I'm home again. It felt like I was gone much longer than nine days. Funny how time can seem to either stretch or contract in direct response to the amount of stress involved in a situation. I predict that time will, once again, start speeding by now that I'm back where things feel comfortable and my routine has returned to normal.
On the drive back to Pennsylvania I was listening to the radio and caught a snippet of an interview with artist Andy Goldsworthy just before the satellite feed got interrupted. The only thing I heard was his observation that in art school he was expected to express himself - but that he never worked that way; that he didn't give expression to what he felt but that through his work he explored and learned about the world. I wish I had the exact transcript, but that was the gist of what I got from the snippet I heard.
What he said really resonated with me because I have never understood how you can approach a project with the intention of "expressing" something. I know that that's the way a lot of artists work - maybe most? - but, truth to tell, I don't have the first inkling of how to go about working that way. My studio is a laboratory and my work is my way of exploring and testing theories. It is the visible proof of experiments that show whether or not I'm listening closely to the clues I'm given from something that, for whatever reason, has graced me enough to share them with me; it's how I learn about the world. If I'm honest, it is truly the only way I have ever learned about the world and about my place in it. You know how when people lose sight they often develop a greater sense of smell? It's kind of like that. I'm not at all sure I could find my way without being able to work this way.
My work isn't about me. It's about what is presented to me. It's a conversation with things that are just beyond my grasp. It is my way of making sense and understanding it all as best I can. Maybe, when all is said and done, it is nothing more than a record of my journey - and that's okay.
I think the reason I am compelled to show or share my work is because I need to know there are kindred souls out there who see the world the way I do. It's been reassuring to find other people, too, who are open to my work simply because they appreciate that there are different ways of seeing and being and want to be supportive.
I thought for sure I would head straight to the studio yesterday after being gone for so long, but it was a bright, crisp Fall day so I went for a walk instead. I was thinking about how wonderful it was to see the mountains near our home again, and about the full eclipse of the moon last month... about how the seasons change and wondering when the first snow would fall...
I'm grateful for being able to work the way I do. I am grateful to being open to the clues that are presented to me and that help me better understand the world and my place in it. I am grateful that I don't feel the need to work the way other artists might and that I am content to experiment and explore and leave a record of my journey. I am grateful for kindred souls and for those who appreciate and support my work.
I am grateful to be home.
: : Karen Anne