Each day during the month of October, I’m creating an ephemeral bricolage art piece. I choose a random word from a book on my shelf by opening a page in the book and pointing to a word without looking. I also started creating a rule for each piece because I like constraints.
Today’s rule was paper. This is an easy one because I’ve had a thing for paper since I was a very young girl. My transitional object at age 5 and for many years after, as I went back and forth over the Cascade Mountain pass from my mother’s house to visit my father was a large manila envelope. I put various bits of paper, old checkbooks from my parents, and whatever other paper objects I could find inside and played with them for hours even before I knew how to write words. My brother called it my Paper Friend. In many ways, paper continues to be one of my better friends. Reliable. Receptive. Beautiful. Goes everywhere with me.
Today’s word is “perceived” from Joseph Cambell’s work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I appreciate receiving this word today as how things are perceived has been on my mind of late. Most especially, I’ve been pondering judgment and how constant it is both in the outer world and in my inner landscape. Judging myself. Judging others. Making assumptions based on judgements. So much judging taints my perception of the beauty of life and yet it’s so hard to rid myself of. It isn’t that compassion isn’t right there hoping to smooth out the wrinkles if I want to choose it. It’s just hard to choose it sometimes. Being in the moment helps. Remembering that we’re all doing the best we can helps. Re-membering. That’s what I’m doing with these bricolage pieces. Remembering what’s lovely about the world and myself with shells, words, ink, and bits of paper.
Speaking of lovely paper, did you know that the Book of Kells is available for viewing online? Well, now you do. It’s beautiful. I noticed that you can also buy a scanned copy for your own library. What a world we live in! The film Secret of Kells from the fabulous Flatiron Film Company that features this book is a stunning work of art. We watch it at least once a year.
“La Loba sings over the bones she has gathered. To sing means to use the soul-voice. It means to say on the breath the truth of one’s power and one’s need, to breathe soul over the thing that is ailing or in need of restoration…That is singing over the bones.”
Today’s randomly chosen word is alone and comes from The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou. It’s interesting that my random process brought this word because, despite being surrounded by people I had a false sense of feeling alone this morning, of feeling like nobody cares about me or that I have to do this life thing all alone. That anxious voice inside that convinces me that there is something lacking in my life.
I used to think that I didn’t suffer from anxiety but realized that, for me, it manifests in feelings of isolation and tends to get stuck in my body. An anagram of “anxiety” is “an exit”. Noticing that anxiety exists helps me to find a portal for it to leave–an exit. This Bricolage Project is doing that for me. As art making often does, it’s taking me out of the endlessly looping thoughts and into the present moment where I am okay with being alone. Okay with just being here noticing without expectations or a need to be or do something in particular.
My rule for this piece was that whatever ended up in the frame had to remind me of the goodness in my life. The coins are there because I found them while biking today. The picture I took many years ago with a polaroid camera that I eventually gave away to someone who needed it more than I did, and everything else has been given to me.
So far, making the rule has been my favorite part of this experience. I tend to prefer my own rules, generally speaking. 😉
Today’s bricolage comes from the beach at Carkeek Park which has been my go-to place for contemplation for 16 years. There is little that I can’t process emotionally or mentally when I’m near the water at that particular beach. My only rule for this piece was that the objects had to come from beach.
The (randomly chosen) word girlhood comes from the lovely children’s book, Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit by Amrita Das. An excerpt from the book that I can so relate to is:
CHILDHOOD. Mine was far my idyllic, though not untypical. I was responsible for a great deal when I was very small, and my girlhood passed even before I knew it.
So where did that leave my story? I struggled with myself, talked things over with my friends and my teacher but all I had were ideas, nothing concrete.
This is often something that happens with girls–the responsibilities we have in our families keep us from being given the opportunity to explore our interests. We are less encouraged to do so and our aspirations and ideas given less merit. Despite receiving more college and graduate degrees, women are still paid less than men. I’m taking a poetry class with poet Douglas Kearney at present and wrote this poem this morning. It occurs to me as I write this how it reflects my thoughts about the value of the Feminine–the indwelling nature of life. Concepts of ownership and value continue to be part of our cultural conversations and are certainly very alive in my own consciousness.
weighted leathered hexagon
beauty enhanced with
(how many hands have touched it?)
protruding navel like an
labyrinthine inner nature concealed
(sticky sweetness contained)
Illumined with flickering
explored with eyes and fingertips
turning it over in my warm hands to reveal
a barcode sticker pressed tight
against red skin
as if we can assign human value to Nature’s bounty
As I will continue to do in this series, I will end with a quote. This, from Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu:
“We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets,
to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled
with a rose that is bedecked with dew…
Human beings are actually created for the transcendent,
for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful…
and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world
a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.”
I found this quote in an online Jungian group this morning. His words underscore my intention for the Bricolage Project–to notice and celebrate the beauty and truth in life and to allow my creative meanderings a place to expand and my ideas to become more concrete.
It’s been a minute since I’ve written on this blog, chief among them graduate school at Antioch University Seattle. I’ll be finished soon and my thesis is done. Done. It won’t be long before I have a piece of paper that says MAEd.
It’s hard to believe, to be honest. It’s been a long and winding two years since I started that journey. I’ve been doing some reflection and synthesis as I plan and birth the next phase of life. The combination of finishing something as enormous as a master’s thesis and creating art recently got my creative juices flowing. I have a deep love for ephemeral art so I decided to create a series of bricolage each day during the month of October. Here’s the first:
The word nameless was chosen at random by pointing at a word on a page of Henry Miller’s book “The Wisdom of the Heart“. I took this photo with my cell phone (part of my personal bricolage process with much of my art) then ran it through a free online photo editing site that I found called PicMonkey. I used it to crop and enhance (I used the “Tranquil” filter).