Artful Engagement

Being at the Festival of Quilts a few weeks ago gave me a great opportunity to see some fantastic fibre art and art quilts, share a big part of my life with Steve, spend time with a new friend and see some familiar faces.  It also touched off a maelstrom of thoughts and a myriad of feelings.  I’m not sure if the whole quilt show/competition/teaching/lecturing/writing a book thing is for me.  When I see people I know who are publishing books and winning prizes, I feel envious and slightly frustrated.  Not because I wish it were me, but because they’ve found a niche, reached a goal that makes them happy.  If I went after those things it would be to try and find recognition of my artwork, the purpose and meaning of it and a sense of belonging outside, like how I used to search for home outside of myself or the way some people covet and acquire material things, but still feel empty inside.

However, the good thing about knowing what I don’t want to pursue is that I am left with a void of quiet, stillness, intimacy, soul, essence and knowing. Here is some of what I know-

  • I’m able to make the work which makes me happy and is meaningful to me – the Little Gems I made, I had been imagining for a couple of years.  I put how I feel about things and how I see the world into what I make.  It’s deep and people who see my work can have a deep response.  That satisfies me.
  • I love to make things that people can wear or meditate on (or both!), with words hidden on the inside, private and intimate.
  • I love to make commissioned work for people and use my communication skills to connect with and discover what a person would like to have expressed in a piece of my artwork.
  • I love to show my work in places where there is space for contemplation, which invite a sacred and soul experience.
  • With teaching, there are people who are far better teachers than I, who can explain the steps and lead people through creating a project.  I love to work with people in a way that combines my counselling skills with spirituality and art-making.  Not necessarily Art Therapy, but deep, healing work via creativity.

So I do know which way to go, but I’ll be making my own map.  It is always scary to find my own way, I worry about getting lost!  It’s wonderful to have found home inside finally and to be making a home together with Steve.  He understands about what I want to do with my artwork and I have the feeling that he will do anything he can to encourage and support me.  I’m also getting gleamings and glimmerings of recognition from real-time friends and from cyber-friends in the wider eCommunity which are invaluable.

In the process of setting up my new studio, I’ve sorted through a bunch of stuff.  I’ve weeded out a lot, but have found and set aside some seeds of ideas that I’ve had in the past couple of years.  In early 2007, I completed a foundation course called ‘Art in Mental Health’ taught by Karen Huckvale and Malcolm Learmonth of InsiderArt.  I decided not to go on and become trained as an Art Therapist, but the course helped me to clarify what my art making means for me and to reflect upon my creative journey.  Here is the paper I wrote at the end of my course.  It was good to re-discover and re-read it.  Artful Engagement reminds me of what it’s all about for me and helps me to chart my course.

Am I creating for approval or the edgy contrast of anti-fame
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2 thoughts on “Artful Engagement

  1. It continues to amaze me how I seem to be reading my own thoughts and feelings with some of your writings Melinda!
    Have started to read your Artful Engagement, and love your quilts. So creative. Your story is interesting so far, but I will have to come back and finish the read later. There’s way too much for my poor tired brain to take in at this time of night!! lol.

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