Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rhythm and Repetition

Set-up and ready to start encaustics on the sequential pom/grenade sculpture series

Fusing the first layer of green encaustic medium onto the ceramic form.

Not quite done, but has three layers of green applied.

successful glaze firing unloaded today.

I've been thinking about some of the common themes that link all my work as an artist together. There are overlaps in concept that show up time and time again: mythology, war, feminism, spirituality, culture. I have also been thinking of the more concrete connections in my process and technical aspects of my work.

It seems that repetition is a common theme. I don't know how many times I have said to folks "I am not a production potter." It is true, I don't consider myself the typical potter who spends several hours a day cranking out fifty mugs for mass sale. However, I do work at the wheel and have been known to repeat the same form over and over again. It isn't so much that I have to do that, but I am finding that the process of repeating an action over and over is meditative for me.

I have been to plenty of retreats and workshops where I am told to "clear my mind and focus..." Oh, how I try. As well, there have been several attempts in my own private space. I have used 33 RPM records with speakers "guiding me" into that far-off space, or I have tried deep breathing methods, looking at the same spot for....hours? No, probably minutes. Okay, maybe seconds. But my mind always wanders. Ten minutes a day of meditation is supposed to be fabulous for the blood pressure. Why can't I do it?

It never fails, I hear that little creak in the floor in the other room, then my mind starts to wander. Next thing I know my quite un-focused mind is planning out a sculpture or thinking about what to make for dinner.

But there are times when my mind feels completely focused and balanced, when minutes turn into hours and time passes without me being aware. It's when I am working at the wheel, forming a sculpture, drawing, or weaving. These tasks, which all involve some sort of repetition, consume me and transport me to what feels another plane.

The latest fascination in my artwork is with industrial and military images. When thinking about this today, I remembered seeing a movie a few years ago with Bjork as the lead called "Dancer in the Dark, a Dutch musical about a factory worker who is going blind (set in 1960's Washington state). She is saving money for her son to have an operation to prevent the same hereditary disease. Bjork's character, Selma, goes into a trance or dream-like state where she fantasizes being in musical skits.

I thought I would share the video of one particular scene that has stuck with me - emphasizing the rhythm of the machines as she and others dance through the factory.

And while you are grooving to the industrial sounds of factory machines, I am off to grab dinner and sleep, and hope that I can adjust to the new time change with some degree of ease.


5 comments:

Onedia said...

These are incredible. Beautiful.

Owl Who Laughs said...

This is a wonderful blog, creating a spectrum of ideas (and colors!), culminating in a great video.

Art can be found anywhere, even in the dismal machines of a factory.

Great!

SHANNA WHEELOCK said...

an email comment from judy...who had some technical difficulty while trying to post!!
...................................
Not sure exactly why this was stimulated for me by your video clip...but I though you would be moved by it.Have you ever seen the work by this Ukranian sand painter? Extraordinary. This is just one from YouTube. her name is Kseniya Simonova in case this doesn't take you there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=518XP8prwZo

SHANNA WHEELOCK said...

Thanks, Oneidia :) still waiting for you to come to Maine and check things out in-person. :)

SHANNA WHEELOCK said...

Thanks, Owl :)