faith&foolishness

art.faith.culture.community

Posts Tagged ‘art-making’

An Alternative to Solitary Genius, part 1

Posted by Sarah Jane on November 8, 2009

Over the past couple of years, my artistic process has increasingly involved collaboration. Sometimes I’ve worked with other artists, but most often I have worked alongside friends and family members: people who are deeply invested in me and in my work, but who would not ordinarily identify as artists. And I’ve struggled for a while to give words to the deep rightness I sense in collaborating with non-artists — a significance that goes beyond the simple pleasure of doing something I love in the presence of people I love.

I’ve long been bothered by the specialization of art — the notion that only a chosen few should have the power to create objects and meaning, and that their efforts should be appreciated and interpreted by a similarly-elite class of curators and critics. And what happens beyond this charmed circle who have been initiated into the complex code of contemporary visual meaning? We don’t know, and we don’t care, the contemporary art world seems to say.

So cheerfully inviting non-artists into the artistic process is a satisfyingly concrete rebuttal to the image of the solitary artistic genius. The work we produce is no longer the product of my own genius (if I do possess any genius, it hasn’t surfaced yet), but of relationship and cooperation. And the art itself no longer belongs to the cloistered elite, but to the whole of the community — to the critics, yes, but equally to the priests and students and farmers and auto mechanics.

That, to me, is art worth making.

Coming soon: thoughts on the difference between excellence and elitism — does accessibility come only at the expense of quality?

Advertisements

Posted in art, community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Possibility of All Things

Posted by Sarah Jane on November 5, 2009

I’ve had four solo exhibits in the past 18 months — lots of time spent making art, very little time for thinking. We finish installing the fourth exhibit this coming Monday, and after that there are only a couple of commission projects still on the horizon. And so the unknown yawns ahead in a spreading void; inhabited only by the possibility of all things.

I’ve been looking forward to it. This is, for me, the most mysterious part of the artistic process — the unstructured time of waiting, watching, and listening that must always precede the time of making. New ideas require empty time and open space to take on form and life. And so I wait.

Stephen Cottrell describes the act of waiting as “not a waste of time but, as we see in nature, a time of change, growth and transformation.”* For artists — perhaps for all of us — the discipline of waiting is an opportunity to participate in the Spirit’s creative movement over the face of the deep; to listen in anticipation for the sacred Word that speaks all things into being. In waiting, we embody not the creating Spirit, but the boundless void itself: a wide, expectant womb in which the unknown and formless can be made flesh.

I don’t know what comes next. I am staring into the possibility of all things. And I am waiting.

*”Rediscover the benefits of waiting this Advent,” The Church of England, 24 November, 2008. Those at Asbury will recognize this as one of the central ideas behind my recent “Breath” installation.

Posted in art, faith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »