on process :: boredom

i am in the thick of it. and by it i mean preparation for my show and teaching. and if that wasn't enough i'm still a mom. oh and i agreed to do a live internet TV stint [i think i'm might have lost the part of my mind that makes sound decisions].

i have been utilizing every small moment of time to work on something. i crochet while the little eats. i sit across from her and we talk and she eats and i crochet.

i work on a very mundane part of a piece during the little's nap time. i have learned that if it's a task that i can pick up and leave off easily i can do it while she sleeps. if it's something that is more open ended and process/creative oriented i can't. because her nap will be over and i will be in work mode and i can't exit that gracefully.

the last few semesters i have been having my professional practice class watch the artist is present - a documentary about the amazing artist marina abromovic. if there is anyone who is a role model for dedication to one's practice - for going ALL IN - it is her. 

she was interviewed by larry rinder and a snippet of it was played on city arts and lectures and i was listening while punching holes and pulling thread through a series of circles i had stamped on a drawing. in essence just tasking on a piece for my show. 

[the image below is progress on this drawing. 100 colors - the threads dangle from the drawing to the floor. they are basically pooled there.]


he asked her something about process and about how she can do things that require so much endurance and often is such a boring thing [like sitting still]. she said something about how an artist has to push past boredom. that it is AFTER the boredom that knowledge is gained and something happens. 

in the middle of the most mundane of tasks i could only nod my head and agree. 

this is something i am always trying to discuss with students. with varying degrees of success. art is not always about being "fun", or "creative", or even "fulfilling". in the grand scheme of things it can be all of those. in fact for some people it IS those things all the time [lucky them]. 

sometimes the BEST art, or the art making that is the most meaningful to both the maker and the viewer [although this could be for entirely different reasons], is one that has a very boring component to it. boredom is not a bad thing at all. it can in fact open up a door to a new place you've never been before. [which is anything but boring]. 


[the image above is the accumulation of the 1000 doilies ]

the more i work in the studio and make my work the more i realize that in many ways i set myself up for what end up feeling like a feat of overcoming plebeian tasks. that in some way the actual process of repetition, the accruing of time and work and effort ends up accumulating in a way i can't anticipate. it conglomerates into something that is bigger than me. something that is outside of me. something that includes - i hope - a fragment of magic, luck, beauty, concentration, wonder, introspection, discovery, humor - whatever it is that seems to be the KEY to good art.

i could easily say that it is in some ways meditative [and it is], but that feels too easy. it is something other than just meditative. something that doesn't have a word that i know of.


[the above is 1000 small red circle stamps. and my progress of filling each one with a french knot]

i'm also realizing is that in many ways my recent pursuit as an artist is a distillation. in some ways it's the pursuit of tossing aside [not away because who knows when i might want to return or use these things] what is unnecessary and figuring out what is the least amount needed to fulfill both my visual and conceptual intents. this is counter to what our culture is always pushing. the search for more, better, bigger...

for me this pursuit of less is wrapped up in pushing past boredom. it happens in my setting of parameters that forces me to problem solve in different ways. it's IN the act of forcing myself to do something over and over. for this show it's the knowledge that each piece must have an element of 1000 for it to be complete. it is both comforting - because it MUST be - and maddening - because it MUST be.

i realize that more and more it is this IN BETWEEN-NESS that is important. again and again i return here. and i find comfort [beyond the boredom].


Anne Marie said…
I love "in between-ness", and I love how you describe your experience, your pursuit... and I love your work.

Good luck on the
1000 comforting-maddening!!!
Anonymous said…
What a great post!

As you may know, Zen monks spend many years doing 'boring' meditation and other 'menial' tasks. Gradually, eventually, they learn how to clear their minds from the clutter of daily life and to achieve a calmer peace of mind. In rare moments, they experience a clarity, called satori, which is reportedly 'awesome.'

Sound familiar?
√Čireann said…
yes. yes. and I really needed to hear this today when I am trying to write and finding huge blank spaces in my mind—boredom with my work manifest. just keep going.

trust the work. meditative but also just trusting, just keeping going, almost blanker than meditation.

I so enjoy reading what you write about your process. Yes to boredom. And yes to failures too. We need both to get to that place we want to be.
Janey G said…
what a fabulous post! x
That was refreshing. :)

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