Sunday, February 20, 2011

the creative act of noticing

I've spent the last few months moving to a new city and beginning a new job. It has been a bit overwhelming at times. For someone who always manages to carve time into each day for art-making, this has been quite a shift. Yet I value the perspectives this gives me. How can I remain creative in my every day when each work day is (when taking into account my commute), ten hours? I've decided that I will make a creative practice out of simple observation. Sometimes those observations will become integrated into art and sometimes not. Last night it snowed a few inches, covering everything in that clean, white blanket of snow we all love. On my way down to a church service, I noticed that only one person before me had broken trail on the sidewalk. The lone person had walked the four blocks, weaving and the entire length. I naturally added my footsteps to theirs and, in doing so, made the foot path even more of a noticeable weave. After the service, as I clumped up the hill, I noticed that a dozen or more footprints had been added. And each person, to my amazement, reinforced the integrity of the original path, zigzags in tact. I don't know why no one attempted to straighten the path, but I love the fact that no one did. Eventually, with people coming outdoors to shovel their walks, it will inevitably change. But for a few hours, strangers all silently agreed to enjoy the whimsical nature of the original walker. Maybe that's how it sometimes works. Maybe if the first person is bold enough to explore a new and joyful way of walking, others will follow. I did. And apparently, so did a dozen others.

My second act of noticing came in the form of tea-leaves. My friend and I were sharing a cup of tea and, as I like to use loose leaves, when my cup was empty, the leaves had formed themselves into a shape. It seemed to me to be a woman, sitting reading a book. The image stayed with me and a week or so later, I carved a small print of that same image.