Tag Archives: contemporary art

Cutting, Crocheting, Same Thing?

So I have addictions in my family.

I do.

Recently I have been creating textile art projects – knit and crochet. I had also read an article about ‘cutting” and wondered how people do this. I heard a speaker talk about ‘cutting’ as a way to counteract psychological pain. I still could not get my head around actually taking a box cutter and doing controlled cuts: the blood drops, the permanent scars, the hiding of the body. How does one hide one’s arms – from everyone?

The other night as I continued to crochet long after my shoulders and neck hurt. And went back to it again the next pain-filled day. A question came to me: “Is this any different from ‘cutting’, really?”

Well I have been creating ‘Circle Flowers’ for a pop-up love gifting. At least my pain is producing something good, I thought, ‘Cutting’ is just destructive and a call for help.

It was then that I saw them as the same. The meaning is mixed – perhaps because a moral judgement is irrelevant. I am no different. Perhaps my scars will come from carpel tunnel.

So I find myself wondering: “What pain am I trying to counteract?” and “Am I addicted now to creating beauty?” and “Am I damaging my neck to crochet for so long?” again “Why do I have to do this?” and “What am I hiding?”

Life is complicated. ‘Handle with Prayer’ is the old saying. I also practice contemplative knitting. I contemplate God. I contemplate myself. I pray. Is this contemplative knitting becoming an addiction? Can I tell the difference or is life a mash-up of healthy and destructive habits with a permeable line between?

I am not ready to look at my other addiction, Netflix, no.

Anyway, here is an image of my small ‘Circle Flowers’ installation as a love gift for all those engineering students at UBC who need some art love. Maybe, somehow, if anyone cuts with all the stress of midterms, the art love will give them a reprieve and with prayer, some healing – as I am healing in rest today.

And by the way – Happy International Women’s Day!

Christians for Biblical Equality – academic accessible ideas on Christian Feminism

IMG_1237

“Circle Flowers Installation by DS at UBC”

Redaction and Collage

IMG_2994

“Scripture Fragment” 2016 DS

The penny has dropped. The light bulb has gone on. Redaction and collage are the same. One pieces together the writings of others. The other gathers and glues found images. The author/artist unites them with a few of her own ideas. What could be better?

These seem to be very postmodern pastimes. Yet they are each ancient practices. DeSilva a Bible scholar and Rauschenberg a prolific artist of found objects may make strange companions but have worked in similar ways.

Redaction criticism of the Gospels pays particular attention to the differences between each fragment of text preserved. These differences cannot be collapsed together without losing the authentic voice of each of the four Evangelists. They serve an important purpose. That said, in piecing together the Jesus sayings, the redactors see that they form a related whole.

In my mind, the redactors of the ancient texts are actually like collagists. They take what is there and fit the pieces together like skilled artists use binder. The Spirit helps the redactors of Scripture like rabbit skin glue or synthetic medium promotes the harmonization of disparate images do for the artist. Authentic meaning is both discovered and made:

Presentation of the passage often connects directly with the themes or topics that are of greatest interest to the Evangelist.

Taken from (An Introduction to the New Testament by David A. deSilva)

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) took 2D and 3D fragments of everyday life: a bed, a goat, a tire, or a bird, or a newspaper item, mixing together elements of high and low art to present to the world his unique skill in portraying both art and life. Memories of childhood fragments influenced his masterful work:

His mother, Dora, was a devout Christian and a frugal woman. She made the family’s clothes from scraps, a practice that embarrassed her son, but possibly influenced his later work with assemblages and collage.

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-rauschenberg-robert.htm

Redaction must be one of the most basic activities of life. Go for the gold then, when a surfeit is received. The opposite venture leads to a ‘less is more’ way. We gather and we purge, write and redact. We create paintings and we sell them. We birth children, then we say goodbye to them. Art and life are collaged by the Spirit.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

(Book of Ecclesiastes)

Spontaneous Storytelling

Image

“Apple Woman” DS collage book

Spontaneous Storytelling

Yesterday during the workshop one story after another came up as I presented the contemplation and collage material.  I got to tell quite a bit about Kurt Schwitters, the one whose philosophy of recycled collage I follow.  I even told the part of his story where a Scottish connection comes in.  In brief: he was in a prisoner of war camp in Scotland and created collages there out of found papers as was his habit.  When he was moved down to England the guards threw out his collages thinking they were garbage.  Millions of dollars in collages were lost to the arts community.  A few years ago I was privileged to see some of his small collages in the Vancouver Art Gallery – each one valued at over a million dollars.

Things went on from there to a partial history of collage going from a craft (Valentine’s cards) to an art form largely due to Schwitters work.  Into the conversation came “Spiral Jetty” an example of earth art in Utah by Robert Smithson.  Questions were asked about art, especially contemporary art and on it went.

As I continued to give direction in starting their recycled collage books I passed around my own book – one of several that tell the story of my life in coded/collaged form.  When I came to the page “Apple Woman” I relayed briefly about the time of spiritual encouragement when I broke my ankle and had a long recovery.

In these groups we contemplate many things about ourselves, about God and about our lives that are art-infused.  I think of the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Matthew 25).  We need to be ready; to be familiar with our stories – relayed as hope to others.  Sometimes it is only a few words about our own experience.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

I Peter 3:5

Collage Art History Precedent

Contemplation and Collage on a cold winter's night

Contemplation and Collage on a cold winter’s night

ART HISTORY PRECEDENT: Kurt Schwitters – In the 1920’s a German Dada artist appeared of the scene with exciting personal expressions of collage made out of ordinary papers some even found on the street. He used household papers, bus tickets, string, letters – whatever he picked up. He was the one who made collage truly a fine art and has strongly influenced many contemporary art developments. A story is told of his passing of time creating collage in a Scottish prisoner of war camp during World War II. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of collages went unrecognized and were thrown out by the prison guards and lost to the art world – DS.