the creative soup

I was reading another artist’s blog today about the nature of creativity… people often ask me to explain my work, which is often problematic because it comes from a lot of different places, like the moths that I am working on right now, which have no real link to my work on madness or domestic space, except I keep thinking of them… so in some way deep in the soupiness of my brain they are connected. When I was an undergrad I tried to develop a research methodology to my studio work, because I wanted to have something to talk/make art about and it worked up to a point, except I would have all these random thoughts that sort of branched off from what I was saying, that I mostly ignored, or jotted in the margins of my sketchbooks, then I took a sculpture class and the prof. told me to trust my instincts a little more, to let myself back into my work, which was the best advice anyone gave me in four years of school!!! So I have been trying to humor my inner art child and have been chasing all my random ideas lately, hence the moths, which I am really enjoying.

I have been trying to unravel all the strands of thought which might have generated the moths, so here goes… firstly there is my mad women, particularly, and again I don’t know why, a spiritualist named Tirzah Shedd, who was institutionalized for fourteen weeks in 1865 by her husband for her religious beliefs, she writes ” And yet this is a land of religious freedom! It may be the land of freedom for the men, but I am sure it is not for married women!” When I first read about her I thought of the moths, maybe it was the association of spiritualism with dark rooms and lamps/candles, but anyway the moth became a kind of motif for her through that whole body of work… so darkness/light=moth here, but also I was thinking about Edith Wharton’s autobiography, there’s a passage where she describes her life as being like a great house, with the public rooms lit up and thrown open for a party, but she isn’t in any of those rooms, instead she says she is waiting in a dark attic alone for footsteps that never come, I thought how sad is it that a woman who met many of the great minds of her day, who held popular salon type gatherings still felt fundamentally alone, she had the kind of creative life so many of us aspire to live and yet she never felt she had found a soul to really meet her in her dark room, that’s how i felt in college, I went looking for similar minds and found I had little in common with so many of the other students (however that’s another blog for another day). So again I think the moths were linked to the physicality of the idea of a dark attic, her words called up a visual image of their wings beating vainly against dark windows, trying to get out into the light. And finally there is lurking in the back of my mind Angels & Insects by A S Byatt, splendid short fiction set in the appropriate era which colored my thinking about moths all over again…

I guess none of this ramble really answers the question of why moths exactly, but like I said its pretty soupy in there!

1 thought on “the creative soup

  1. Wonderful, inspiring post! In my humble opinion, there’s too much pressure put on artists to write statements about their practice…to much thinking, not enough creating, not enough instinct. I find that if I follow my instincts rigorously, using them as a sort of Pole Star to guide me through the sea of the decision making process, the meaning and purpose come through anyway… I find them through the work. There comes a point where you just have to trust your instincts. Tirzah Shedd’s story has echoes of those of members of my own ancestral family who were incarcerated in asylums for several years for admitting to visions. Today, they’d be artists or entertainers. Maybe all creative thinkers feel a little like Edith Wharton: in the attics of our minds? Lots to think about, thank you x

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