Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Individuality Bites" Or "No Artist is an Island"

I've always been a sort of unconscious rebel.  I realized this when I was in my thirties.  Wherever I am, I seem to gravitate away from the established norm.  I don't do this purposefully, it just seems to happen.  It doesn't hurt that I've lived in two very extreme places in my adult life, Berkeley, California and Texas, where I attended one of the top ten conservative universities in the U.S., Texas A&M.  And when I say extreme, I mean complete opposite extremes. 
 Both places have influenced me, naturally, but what I noticed when I lived in California was that I had my own ideas about things - I didn't automatically follow the sheep who all think they are wolves there in pretty much any way - politically, morally, philosophically.  And in Texas, I rarely am part of the herd, either. 
This led me to believe that I am simply a contrarian - a word I'm not sure exactly exists, but which seems an apt description for my inability to fit in completely, no matter where I am.  I'm okay with it, but it certainly doesn't make my life any simpler.  Oh well.
I bring this up because I'm finding that with my art, I seem to be this way, too.  For example, the two major trends right now in quilting are to quilt heavily, to cover every square milimeter of the piece with thread, and to make "pictures" with fabric - taking a photograph and turning it into a quilt with small specs of fabric and again, thread painting - to awe-ful, gasp-inducing  effect., I might add.  I appreciate it greatly - I love the amazing beauty I see created by all the prize-winning quilters...but I don't want to make them. I see them and they are gorgeous, and I appreciate the amazing skill that goes into them, but my fingers don't itch to do it. Not at all.  Is there something wrong with me, I wonder?  Why am I not inspired by these amazing works of art?
Now, if it makes it any better, I am wondering if it's just due to laziness - not wanting to spend that much time on a piece, or if it's lack of confidence...admittedly quilting is my weakest skill (I'm working on it!) But if I'm honest, I really don't think that's it.  I just don't feel like it.
In fact, at the moment, for whatever reasons, I find myself wanting to create more graphic images, which naturally require more graphic quilting, and less of it. (Again, I'm not doing this on purpose, I swear - it's like an autonomic response or something!)  It's just what's coming out of me right now - I can't help it. 
So what I'm getting excited about is pretty much the opposite of the trends right now, but is it because I'm trying too hard to be different, or is it because it is?  I mean, I can't necessarily control the creativity that flows through me, and if it's what makes me excited, isn't that alright?  "Of course," said my lovely sister-in-law, Katerina when I brought up my concerns to her the other day, "you don't want to be like everyone else, do you?" (Contrarianism seems to be a trend in the entire family.)
Actually, I just want to be myself - whatever that is. At the same time, I strongly believe I'm connected to the people and the world around me on a molecular level, and I don't kid myself that I'm not part of the collective consciousness wherever I am, even if I seem to be different. 
So my conclusion is this:  First of all, I may not be obviously directly influenced to create precisely what I'm seeing are the trends, but I am being influenced by them nonetheless.  And if I am truly just being me - not looking at what everyone else is doing and poo-poohing it, not trying too hard to be 'an individual', but just letting it flow, however it does, then whatever comes out is true...real...not trying to be anything, just be-ing. 
 And that, I know is okay.  
So I'm just going to let the creativity flow - in any direction it wants to. I'm giving free rein to it.  I'm going to stay open to everything, to learn from and be influenced by everyone - and then whatever happens, happens. 
And I certainly don't need to take any of it too seriously or to fret or worry that I'm not doing "the right thing."  I'm not doing it really, to win any prizes (although recognition is not a bad thing).  I'm just doing it.  And it's not the outcome, but the doing and the spirit of it that matters, anyway.
 So - everything - and nothing - are right.  They just "are."  And that makes me feel so - so -FREE!  Like a paper-winged butterfly floating on the breezes from one breathtaking batch of flowers to the next.  Totally refreshing and ready to land, well - just about anywhere.