Taking Stock

posted in: Art | 0

Such a funny phrase this: to take stock, meaning to do inventory. To take/remove/observe the stock/trunk/cohesive part of something. To analyze something to its core. Or, maybe it just means to drink broth, and i’m reading too much into it.

It’s January again. These first few days after the festivities provide a slow start to the year, muddling through a mindful reflective period. With another 12 months ahead, an eternity of time and space, what are my options? What possibilities can I explore? I need to know where I stand before I step into the abyss of life again.

This new year brings new challenges to living in a decidedly difficult socio-political climate. In many ways, I am protected from the byproducts of the last election by actively not participating in the discourse, and by enjoying the privileges of being white (albeit both female and an immigrant). In other ways, I’m simply screwed. For example, sticking to my choice to be self-reliant (low income / low expenses style) means that health insurance is not in the cards. Since the state of Idaho requires a verified income above a certain sum, I’m at a loss to prove that I can be self-reliant for now. So bureaucracy has become the master of life and death for people in my income bracket… in this state. Not even I can escape this necessity for affordable health care. So I weigh my options against my priorities, and think for a while.

Looking back at the last batch of work I’ve done, though the space of time, I see that I was focused on doing, actively creating relationships with objects and spaces, forging connections, stretching invisible thread between all the things I touched, and using that network as a nest for my harrowed heart. It worked. I am attached. I feel like I belong, like I have a place to come back to, a home, an intimate space where comfort and safety meet to rock this tired traveler to sleep. The options in terms of metaphors are endless, though I prefer to use the thread as line and connection because it brings together seamlessly the imagery I was creating before I started spinning, and the new passion for yarn-making that I discovered a little over a year ago. So much has happened in the past year.

I knew that taking a year to build (really construct) a house would be a life-changing process, and I also knew that I wanted it to matter in terms of how I think about object-making in general. As “artists”, we make ideas into physical phenomena, one way or another, no matter how large or small. Even the occasional installation or performance I created in the past revolved around objects, so I label myself as an object-maker for now. Learning all the craft skills needed to put my house together opened up a foreign world of fabrication for me; it turned my already established process inside-out, which is something of a relief. My European fine art training looks down upon craft, but my American training is all accepting; it asks for inclusion. For the past year, I’ve been struggling with professional guilt and shame, because I’ve been working in wood and fiber but haven’t considered the craft-work of any importance. On the other hand, I absolutely know that everything matters in terms of new avenues a theme can open up, if I just pay attention, but my shame has blinded me to these budding options. Which is why a reflective period is always a good idea…

I think enough time has passed since grad school and tiny house building that I can start reaping the benefits of those new lessons and new experiences. I think my new art-work, the stuff still in the pipes, will benefit from new understanding and fresh layers of experiential sedimentation. I look forward to a creative year ahead.

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