Thursday, October 27, 2011

letting the hand lead

For my degree, I have to defend my exhibition work with external examiners. The exam is called a Viva. In the UK, art is very bound up in theory and it's a little ironic that I studied so many Japanese artists for my dissertation. The Japanese do not seem to theorize so much about what they do, but follow their materials and hone their own techniques. In this way, I think that the Japanese are more phenomenological. They let their hands lead rather than their minds. In my own work, I am finding that when I leave the theory at home with the books and go into the studio and just work, I usually find better and more answers then when I start the other way around. (with the theory) Sometimes when I stay home and read theory, I end up mending Ned's jeans and baking brownies.

16 comments:

Karoda said...

often theorizing and philosophizing, which I tend to do leads to my mind being cluttered...its like the dust that settles on everything...but leading by hand is what for myself is leading my spirit and it clears that dust.

Carrie said...

I battled with this problem at uni too. I usually knew what the work was about in my head but found it hard to verbalise it. I often made work intuitively, then found that the theory fit anyway.

Susan Fletcher Conaway said...

This hits home. I feel it now - my creativity is tangled and cluttered - trying to pin a reason to it. Composing an artists' statement does that to me. At first I feel relieved I have managed to put it into words, then self doubt as to wether I am really saying it all. I can only imagine how difficult it may be talking about it in person - with examiners.

I have to come back to just making - and what I wanted to say seems to find its way into what is made. I wish I could remember to just make. I have turned to mending lately too - lots of patches on the knees of little boy pants.

I am so fond of your work, Judy. I can't always find the words for comments, but I am always affected by what I see and read here. Thank you.

arlee said...

This REALLY hit the nail on the head for me! While i've become pretty adept at writing the statements, talking about the art is a totally different matter--i come home from critique meetings both excited and disgruntled--not because of any nastiness, but because how i verbalize and how i make are 2 different things, and i'm never sure the translation was correct, or that i sounded stoopid or facile!
Much food for thought--perhaps i should practice in front of a mirror and with a video :)

La Dolce Vita said...

i find... for me.... thinking is the enemy of creativity...

Anabella said...

But... if you mend the jeans using Boro techniques, then... full circle?! :-)

Valerianna said...

Oh yes... I remember how "heady" all the theory classes were in grad school. It actually got many people questioning how or why they made something and confusing some people enough to turn their beautiful work into literal, uninteresting one-liners. And don't even get me started with examiners.... as I'm one for our thesis students, I can tell you it is an ego-centered competition when arguing about what the student should receive as a grade. My jaw usually drops as I witness people looking for a good idea and completely missing subtle, stunningly beautiful work. Ugh!

Velma said...

i missed totally the theory part (really!) in art school. if you're plain spoken and honest, well, they won't like it! is that it? sometimes i wonder.

Gina said...

Such truth in your words Judy. Tday I've just let my hands work without asking why and it has felt wonderful.

Serena said...

i find having major distractions, like little kids, help block out higher levels of thought. :)


i wish you the best of luck with this.

i find i actually innately read a lot into your quilts. i get it and i cannot explain how and i've always felt that's how really great art should be.

Karen said...

Theory seems to hammer the life and soul out of art. When we over analyze something, we are taking it apart and looking at each small piece-- and ultimately this is destructive. The other thing about theory is that it uses language that is incredibly opaque-- it's as if it doesn't want to be broadly understood. The hand has a lot of knowledge and often the mind gets in the way.

Thanks again, Judy!

Jeana Marie said...

Smiling :)

Patti Hinton said...

I've not studied art formally so I remain a 'go with your gut' girl. I enjoyed your post Judy and had a chuckle about the jeans mending and brownie baking. That's where I'd end up as well.

bj said...

Theory and 'the rules' get in the way of creativity. When I think too much about how it 'should be', it sucks all the life out of what I'm working on. I love your work, too!

Penny Berens said...

Holy Mackerel...you climbed up that ladder! What we will do for our art. Congratulations Judy, it looks amazing.

lynda Howells said...

I had terrible trouble with theory when l did my Art Degree ( starting at 50) especially as l normally work intuitively. I think go with your gut..and cook cookies insteadxxx I have the same trouble everytime l am asked to write an Artist's Statement!. If l think too much , l never do the Artxxx So l feel for you Judy. Love your work and your creatrivity judy..so just go for it and you will be okxxlynda