January 7, 2016 by smithartonline
Anticipating a Papergirl exhibition this year, I have begun working with raw muslin surfaces. There are a few rules for the Papergirl projects, one of which is the work must be able to be rolled up at the conclusion of the show. The work is then distributed to the community as a gift. The concept of rolled art is very much in line with the Tibetan thangka paintings which were devotional artworks stored rolled up. Having the good fortune of living near the USC Pacific Asia Museum, there are a number of thangka paintings available to view. I adapted this traditional art form to create a painting to roll up for Papergirl.
An additional influence is the work of First Nation artists. The Autry Center in Los Angeles has a number of decorated utilitarian objects on display at any given time. There is often an addition of buttons and/or beads which I find charming, This addition is simply a way of celebrating the preciousness of the added objects: they do not seem to provide any needed service and I am to understand there is no particular religious or power within the objects. They are simply pretty objects that someone found to be pleasing…precious to the creator.
I sewed on a few buttons just to be design elements. There is nothing special, just something interesting found and added to the surface of the painting. I like the feeling of an ongoing relationship between the viewer/creators and the work Adding elements at various times emphasizes the continual evolution of the art piece. I think it would be very cool if others start adding their own bits and bobs to the painting…allow it to evolve.
I have been playing with the whaler/whale image recently: the relationship between human and animal worlds is starting to become a focus of late, so I guess this combination of images is the result. Pope Francis has been actively promoting a greater understanding of the relationship between the world and humans, and of course this relationship has been very central to many of the First Nation and Eastern religions, particularly the Buddhist and Shinto religions, from their inception. There truly can be a practical application of religion and human responsibility to protect the Earth and her inhabitants.
This work is pretty random as far as any specific meaning…I have my own interpretation, but I suspect- even encourage – others to bring their own views to the table. I have a rather mystical view of art in that I believe the artist simply is the vehicle for a work of art to become manifest. Often the meaning is just as mysterious to me as to anyone else. As a result, the viewer is urged to make personal connections and really become part of the process of understanding the work presented. Make it your own.