Nov 6 – a nearby forest preserve in Naperville, Illinois is where I shot these using the “Special Effects” setting on my trusty Android
It feels that I was born to create. My media include words, fabric, buttons and food ingredients.
This blogging is more than an adventure, I hope it becomes a lifestyle. My blog name refers to my mother whose legacy to me is all things creative. Not so much the food part – she was too busy creating to focus on anything more than the necessities of nutrition. I often wondered why ingredients like onion were in such big chunks in the dishes she prepared. My conclusion is that my mum did not take the extra time to make them smaller! She wanted to return to her creating!
I looked at the pile of glass tile, broken ceramic cups and cracked bowls dumped together in the box which was shoved underneath the work bench. The thought, years ago, was that these could be used to create a beautiful mosaic. It took me a while to retire the broken cup, but hiding it away to be resurrected for another use was comforting. That was seven years ago. As for the glass tile, these have some flecks that create interesting reflective properties, and they are quite pretty, but also pretty useless right now. But when they are put together with others or broken into another shape they begin to reflect light. As for other supplies, the tile nipper is nearby, a menacing looking tool, with 2 very sharp cutting wheels, yet quite ingenious in its ability to “nip” just the right amount of glass away to fit into a design. Like a puzzle, each piece contributes to the whole.
All of these create a telling metaphor for me: Sometimes I’m weighed down by the brokenness of the world, of people, and all this reminds of a collection of broken pieces. In a pile, the brokenness is merely a mess, chaotic and useless, a reminder of its past life or potential. Furthermore, some of the individual pieces can cause pain when handled because of all those sharp edges, yet in a mosaic the pieces reside nearby, sometimes quite snugly next to each other, stabilized by the grout. In a mosaic, there is a combined ability to reflect the light optimally. The effect is stunning. (Early 12th century mosaics still tell their stories today). Even jagged edges have a place in the design. Interestingly, the mortar secures the design elements, the grout unifies it. In contrast, non-grouted designs can stay that way for quite a while, but a lot gets caught in the open spaces and channels, and the picture or design is incomplete.
Back to the title, what does this have to do with community? Well, people belong together in all their brokenness. I think of the mortar as shared histories, the foundation of community. The grout is our shared lives, flowing between us.
Personal parallel – broken bits of my life are piled together and put away in a jumble in my mind. Like “giveaways” stashed in the garage to be sent to some donation center or displayed for sale at a garage sale. Some memories are too messy to look at, yet too precious to throw away. They take up a lot of “mental room” energy, occupy my dreams, inform my decisions, and remain sharp reminders of being unresolved. When I share these memories, their worth increases sometimes becoming useful and even priceless because the re-telling helps someone else on their journey.
In college two of my classes, Art History 101 and Histology 300, exposed me to the skill of identifying something larger from something smaller. At the beginning of the semester in Histology we were given slide views of human tissue slices that were magnified to show just a few cells. In Art history the view would focus on a bit of sculpture or architecture, very close up to show a single sculptural figure or the design of just the frieze, or sometimes just a single decoration. The objective was to identify the larger system (Histology) or form (Art Hist) and be graded on this ability. Twenty plus years later I still recall the sickening feeling after viewing these samples as I thought “This is impossible!” and then the later unspoken conclusion that I would fail miserably. In Histology, these were tissue slides and those black bits called nuclei or the border called a cell wall, just looked like, well, the other slide with the same things in different colors or with different backgrounds. (A doodler since childhood, these resembled some of my more elaborate doodles suspended in colored backgrounds, a very weird Doodle Soup). It was like looking through a pinhole, and trying to see the whole picture. My outward expression must have been one of many looks betraying such thoughts as we were assured by the instructor that soon enough we too would be able to identify the larger picture. Class after tissue class slides were viewed, structures were discussed and just a few classes in, I became acquainted with, and skilled at, identifying the structures. To this day I marvel at the inner workings of human biology, the cellular intricacies that work in concert on a daily basis. In art, these lessons imbued me with a respect for the minutiae that is necessary to make a complete (and complicated) whole.
These lessons also provided a life metaphor for me: Viewing only a single aspect of a situation or standing too close to a picture or object can obscure the larger meaning or view. One swath of color on a painted landscape viewed up close looks like…a swath of paint. It is only when one stands far enough back that the contribution to the entire landscape is revealed: the swath is part of the sky flowing into the painted terrain. In our personal lives, this vantage point can cause an emotional prejudice that prevents one from moving forward or accepting the larger challenge. How many times have I started a project or a new venture, only to withdraw after losing sight of the expanse of success and joy beyond the immediate challenge?
As I write this, my very first blog entry, I am stepping out beyond the initial dark spot of apprehension that is a vital component of starting something new.