Stuck in traffic
When I grumbled to a friend that I seemed to be working hard every day and getting nowhere, very slowly, she suggested that I think of it as “being stuck in traffic.” It hit me, she’s right, I’m stuck in traffic, the key difference being that there is no paycheck at the end of the tunnel. Like most artists, I view the marketing of art as a necessary evil, but when the making of art becomes onerous, I know that I am doing something terribly, terribly wrong.
Art as prayer
Out of the hundreds of artists featured on the papier-mâché resource, one stands out: Susan Ryan. I contacted her a few years ago via email and she very kindly replied. We commiserated about the difficulty of showing and selling papier-mâché sculpture. When you choose a medium associated with piñatas and kindergarten projects, you need to have a sense of humor about it, which is why she coined the term “Purposele$$ art”. Some of her work even resembles nonfunctional furniture or buildings…could it be a chest of drawers or a skyscraper? All of it is profoundly beautiful. To me, each piece feels like the physical manifestation of a prayer. Simplicity of form paired with subtle complexity of color invite meditation and calm. The the application of layers upon layers of oil glazes imbue them with a timeless quality: some look like they might belong in a Shinto shrine; others unearthed with the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I was pleased to discover that Susan Ryan has moved back to California and recently had a show in Ventura. I need to make a pilgrimage. In the meantime, thank you for reminding me that making art should feel more like playing or praying and less like a job.