I seek the shelter of my escape
and by faith, I will find my way.
Merino wool roving, wet felted, resist
formed, immersion dyed, blocked.
Photograph by Douglas Foulke
What is your escape? Where do you seek shelter when you feel a bit disconnected, lost or out of synch with life or your journey? For me, one place is definitely my art. As a person of faith, there are times when I'm creating and feel so connected to my source of inspiration, to God, the creative process becomes a form of worship and prayer for me. There's something about the flow of how a piece starts to come together, how it evolves and unfolds and almost takes over for me, that sometimes the greatest effort is to not break that ebb and to just let it be and go with it. To trust the process, and listen, and do, and watch. The irony of it all is really quite wonderful. While I might begin in a state of mind that's uncertain, questioning, perhaps pondering some life crisis or simply trying to figure out a direction and whether I should take it, the very act of being lost and seeking shelter in my art and then getting lost in that, is inevitably how I find my way.
I can always tell when I'm not in that frame of mind, when that connection isn't there. Instead of working on my art, it feels more like just "making stuff". Not that this is a negative aspect of creating, for imagination comes in all forms and simply exploring and making and seeing what happens can be the perfect vehicle to bring me to that place of connection, to that higher level of creating. And while the results can be great, inside is where I feel the difference. Whether the difference is only within me and my perspective of the finished piece, or is within the piece itself, I'm not sure. But I can say, the response I see in others to those pieces I feel more connected to, more involved with, is markedly different than those pieces I've just "made". Perhaps the connection actually transcends the piece and the message is more clearly discerned because of that connection, beyond what would I would have created with only my own interpretation to direct me.
I've heard artists, musicians and other people who actively create express similar experiences with their art and the idea that the process and connection was guiding them and not the other way around. And how when the connection released, they knew the piece was complete. Finished. Nothing more to add or take away. It was done and they were grateful and fulfilled.
In the Christian faith, the word Amen is a declaration of affirmation, an "it is so" or "so be it". When I made Escape, where this piece ended up isn't even close to what I had planned when I started ("I" being the operative word.) One thing after another seemed to go wrong, the process turned in odd directions, and it would have been easy to throw up my hands in frustration, quit the piece and walk away. Intuitively though, I knew it was going somewhere and I just needed to calmly go with it. Then, almost suddenly, all the odd turns and mishaps seemed to come together into something unexpectedly whole. I had found my way. I felt deeply grateful and fulfilled and I knew it was done. And I looked at the piece and simply said "Amen."