Thursday, September 17, 2015

Trusting Trust

My camera cable has arrived but, as is usually the state of things, I don't really feel like talking about the show in Nova Scotia right now.  Maybe I will tomorrow.  What I want to write about is trust.

Someone asked me yesterday what I trust.  He meant it in a Big Picture kind of way.  In a "Do you believe in God" kind of way.  I don't think a lot about God as he/she/it is thought about monotheistic traditions.  So I told him that I believe there is a perfection to the Universe.  I trust that.  I also trust my practice.  And when I said that, I realized that I must trust myself on some level because...who else is practicing?

This came up because I have been thinking about my piece, To Stand in the Center and See All Around.  The piece that I fondly also call Bitch Slapping Richard Serra.  That title is not so politically correct, even to me who made it up, so I don't use it.  Except sometimes.

I made the piece with a pretty specific idea in mind, which was to create a wall of black wool that would absorb light and create a presence that could not be ignored.  I didn't really know what else it might create but that was my starting point.  I bought pounds and pounds of black Shetland wool and I spun it into a thick, single ply yarn.  I knit it up in stockinette stitch with some purl stitches here and there so that it would come out like a rectangle, not a parallelogram (it's a spinning thing).  I took it with me everywhere - to Nashville, to my friend's chemo appointments, everywhere.  And, as a result, it absorbed all that energy and started to have an unexpected presence and power, even as it sat on the needles.

But I didn't trust it.

For my BKBX exhibition, I added mirrors and sound and special lighting effects and even inflatable bladders.  I pretty much created a three-ring circus around it so that the piece itself was totally lost.  Truly, you couldn't even see it in the installation.  Not surprisingly, I was less than happy with how that all turned out.  Not exactly feeling crushed by failure but it has been more of a nagging sense that it just didn't do what I wanted it to do.

The good news is that I used the mirrored cloth in my installation for Starting from Scratch at Ithaca College and it looks great.  Totally works.  The knit piece, however, sat on my living room floor and became little more than a very large, luxurious cat bed for a few months.  I tossed it in the car when I left for Cape Breton, not convinced that I would even have the nerve to try to pass it off as art.

Then, it happened that there was a wall in the gallery that fit it perfectly.  A nook, even.  So I hung it up.

To Stand in the Center and See All Around, 2015.  Handspun, handknit wool.  Installed at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts, Inverness, NS.
Minus the three-ring circus, the piece is powerful.  In fact, it actually does exactly what I hoped it would do and more.  No one is more surprised than myself!  I didn't trust.  I didn't trust the process or the materials.  I didn't trust trust.

I paired this piece with my SpinCycle performance and I spun (with help from various people pedaling and storytelling) the same black Shetland wool that is in the piece.  I think the two go together quite well.  The strength of this piece is that it is full of all the stories and energy that it collected over the months in which it was made.  It is the antithesis of minimalism while still being very minimal.  So, I like that the SpinCycle piece is a kind of companion to it.  In fact, suddenly I saw my recent work in a new perspective and I could see a fresh direction for it.  It feels true, somehow.

If you were a literary type, you might see this as a metaphor for how one lives one's life.  Not trusting, we add all sorts of layers - call it a three-ring circus - around what it already simple and complete and powerful.  Trusting, we can let it just be what it is, which is always more than we can imagine.

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