Saturday, November 15, 2014
The Courage of My Convictions
What is it that people say? Every long journey begins with a single step? Well, in this case, every massive art installation begins with a single stitch.
Kind of obnoxious in both instances. And yet, like every cliche, there is that nugget of truth in it! I swatched up my first skein of yarn (is swatch a verb?) so I could see what stitch I like and what the various breeds of sheep were looking like. The lighter brown is Romney. I don't like it quite so much as the Shetland, which is darker. In my original idea, I thought I would like the surface to be very textural - I actually didn't want processed wool but thought I would spin it washed but not carded so it would be very thick and thin and still showing its locks. Then I pictured a huge, hairy brown thing on the wall and suddenly I started having visions of it looking like a huge wall of pubic hair. Sorry, I know it may sound vulgar to those of you who are the more sensitive among us, but once a thought like that enters your head, it won't go away. So, I am giving the whole thing a Brazilian and going with good, old, dependable, and most importantly, flat stockinette stitch. I might even want to full it a bit after it is all stitched together, but that decision is a long way away at this point.
One thought that has been coming up for me as I have actually begun to work on this (once I got the pubic hair out of my mind) is about what the purpose of this work will be and where will my conviction to keep going come from. Obviously, I do not have the same impulses and inspirations as Richard Serra did when he (or his assistants) made those drawings. But there was something there that was strong enough to get me this far. Now the work is taking on its own life. Even as I spinning these first skeins, I was thinking about what this whole process will bring to the work - the labour, the time and energy. As someone very wise said to me, the conviction that brought me to begin the work will not the same as the conviction that will keep me going with it. And that will not the same as the conviction to know that I am finished with it. Yes, very wise.
I also was thinking about that old bugaboo - how some people will inevitably say something like, "you wasted all that good wool that could have gone into making sweaters for homeless babies for the coming winter." Even as that genre of comment makes me want to smack the person saying it upside the head, I know the reason that it irks me so much is because sometimes that speaker is me. As I was spinning, I did have some thoughts along the lines of "Holy shit! All this wool for something that might turn out to be a total disaster!" But you know, anything could turn out to be a disaster, including knitting sweaters for homeless babies.
We still march forward. We still have to knit that first stitch.