It is very difficult to be a working mom and to make time for research. In fact, the past few days I just couldn't do it. I'm forcing myself to do it now, and it feels hard.
I am trying to be as intermodal as possible, so rather than using movement and guided visualization like I did last week, I am going to try something else. I will video myself improvising. Oh my god. Yeah, that's what I am going to do. I will improvise from the place of being outside, and then from a place of being inside. This will be hard. I will likely not share the video, but I will share screen shots, or something. I don't know. We'll see how it goes.
Reflections while diving
The body language of belonging and being excluded. How do people move when they don't feel like they belong? How do they move when they do belong?
I started my improvisation experiment by trying to speak from a place of feeling rejected or on the outside. That didn't resonate, so instead I decided to move and hold my body. I filmed it, exaggerating how I hold my body when I am feeling exposed, left out, or judged.
I then tried to move like someone who feels like they are in their rightful place. Walking tall and proud felt good. But how do people who feel like they belong hold themselves, especially when they are alone? I couldn't find it. I couldn't find that body position.
I did some drawing. Contour drawings of myself on video. Memory drawing of times I have felt out of place and that I was somewhere I was not wanted.
I became aware of my own tendency to exclude myself.
On the Topic of LGBT-ness
One issue is that the whole LGBT identity thing just doesn't feel that big of a deal lately. I don't care about it, I don't feel it. I'm realizing (and perhaps this is a good thing) that work is just work and teachers, all of us, have to pretend to be something we are not. We all have private lives. The conflict I felt between my private life and my work life just doesn't feel so distressing any more. Is that good? Did looking at these conflicts make them disappear or diminish? Or is it just too in my face, and I can't see it?
I just have this "So?" feeling.
And the conflict I felt between my work life and my life as an artist doesn't feel like much of a conflict because truth be told, I am not aching to show my work and make my mark in the art world. I really am not. I am not an MFA person. This feels soft and maternal and conventional and kind of icky.
It also feels like a cop out, maybe?
My partner said something that at first pissed me off, but now I'm wondering about the truth of it. She inquired about this research and when I told her she replied "you're STILL worrying about the gay stuff?" I know that my identity as an LGBT person will ebb and flow, and has many layers, and that each time I meet a new person, I have to come out, but it doesn't feel like that big of a deal lately. And she still deals with it too, trying to decide when it feels safe to be out, and when it doesn't.
But it sure feels lately like there are more pressing issues to deal with.
Thoughts on the purpose of art (expressive versus studio)
Blah. I feel stuck between the two approaches. Expressive arts is just not that great to do on your own. I feel aimless. I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I'm making stuff but I don't know why. I guess that is okay, that is how it is making art, it is not really much fun.
I just did a mind map to explore connections between last week's theme and this week's theme and to find the meaning and significance it has for me. What is the purpose of making art about it now?
I often see art making as a way to identify what is going on. I just used a more logical process to identify some key things. What now do I do with art? What perspective does expressive arts have on this? What perspective does the studio art perspective bring?
In the studio perspective, there is more of a relationship with the viewer, a sense of communicating to others. That seems to be lacking in expressive arts, at least my experience of it. The audience is irrelevant. It is your own relationship to what you are making that counts. What others think of your work reflects on THEM.
So what do I do now.
More on Movement
For me, expressive arts involves moving. When I pondered the above questions, I realized that what expressive arts has helped me to do is to embody new ways of being. The fact that I didn't know what to do with my body to communicate a sense of belonging felt significant.
Describing a session of movement is so lame, so woo woo. Sorry. What I did was imagine a line, a path from feeling Pushed Out to feeling Accepted and that I belong. This improvised moment of movement included me acting out various ways that I have been wounded, pushed away, judged, self destructive. And then I acted out dignity, self respect, knowing I belong, that I am valued, and how, from that place, I would handle attacks, which was a simple gesture and spoken "no". Walking slowly, and putting up my hand, gently, and saying "no". Honestly, this simple movement made me a little teary.
The aesthetics of healing
What does the art therapy product look like? Free flowing colors, symbols, cliches, exaggerated expressions. Circles, spirals, goddess figures, obvious color associations.
After the movement described above, I did a watercolor, just painted. I painted that sense of having a healthy boundary, knowing who I am, despite what others may think.
Its a plain ugly painting, but the act of creating it went well with the experience of the movement, solidified it.
So what to make of this? What place does this approach have in the studio art approach?
I've made other art that felt really good to make, really personally meaningful. I know you are not supposed to like your own art, but I have a few pieces that I love to just sit and stare at. I love what they symbolize, I love how I painted them.
I do not want these pieces to be evaluated from a studio art perspective. They are too precious to me. The magic of them is way more important to me than whether or not they are any good.
What to do with that?
Not quite done with this week yet, will be doing more on Sunday.
Attended an advanced expressive arts training. The focus was on self love. We did movement, collage, mandalas and some play back theater. I talked about this research project, but it was not really possible to use the day to focus on my theme for the week. I realized how totally scattered I feel, and how difficult it has been for me to go deep into this work and feel freaked out about it. This month has been full of interruptions and bullshit. Fall is the worst time to have scheduled an independent study with everyone returning to school.
Did nothing, was sick. Will be using some of the built in flex time to continue this theme. It does not feel finished.
I feel completely paralyzed. It's been a while since I was creatively blocked. I'm trying to regroup, and refocus what the goal is for these art dives. They are research, they are sketchbook (even if nothing is actually done in a sketchbook). I am playing, I am experimenting. I am not coming up with a finished product, I am building a compost pile to use later. My theme for experimental exploration is the ongoing theme of Belonging/Marginalization. If I make shit, that it is OOOOOOOKKKKKKAAAAAYYYYY.
The realization I had earlier that expressive arts tends to be a series of disconnected activities, and that in studio work there is more continuity, a series, was important. But I need to clarify that expressive arts does have a continuity with the other art forms, but because it is more spontaneous and improvised, it doesn't seem to encourage the ongoing investigation that results in a body of work the way a studio practice does.
I realized that I was not using any of the symbols that have come up for me over the past 4 years since getting a divorce and coming out. A couple of symbols arose out of my expressive arts work, but they stayed separate from my other work. So I decided to invite all of these symbols into this theme and this research.
I felt at home making these simple drawings, and letting my most common symbols (horse woman, stag, various birds and rabbit) play with the two themes I've done so far. The final image (of the rabbit with the falcon, with the other two symbols looking on in pride) was particularly moving to make and contemplate.