Monday, July 9, 2012

Theme & Variations


1.

As a result of the recent rearrangement of my studio, I had to unpack, assess and find improved storage space for all the tools of my trades, from books and papers connected to my writing life, to supplies for my sideline as a seasonal creator of alpaca fiber accessories, to the machines and implements that assist me in the production of printed versions of my photographs. I’m happy to say that everything now has its proper place, no one’s feelings have been hurt by being overlooked or undervalued, and in fact, in the midst of reorganizing, two items in particular found themselves in conversation, and an irresistible subject.

 2.

The process of finding room for three distinct but related activities got me thinking about the connections and differences between the things I do to express myself. I’ve written here before about how working with fiber gives me a chance to explore color relationships that I don’t seem to require or desire in my work with photography, and how, even though I often seem to prefer capturing images wordlessly, or playing with words strictly linguistically, I sometimes can’t resist attaching phrases to my photos, or using photos to illustrate my text. My disciplines remind me of siblings who sometimes can’t get enough of each other, and other times can’t wait to get away from each other, and only an outside observer can recognize that they are far more alike than different, and whatever their differences, bound together for life.

 3.

I’d like to think I’ve created enough of a signature style as an artist that the themes appearing in my writing are also evident in my photography. I believe that the desire and too often failure to reach out and connect is one of my greatest personal concerns and drives, and shows up as a recurrent theme in all my work. Hands are the ultimate symbol of reaching out to connect. I use my hands in all that I do – they hold the pen, they work the crochet needle, they cradle the camera. They become restless when left idle. They constantly seek out other hands, shoulders, cheeks, in their uninhibited impulse to connect with other human beings when words or eye contact just aren’t the right means for conveying the message. I’m living in a new city, but I’ve lived in other cities for years and still had to confess the same truth – that some of my closest connections are still with people who are not within reach, whose hands I can’t clasp, whom I can only touch with words and images.

 4.

But my connections with these distant people (and I think you know who you are) have been so strong and tangible, we may as well be clasping hands, or patting each other on the back every time we visit each others’ blogs. It may seem easy to send positive thoughts across cyberspace to someone whose life you aren’t obliged to touch in person. Perhaps there will always be a percentage of users of social media who misuse multiple immediate unlimited connecting as a way to scatter and cloud their intimacies. I am not within that percentage, and neither is any one of you reading this right now.  As far as I’m concerned, my reach is singular and clear, and has yet to go unreturned by worthy kindred souls. For which I thank you.    

14 comments:

  1. TT/G - a thought provoking post. The image of the clear-smokey glass or acrylic hand is such a potent image for reaching out in both a virtual and unseen sense. F and I were talking about naming works only a couple of days ago. We were saying how impotent it can be as a way for the artist to communicate what they have created or seen or captured; but at the same time not naming a work allows the beholder the opportunity to simply put their own meaning and message on thew work. Guess it depends on whether we want to communicate our message or listen to the message of others and see if it coincides with our own unspoken message. Enough rambling?? Go well. B

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    1. Thanks B for adding such an interesting followup to my post! I usually name my photos here because I'm presenting them as part of the overall message of the post - in a way I guess I'm prompting the reader to treat the images as an extension or elaboration of the text and not mere decoration! When I think of exhibiting these same images in a gallery, however, I have misgivings as you mention as to whether I should just allow the viewer to feel the work purely, without a title to lead them by the hand. I think you have to work very hard on a title so that it suggests new meanings, but does not provide the one and only answer - or not give it a title at all! The question for me is always - does this title add or subtract from the experience? Hmm...much to consider.

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  2. Your messages are very deep as a deep lake, and who does not know you after so many years can not read between the lines ..
    These photos are very impressive ..
    Send you my love !!

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Monika! Your words make me smile - like sunlight sparkling on the deep lake! Sending you my love.

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  3. I'm moved reading this ... I think about the connections within you, your experiences of creating photography, fiber art, and writing, the ways that there are fluid points of connection among those experiences, yet room for each to develop in its own way ... and the connections between people, with room for closeness and individuality ... hands connecting you both to forms of expression and creation and to other people ...

    The Jungian analyst (and architect) Ruth Amman wrote, "We can find a connection to our fellow human beings not only through language but also ... through our hands. The hands can build the bridge between our inner world and the external world. ... The hands are the mediators between spirit and matter, between an inner image and an actual creation..."

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    1. JMG - it makes me happy that you were moved by this post, and understood so well what I was trying to say, in words and without them. That quote is wonderful! I'm tempted to edit this post and place that quote at the beginning - except then, nothing I said after that could say it any better! Many thanks for your thoughtful comment.

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  4. I often feel the same way, when people talk about their experiences on the internet making them feel less connected to people. I always just want to blurt out, "Well, maybe you're meeting the wrong people!" Blogging has let so many amazing people into my life, and I count you as one of them. :)

    We are all interconnected, holding spiritual hands, as it were.

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    1. Thanks so much,T! Maybe those that feel lack of connection are not only meeting the wrong people, but simply too many people, as if true connection could ever be a numbers game. I've noticed lately that I've been getting fewer comments here, but they are far more insightful and supportive, and that suits me just fine. Out in the real world, I never was one to have a lot of friends, just a few really good ones. Guess I'm picky. And you definitely make the pick! Have a great weekend.

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  5. Hi G/TT - I loved the imagery throughout this post - so very theatrical, yet also very personal. You are so right about the depth of connectedness possible thru the inter web (but mostly blogging I feel - the whole Facebook thing seems like drive-thru fast-food whilst blogging feels more like a drink and nibbles with friends, but I digress). The shared sensibility between your mediums is strong I think and I love how the hand connects them all. So true! So raise a glass on a Friday night...to the world-wide connections.

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    1. Thanks F - I don't usually stage photos, but the white glove and the acrylic hand were sort of lying in perfect proximity on my worktable just asking to be further explored as a subject, so I shifted them around a little and was indeed surprised at how natural and human they looked! I agree about FB - one of the reasons I still resist using it. One of these days I might break down and use it strictly for widespread promotional purposes, but as I commented above, I have always been about quality versus quantity in my human connections, and perhaps even in my professional connections. I don't need to be well-known, just well-understood.

      I had forgotten that most noble of purposes for hands - the raising of a glass! It's still coffee hour on Friday morning here, but by day's end I will certainly comply with your request! Enjoy the weekend and best to you and B.

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  6. G....what a great post! Many has been the time I've wished I could just reach out and hug you!! Although a few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea, I can now say with firm conviction that many of my closest friends are ones whose hands I've only held across the ether. It's very sustaining, as I know you know! Cheers!

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    1. Patti - those times you wished you could reach out and hug me, I'm sure I felt it as if you were right here! I am also sure that one day we will be able to do so in person. I was a cynic once too, but I now feel that, as with any other mode of communication, online is what you make of it. There are people you share close quarters and many years with who can remain guarded, false or inscrutable and in all ways untouchable, and there are friendships that transcend space and time. It's about what you are willing to give and receive and how - and of course finding the right friends! Cheers to you.

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