets all over everything. Three years from now, someone will notice that I have glitter stuck to my face.
During a routine trip to the hardware store, inspiration struck. I found itty-bitty terra cotta pots that I can only describe as completely freaking adorable. And I came across some natural sponge in the painting department. The only challenge was how to make the glitter stick. Now, when you work in multimedia and need something to stick there are lots of options. But there’s one that is far superior to any glue. It’s called Mod Podge. The bearded gentleman and I have a running joke because I, like everyone else on earth, pronounce it modge podge. He finds this offensive for reasons that are beyond me so I try my best to say it correctly and giggle afterward. To solve the glitter dilemma, I turned to my dear friend Mod Podge and its trusty brother Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer.
My brain was swimming with Alice In Wonderland landscapes, neatly potted for a hip, urban apartment. And with an important warning: “Don’t eat the ‘shrooms”. I’m happy with the result. They make me giggle just a little which, in my book, is a sign of success.