During the summer of 2020 a group of students in the Inspiration Library began a two month process with the intention to "Make Art That Matters." Although each of us went through the same process each of us emerged with a different piece and our own meaning.
Not everyone who began finished and not everyone who finished chose to share their work publicly, but everyone who embarked on this process made their own strides towards meaning, insight and relationship through art. For many it was a wonderful escape during a time of quarantine providing a sense of flow and joy during a challenging time.
Explore the stories and images below, be sure to comment or follow each of the creators to show your support! If you would like to make your own art that matters this 4 step process including video lessons and handouts is currently available through the Inspiration Library.
I selected the poem “The Moment” by Margaret Atwood for my jumping-off point for the Make Art That Matters project. Key elements in the poem automatically triggered my ongoing frustration and anger with environmental issues, climate change, and the loss of wildlife. My intention for my project was to resolve and alter those uncomfortable feelings and move to a more positive and caring outlook toward nature, humanity, and the environment.
My approach to the project changed several times during the course of the work. I initially planned to make 3D wildlife cutouts, select environmental issues, then write and perform finished work in an outdoor venue or create animated videos. Due to some unforeseen time limitations, I eventually opted to create displays featuring the subject matter of loss of wildlife. The pieces are 2D collages that contain abstract earth symbols, magnified plant photos, wildlife cut-out imagery and, on occasion, text for the images portraying insects or mammals on the decline in my own backyard. Each piece is mounted on stark-white, 12”- square, watercolor sheets. The imagery is minimal for impact and simplicity. They involve the use of collage, drawing, stitching and text. They are my direct relationship to what surrounds me.
It is through nature’s vastness that I receive a wealth of benefits. Being outside quickly calms a stressful day I may be having, quiets my anger and improves my breathing. It directly impacts my health. Nature is a silent provider, offering me non-stop nourishment and shelter. While observing wildlife, it enlivens my sense of play, gratitude and amazement, among other things. In my youth, our home was surrounded by woods, a park on one side and a fairgrounds on the other. I spent as many hours as possible in all three locations discovering all that nature has to offer. Even to this day, I prefer to be outside. For all of the gifts nature has given me, it is my greatest desire to return the favor by protecting it to the best of my ability, through my art, my activism and my naturalist endeavors.
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The artist's job is to help people gain an awareness of our connected reality.
Using juxtapositions of color, line, texture and shape; the artist reveals an alternative viewpoint. Like an open window letting in fresh air we breathe in our connection to the beauty and truth in the world. Likewise, the definition of beauty and truth in art don’t need to be in pretty pictures, but should help to communicate a viewpoint to be discussed and studied. While realizing “beauty” (or contemplative thought) as a universal truth, people transform their attitude in a positive way. Thinking positively, each person then contributes to a collective civilized mindstream. In this way, art is an urgent necessity.
The two pieces were inspired by “Eagle Poem”, by Joy Harjo.
I had 2 small 6X6” canvases that were already painted. I gessoed over them, and loved the texture. I scraped, and used a stamp to create a background to the quote, “one whole voice”; a line from the poem. I used a maker, and charcoal to write the text.
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My Response to the poem, The Blackbird of Glanmore, by Seamus Heaney
The blackbird wafts up the leaves of memories on an uneven ground, reminding us that they are always changing and recycling. The blackbird is that constant inside us. Our memories are not really ours. They belong to the flesh and blood person we were, when we had those experience. Even the cells of who we are now, are not the same cells of the person who lived those memories. If we allow ourselves to have identity beyond the boundaries of our lived memories, we can evolve more freely, while retaining an identity.
Having this piece ‘fail’ was disappointing. My first thought on examining it, This looks like the Alzheimer’s version of remembering.
I want us to look the blackbird squarely in the eye, and be reflected, but perhaps this is truer to reality than is comfortable. Memories can be beautiful, painful, and tell us who we think we are, but they are tricks of the mind that shift meaning with the passage of time.
Cone 6 ceramic tile 5” x 9 ½ “
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I read the poem Eagle Poem by Joy Harjo and was immediately moved by the clear succinct way Harjo describes a moment where she felt connected to something much larger than herself. I was left cataloguing all of the moments in my life where I have felt connected to something bigger. In each instance something small seemed to encompass me entirely, almost transporting me to another time and space. I wanted to capture the idea that I can be transported into this vividness at any moment. I chose to explore this through paper and embroidery as the texture and depth of these mediums coming together seemed fitting. Each of the petals is made from found paper an intentional choice as a reminder of the ordinary. The circle framing the image felt like a direct connection to Eagle poem and the eagle circling and rounding out the sacred moment. The creation really signifies for me the intention of wading into the depth that exists in each moment. The invitation to simply look towards the sacred and drink it in. Admittedly, I have no idea how to frame this piece so right now it is pinned above my works space inviting me to avert my eyes and step into the circle if only for a moment!