My final collage project: “Action Verbs: A Reflection on Bathroom Activity”
The word is out. Rather, the box. We shipped our last issue of MerriMail last week. I am woefully behind on updating the web site. Anyone that stops by will see that instantly. I am going to update the site. I promise. But it has quite simply fallen into my list of incomplete projects. And now it is time to finish them.
When Eris and I decided to stop doing MerriMail, we agreed to do a final spring issue. She also started a new store. And I committed to my art work. As I mentioned before, I signed up for a class at the Corcoran – Collage with Katie Dell Kaufman. Initially I was surprised at how much mental energy the class took. But part of that was probably how seriously I was taking the class. It was a really big deal to me. I have always wanted to be an artist. And this was my first step. If I failed, I didn’t know where else to go. But how can you really fail at art? It just requires you to show up and work. My goal was to get into the habit of working. In conjunction with the class, I made a vow to myself not to start anything new until May.
I am really good with starting things, but not so good at finishing them. I have known this my entire life. The evidence is found throughout boxes in my parents’ attic and basement. The most blatant example are the 4-H books about photography, cooking and babysitting with completely blank worksheets tucked inside. I never earned a single badge through 4-H. I never completed a project. But I loved 4-H. It was a great social activity for me. And I loved exploring all of the new topics I could learn about. I even loved reading the books. God knows I have a ton of non-fiction books that I can’t resist buying. 4-H was the perfect primer for my love of life-long learning, which was the focus of my four years of graduate work. I probably should have not admitted all of this to my fourth grade teacher when I saw her at Sarah’s shower. Hey, 4-H was not for a grade and I didn’t have any sheep that I was neglecting. I have absolutely no reason to feel any guilt at this point. I know I recycle enough to make up for the lost trees.
While I was in North Carolina for Sarah’s baby shower, I had a really interesting dream. The focus of my dream was the fabric from an apron I had almost bought from Pink Mink on Saturday afternoon. I stood there and looked at it for several minutes. I thought that all of the pockets would be perfect to carry my tools around while I work. Ultimately, I decided to use my gift certificate on a bag of Krankies Coffee instead. I already have an apron and I never wear it. I can’t remember if it has pockets. But I could easily add them.
So there was the fabric in my dream. I was working on an art project. And I was also working on a group project. Someone walked in to discuss what we were doing. I don’t remember anything specific, except that I was working. And I wasn’t working alone. I was part of a community of artists. It was just a regular day of work, just one I have never seen before.
When I woke up and recalled my dream, I realized how significant this dream felt to me. It reminded me of Bill Boles talking about his semester in Mexico. He told us about getting lost and ending up on some ranch. In the end, he said, “You know, I realized I knew the language when I started to dream in Spanish.”
Somehow my little trick had worked. By committing only to very small projects (five hours or less), I somehow shifted my daily work from off of the computer to art related work. I am still feeling my way through what that means, but so far it has felt surprisingly productive despite having any real plan.
Last Friday was my final class and final critique. It went really well, but my head started pounding. It was almost like each idea was being hammered into my head. It was great and I loved the ideas, but I couldn’t follow the final demonstration of how to create image transfers. Maybe the headache came from driving to class, but I had to get home as soon as possible. At my door step, my final MerriMail. What a nice ending to my transitional spring semester. Now on to summer…