Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain

When I was in Oklahoma in 2005-2006 (fall and spring), I spent a lot of my free time at a small park. It was a nature walk and running trail with lots of trees, and a surprising number of animals, situated on a near barren windy plain. There were some hills and this space was tucked in; the trees created a shelter, which, I suppose, explains the number of animals: foxes, quail, rabbits, hawks, turtles. I would run or walk there almost every night. 

I took a series of photographs there one fall evening around 4 p.m. I love the golden amber quality of the light during that time. These are just three from that series. I was playing with my crocheted organisms and the natural space. They were outsiders to this place just like me. They were trying to make sense of the place, hold on to it, and find root -- like me. I put them in trees mostly as places of refuge against the windswept plain. 

The bright artificial acrylic yarn that I used wasn't as much of a contrast as I might have expected; instead, the colors complemented the intensity of the blue sky and the fiery red-orange of the fall leaves. My pieces were no less natural than what was already there. Ensuring the documentation of these two pieces on that day was very important. I knew I was about to give the work away and I needed to have something that would last as a record for myself and to share. I made the work to give away. Not to just anyone, but to specific someones who would appreciate their strangeness and unique qualities. Not that yarn is a difficult medium to maintain, but I expect the work to droop, to get dusty, to be put away, to be attacked by cats, to be crushed and refluffed, to age and by getting rid of it I am absolved of all of those issues. I don't see it. It stays perfect against a blue sky with a crisp fall wind. It's not that I don't care about what happens next. Quite the opposite, I think moving it (a crocheted lump) out into the world is where it starts to get interesting and develop its own independence apart from me.

Todd and I talk about this quite a bit, very intensely at times. What is my project? Why am I making these, what do I want to do? For a long time, for me, it has been about perfecting technical challenges from my imagination and placing them, through a gift economy, with a friend that might accept the challenges of owning it and might appreciate the labor and imagination. (By gift economy, I mean as a birthday or holiday present in place of an itunes card or the like. It doesn't cost me money, but it acts in place of money spent for an identical purpose.) 

So how is this art? Is this art? Is this craft? Is it a hybrid? Is it photography or even performance or conceptual art? Maybe the latter or maybe none of the above. I took it one step further this year when I created a piece divorced of a planned recipient - the 500X show piece (see the first entry in this blog). I created it to be mine to enter in the open juried show. It was accepted and my secret life in crochet was partially exposed. Most people still don't realize that was mine or what lies behind it. My intention was to create more like it, but I haven't yet. Plenty of ideas, but my crochet has turned more practical lately with my current Etsy obsession. I'll turn back and explode with a force. With Etsy, I crochet daily and my speed and execution have never been faster. I just need to relax and refocus to determine what to make next, how to display/photograph/gift/or keep, and what it will be.