Monday, August 10, 2015

Native American Insights

     My wife and I just got back from a vacation trip to Santa Fe/Taos, NM in July. For some reason that region of the country has everything I would love to experience on a daily basis. It seems my wife always has to drag me out kicking and screaming... that's another topic. When you consider the beautiful spacious skies, so vibrantly blue and so breathtaking at sunset, showcasing the mountains and hills in such a visual backdrop of glorious color, along with the blend of cultures and peoples... and then there's the art. I just love it. While visiting the Taos Pueblo we were speaking to a native American woman who made us some fresh fry bread. She was sharing a story of how her grandmother used to make fry bread for them and how one particular day her grandmother sat down to eat some of it with them. She told us, "The bread kept falling from her hand to the floor when she would try to put it in her mouth."  She continued on, "It hit the dirt floor several times before my grandmother reached down the last time, rubbed it around in the dirt of the floor and this time popped it in her mouth." She paused for a moment as she knowingly held our rather wide-eyed curiosity as to where this was all going. I thought to myself, "Surely that wasn't the end of the story..." Then the lady casually broke the silence and finished with, "My grandmother said, "The bread doesn't want to be eaten!"" We all laughed together at her story and didn't give it much more thought outside of the fact that the perspectives and perceptions are very interesting when considering cultural differences.
     Last week I finished a painting that I'd started the week before. I had a clear mental image of how I wanted it to look when finished. I started the painting doing everything I felt necessary to prepare for the finished work that would take me the direction I wanted it to go. Little did I know that the painting I wanted to complete DIDN'T WANT TO BE PAINTED!  Or so it appeared. As I continued to work, it continued to progressively change and morph into something I had no initial idea or inspiration for, muchless how to bring it back to my original intent. But I kept going with what the painting seemed to want... I was very frustrated in the beginning stages and quite pleasantly pleased when I finished.
     Sometimes it just seems that art has a mind of its own. That it wants to use YOU as a means of becoming what IT pleases, and not what you intend. Not all the time... but some of the time. And although I don't follow a superstitious means of attaining a finished product, I do enjoy the fun of letting something seem to evolve of its own life force. Creativity can be a thrill to participate in when it seems to be leading you, rather than you directing the shots.
    Like the little old Native American grandmother whose bread didn't want to be eaten, my painting just didn't seem to want to become what I had intended. But that's OK. The bread eventually got eaten anyway and the painting got painted. But the end result was't in line with how we both thought it would happen in the beginning. However, the finished product was still good... even though it seemed to hit the floor a few times before I finished it. Sometimes we should just let that happen. Let the work have a mind of its own.  Here's the piece.

"Dismantled Priorities"
36X36 Mixed Media on wrapped canvas