Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Setting the Table

This morning I met with Liz and Holly (see previous post) to work on a collaboration we want to do--Setting the Table. We brought work upstairs from Holly's studio that each of us were drawn to, and moved them around on top of studies of weavings that I had done and some ikat fragments and sketches for new ikat that Liz brought. Collaboration can take so many different forms. This was our second meeting, and we are feeling it out, trying to find the format that will work for us. We pointed out aspects of the work that we appreciated, saw how one fabric could bring out the details of a plate, where another would dull it. Finally we came to the conclusion that anything we did would be fine.

Does that sound vain? It was really more about appreciating the way each of us works, honoring our differences, giving credence to the different ways we work--trusting each other. In fact, the attraction we have for each other's work is probably one of the reasons why we want to do this collaboration. So we parted with a date on our calendar in March when we will bring new work together and have a more concrete discussion of what to keep in, what to put aside. 

I have flirted with functional cloth before but never seriously pursued it. Whether my weaving is functional or not, the hard part for me is getting started. I feel I know how to do everything, or at least if I am not sure of something I know how to research it so I can do it, but I never know what to do. What is worth making? If I was a writer, it would be like getting stuck because I wanted to write "the great American novel". You can't set out to do that, it is too overwhelming a prospect. Well, that is what I am like when I approach my looms--I always want to make something terrific, something beautiful, something admirable. In order to start, I have to lecture myself about making and expectations--to leave the expectations aside and just begin work. The work itself usually takes on a life of its own and begins to inform me where to go. When I used to do brocade and would be working with hundreds of supplementary threads, I swear they would tell me, "go left, go right, stop, add more..." There is a dialogue that happens between the process and the artist so getting to work is often the answer to questions of what to do. Begin and the answers will come. It seems always to be plural--never one answer but lots of possibilities, and of course you take one direction and that leads to more possibilities. It is quite a dynamic process, this making something.

In many ways, working with Photoshop with its layers and potential to save all the variations is a similar process of starting in one place and going forward to a point of decision, and then proceeding to the next decision, until you reach a place where you, or the work, says stop. In weaving, which starts at the bottom and proceeds line by line, you don't really have the option to go back (though of course there are people who do unweave; and there is always the option when the weaving is done to change it through other processes like embroidery or painting or cutting and collage). Photoshop lets you save the work at each decision point, and you can return to that after following another path, and try it again. I think it can become an endless loop of variations. One could stay with the same starting point and end up at different end results forever. Just like one could work with plain weave their whole career and never come to the end of its possibilities.

I don't know today where my part of the collaboration is going, but I will post here as it progresses and keep you informed. Someone wrote what a neat studio I have, and it is true, but remember I haven't actually started to work up there yet either. Just had the pleasure of placing things in what seems ideal position for now. You know how work goes though--looms will get pushed out, yarn will come off the shelves, and hopefully the threads will begin talking to me and telling me what to do next.

1 comment:

  1. endless loop of variations... so that's where i'm at.

    neki desu