Today I had the opportunity to participate in an Open Expressive Arts Studio. I admit, I didn’t know what to expect, but I assure you that in the end it all seemed worth it. I went out of curiosity and out of obligation for a portfolio I need to do. Once there I noticed it was only me and 7 other women. The artisan in charge was a soft-spoken woman with charcoal gray hair and soft brown eyes.
I thought her idea of an open studio was to let us grab something and just do away with our emotions. However, she had something different in mind. The artisan asked us to use a technique where we, as individuals, had to write a purpose for our art and ourselves and in the end we would share not the purpose but the end result of that purpose. I did not like the technique at first because I thought it limited me and my desire to try something new. I wanted to flow; I wanted to tear down any and all notions of beauty, of nature and of work and just create whatever came to me. I quickly realized that I could not flow. That I had been taught what beauty was. I was taught that flowers and skies were the equivalent of spirituality. That people and poses were the equivalent of intellect and talent. In that moment I was grateful I had written down my purpose because that way, whenever I trailed off into the trappings of my scientific and frigid teachings I could remind myself that I was the creator and that all those preconceived ideas of beauty were non-existent.
The artisan told us to choose the medium that spoke to us. I was tired of using paint, since I had been painting the night before. Yet, when I had to reach out for a tool that’s where I first went. I realized that I felt safety in that which I knew. I wanted to paint because I knew how to and I could show off. Another preconceived idea of art. I was being led not by my pleasure but by my pride, by me desire to prove I was the top dog. And Expressive Arts is anything but pride. It is about creating your inner pleasures, your inner thoughts and just exposing them as they are in a non-judgmental environment where people react to your work in a positive way. Not by telling you how to better it but by telling you what caught their eye.
In the end I chose clay. It had been a long time since I worked with clay, and I thought that if I wanted to flow there was no better way. I chose clay because it takes more time, pressure and precision to work. One has to nurture the creation and slowly work it out. In a way I felt like a goddess creating her own human beings. I made sure that every curve and slide was perfect, was smooth and thin. I made spirals, I made valleys, I made caves and I made magic. I made three pieces which I named Desert, Ocean and Bacteria. I will feature a post just for these three works of art. They are unfinished but for now they are perfect.
At the end we were asked to reflect on our pieces. We had to write how we physically felt about our work and if it could talk what would our work say to us. I described my pieces and when it was there turn, they had a conversation with me about what they meant. These pieces and their written work will be featured in another post.
Finally, I have to say that the open studio was a gratifying experience. At first it seemed like a chore. I had been working since 11 and the studio began at 3. I was tired, hungry and cold. However, as our time there came to an end I noticed I had just spent two hours creating art. There were no interruptions, no pressure; just Native flute music, my hands, the clay and my mind. More than that, in that room those seven souls and I danced silently and as our hands moved they weaved magic, they weaved life. Our energies combined with one another so as to create a comfortable atmosphere and a space where art was the purpose but what mattered was the journey.
Signing off, TWS