This blog entry is for anyone wondering what I mean when I say that my art ideas feel like they come to me instead of me coming up with them. This year's Lumiere project is a good example:
Out on a nature walk last year, I decided to make an ALL-NATURE themed mandala using some local cattails. My only goal at that time was to "create something nice looking". Nothing complicated, no symbolism, no deeper meaning. Just a nice light art project.
And I almost did it too...
But as is almost always the case with plans: things changed. As soon as I got busy assembling all my various Nature materials--seeds, flowers, shells, seaweed, leaves--I found myself visited by some unexpected guests: Scissors and Spoons showed up.
"We want to be in the Mandala too" they kept insisting. And there it was. The Dilemma. I had to decide if I would stick to my *original* plan (ALL nature) or if I would bend the criteria and allow non-nature materials as well. I bent.
Once I shifted gears toward creating a more diverse mandala--one with not just organics but also synthetics, things got EXCITING! I was now working on a project which, for my tastes, was better than just "nice looking"--it was INTERESTING!
The inclusion of dissimilar objects proved to be the catalyst for some riveting conversations!
For example, I once witnessed a debate between Spoon and Mussel Shell over which one of them was the ORIGINAL and BEST eating utensil. (Mussel had been first, we established, but spoon did have a few advantages, mostly convenience.)
These conversations also made my job easier: now that the objects had their own voices, they could tell me where they wanted to be placed. They all agreed they did NOT wish to be hidden or altered which is why I decided to keep them as natural and unobscured as possible.
Toward the end of construction, it became clear the Mandala had decided it was "full".
Each attempt at new additions just felt like "clutter" but I wasn't sure why.
The Mandala knew a truth though, and when I sat and listened, here is what it taught me:
"Diversity alone is not the source of dissonance.
Is the beautiful painting not made up of MANY different shapes and colours?
Does a composer of great music not use MANY different notes and chords?
We do not need to be identical--or even similar--to co-exist peacefully.
We do need space. How much? Enough.
Freedom within clearly defined boundaries allows us to be our own unique selves.
When boundaries are threatened, peace is difficult. Harmony is strained."
"Also", it said, "I want you to notice something else. Look at my composition.
At first, you see a unified whole, everything works together for the greater good.
But within this harmonious whole, there are sub-groups.
Do you see how Seaweed has a fellow ocean dweller in Mussel?
And Scissors share their origin story with Spoons?
Same with the cattails--they have their own tribe members in leaves, flowers, seeds...
This is Important.
In the Mandala, everyone has a friend."