created nor destroyed…the total amount of mass and energy in the universe is constant. —Law of Conservation of Mass, discovered by Antoine Lavoisier in 1785
matter: the formless substratum of all things which exists only potentially and upon which form acts to produce realities —Merriam Webster
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of matter and how I spend my time, resources, and energy. I’m not a first responder, teacher, food producer, or any of the many admirable front line workers that kept us going during this remarkably challenging COVID19 year.
I’m an artist and making things and thinking about making things takes up a lot of my time…most actually. I think in potential constantly to produce other realities.
So, does making art in my basement studio matter in any way right now?
I just don’t know.
Here’s what I do know. I was unsettled the other day. I cleaned my studio. There was a lot of cardboard. I rescued it from the recycling. I created the work below. I felt much more settled.
Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
I was going through photos today and realized that my memories from January and February seem like a lifetime ago. Us Vermonters are now in the 5th week of sheltering in place. It’s quite remarkable how much the world has changed in such a short time. WOW!
I decided to give my not-so-old images a treatment to make them appear as vintage and fading as they now feel to me. I provided captions for the images and a few links below.
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it is a memory.” ― Dr. Seuss
I’ve been working in my studio on the #100dayartchallenge2020. I made this dress, it’s roughly Barbie size. While working on it, and on hour two, I suddenly felt completely ridiculous. Lisa, you’re a total fraud of an artist. What the hell am I doing?This doesn’t make any difference in the world during the pandemic.
I sought some guidance and landed on Dear Sugar—Cheryl Strayed’s New York Times podcast…her guest was Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood and her perspective about this time in history boosted me significantly.
Margaret Atwood…every human on the planet who has something to contribute about the story of us. And I think that that’s what’s so powerful about that moment of that understanding that, yes, we can bear witness, as you say. We don’t have to be a novelist. We don’t have to be a poet. We can do that even as a person.
This is the time to tell the story of us in whatever way speaks to you personally. Journal. Saving e-mails from friends and family. Cleaning. Music. Writing. Art. Sewing. Cooking. Reading. Making masks. Studying something new to prepare yourself for whatever comes next, or simply to amuse yourself.
It’s all worthwhile, Margaret said so.
My art isn’t going to change the world by any means, but maybe my hum of discovery, being in flow, problem solving and some small sense of completion is having some miniscule impact. I know it does on the anxiety level in my own home anyway. “Mom, go make something” has been a common refrain over the years.
I’m creating art out of nothing, using stuff I find in my messy basement studio. After hearing Margaret talk about the book Art & Energy by Barry Lord, my efforts felt a tiny bit, ever-so-slightly more relevant.
Margaret Atwood: So I’ve got a little bit of perspective, which is a man called Barry Lord, who wrote a book called“Art & Energy,” in which he connects the kinds of culture you have with the kind of energy that is supporting it…And then oil comes along. And it’s very cheap, and it doesn’t take that many people to produce it. And you get a culture of consumption. Lots of cheap stuff. But we’re now transitioning into renewable energy. And that will produce and is producing right now a culture of stewardship.
Hopefully stewardship or some version of it anyway is what’s coming next. Just imagine all of the possibilities…
stewardship: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care, stewardship of natural resources (Merriam Webster)
Thank you New York Times, Cheryl Strayed, Margaret Atwood and Barry Lord.