The creative process is full of stuff that doesn’t seem to fit together – at first. Often when our brain is truly at work we find ourselves in an alphabet soup of ideas and what appears to be random thoughts. Our left brain goes to work immediately trying to figure out where all these things go and how it all fits together. In other words the mind wants to make sense out of what is happening in its own thinking. This is how we learn. We love this activity particularly when it is something that begins to make sense to us.
Well, there are a lot of ways sense is made. There are many different ways of sense making. For example when some of us listen to some music we will find patterns of notes that feel right or suggest a feeling, spark a memory. Visual art is no different. We intuitively look for color, pattern, shape, line, or a subject we can relate to. Or at least we want to see something that challenges us to find a connection between our existence and the world in which the artist lives.
This is tough going in a world where our attention is constantly and repeatedly being split. It is difficult enough to hear a little of what we are thinking let alone understanding the evolving world around us. We often are worried about “getting it” or getting it right, having the right answer, being “in the know”. And there is plenty of stuff we should get – like how to ride a bike, drive a car, or find the bus stop if we’re not walking. It helps to know how e-mail works or how to comfort a friend. And there is a lot of stuff that remains mysterious and little known.
Art, music, poetry, direct observation and intimate conversation all nudge us in the direction of feeling more comfortable with the discomfort we all feel in a world that seems to be transforming itself faster than we can live our days and catch up on our sleep. Putting the pieces together isn’t about getting everything to make sense. The process of fitting all our little pieces together takes a life time of asking our own questions in every situation that provides the opportunity. Listening to yourself also is a big help.
(This image is from one of our projects in which two large scale mosaics made of thousands of pieces of stained glass tessera. The mosaics were designed and constructed by elementary school students over the course of a school year. The theme of this mosaic is “Nature as Teacher”. Here the main motifs are being laid out on the substrate before adhesion.)