What to do: Push boundaries

Mal | Art Journal,Art Process and Creativity | Thursday, May 14th, 2009

As I was looking through some old journals, I got a needed reminder about experimentation.

Mexico Wire Play

These scans are from an older journal — artwork done on a Mexico trip a few years ago. I mentioned when I posted some of my Mexico pages a few weeks ago that I had gone on this trip without taking a camera. That’s how serious I was about visual journaling at the time.

But, I didn’t just sketch and paint in my journal. At that time, I was so into visual journaling that I started to push the boundaries of what could or should be included in a journal. In a bound book. On paper, even. The spread above has shapes I made from some colored wire that I found. These are attached to the page with glue. Later in the book, I attached another wire sculpture to the page with stitches. It’s wonderful.

Mexico Swatches

What happens when we push the boundaries between the expected and the unexpected? The possible and impossible? The traditional and non-traditional? We can end up with tin foil, popsicle sticks, and snippets of armature wire stitched into books (as above). Swatches of colored masking tape. A traced-around pair of scissors. We invite happy accidents. We shake off experiments that don’t quite work. We move on.

Mexico Coins

On this page, I remember I really wanted to include some of the Mexican coins in my journal. They were so beautiful — so much more artistic than our boring, patriarchal, American coins. I tried several ways (glue, tape, etc.) but each time, the coins fell out. So, instead, I made rubbings of the coins, cut them out and pasted them into the book. I’ll never forget the cafe where I sat as I worked on this. It’s not something I would have ever done before, but I was experimenting.

I don’t have other great words of wisdom on this today. As you can see, these pages were made almost 5 years ago. Today I feel somewhat overwhelmed by issues at work, the sort-and-purge project at my apartment, a complicated social life and (of all things) budgeting. But, I am reminded that sometimes experimenting — pushing the boundaries of what we are accustomed to — is a quick little pathway to freedom.

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