December 12, 2013

Art Books


I'm making my Christmas list and checking it twice. 
Hopefully Sharon Loudon's new book Living and Sustaining a Creative Life 
will soon be added to my collection! 

hint hint..

Here are a few others from my pile 
all about artists, their studios, memoirs, & interviews





all great books by the way


December 11, 2013

People Don't Actually Like Creativity




Gerhard Richter

Thanks to some facebook friends who shared this article this morning by Jessica Olien posted last week on Slate.com

In the United States we are raised to appreciate the accomplishments of inventors and thinkers—creative people whose ideas have transformed our world. We celebrate the famously imaginative, the greatest artists and innovators from Van Gogh to Steve Jobs. Viewing the world creatively is supposed to be an asset, even a virtue. Online job boards burst with ads recruiting “idea people” and “out of the box” thinkers. We are taught that our own creativity will be celebrated as well, and that if we have good ideas, we will succeed.

It’s all a lie. This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like it. Studies confirm what many creative people have suspected all along: People are biased against creative thinking, despite all of their insistence otherwise.

“We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says Barry Staw, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school who specializes in creativity.

Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.

Even people who say they are looking for creativity react negatively to creative ideas, as demonstrated in a 2011 study from the University of Pennsylvania. Uncertainty is an inherent part of new ideas, and it’s also something that most people would do almost anything to avoid. People’s partiality toward certainty biases them against creative ideas and can interfere with their ability to even recognize creative ideas.

A close friend of mine works for a tech startup. She is an intensely creative and intelligent person who falls on the risk-taker side of the spectrum. Though her company initially hired her for her problem-solving skills, she is regularly unable to fix actual problems because nobody will listen to her ideas. “I even say, ‘I’ll do the work. Just give me the go ahead and I’ll do it myself,’ ” she says. “But they won’t, and so the system stays less efficient.”

In the documentary The September Issue, Anna Wintour systematically rejects the ideas of her creative director Grace Coddington, seemingly with no reason aside from asserting her power.



This is a common and often infuriating experience for a creative person. Even in supposedly creative environments, in the creative departments of advertising agencies and editorial meetings at magazines, I've watched people with the most interesting—the most “out of the box”—ideas be ignored or ridiculed in favor of those who repeat an established solution.

“Everybody hates it when something’s really great,” says essayist and art critic Dave Hickey. He is famous for his scathing critiques against the art world, particularly against art education, which he believes institutionalizes mediocrity through its systematic rejection of good ideas. Art is going through what Hickey calls a “stupid phase.”

In fact, everyone I spoke with agreed on one thing—unexceptional ideas are far more likely to be accepted than wonderful ones.

Staw was asked to contribute to a 1995 book about creativity in the corporate world. Fed up with the hypocrisy he saw, he called his chapter “Why No One Really Wants Creativity.” The piece was an indictment of the way our culture deals with new ideas and creative people:
In terms of decision style, most people fall short of the creative ideal … unless they are held accountable for their decision-making strategies, they tend to find the easy way out—either by not engaging in very careful thinking or by modeling the choices on the preferences of those who will be evaluating them.
Unfortunately, the place where our first creative ideas go to die is the place that should be most open to them—school. Studies show that teachers overwhelmingly discriminate against creative students, favoring their satisfier classmates who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.

Even if children are lucky enough to have a teacher receptive to their ideas, standardized testing and other programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top (a program whose very designation is opposed to nonlinear creative thinking) make sure children’s minds are not on the “wrong” path, even though adults’ accomplishments are linked far more strongly to their creativity than their IQ. It’s ironic that even as children are taught the accomplishments of the world’s most innovative minds, their own creativity is being squelched.

All of this negativity isn’t easy to digest, and social rejection can be painful in some of the same ways physical pain hurts. But there is a glimmer of hope in all of this rejection. A Cornell study makes the case that social rejection is not actually bad for the creative process—and can even facilitate it. The study shows that if you have the sneaking suspicion you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms your interpretation. The effect can liberate creative people from the need to fit in and allow them to pursue their interests.

Perhaps for some people, the pain of rejection is like the pain of training for a marathon—training the mind for endurance. Research shows you’ll need it. Truly creative ideas take a very long time to be accepted. The better the idea, the longer it might take. Even the work of Nobel Prize winners was commonly rejected by their peers for an extended period of time.

Most people agree that what distinguishes those who become famously creative is their resilience. While creativity at times is very rewarding, it is not about happiness. Staw says a successful creative person is someone “who can survive conformity pressures and be impervious to social pressure.”
To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself.


Jessica Olien is a writer and illustrator living in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @jessicaolien.

December 10, 2013

Christmas at my house

every year during the holiday season I try my hardest to stay focused on my work and not get completely sidetracked. this year of course is no exception, and this year like every other year I'll keep dreaming! it's hard enough working through trying to sell your house and having to keep a neat studio, but like it happens every year, my studio is also now filled with Christmas boxes from the attic. I've decided to let it go and embrace what might be our last Christmas in this house. although I told everyone we're keeping it simple this year we keep finding more things to decorate and make for Christmas.

this year we put the tree in a different spot
the traditionalists in the house were not happy but I think it looks lovely,
and neater, which is a new criteria for us
we decided on only white ornaments

but then Anna found this oldie but goodie in red
 
the piano got a make-over

as did the antelope




even the fish tank got some tinsel
and I finally found a purpose for that thing I made in ceramics class




although there were a lot of things we kept in the box this year, simpler is better sometimes. in the end it's kinda nice getting sidetracked by such fun things to do with your family. this year I'm into it, hope you are too!

happy holidays everyone




December 2, 2013

BLEAK FRIDAY

Instead of shopping this weekend I stayed home with my daughter eating leftovers and watching movies.

It didn't take long for the non-stop assault of Black Friday commercials on cable television to get to me. After a while I couldn't take it anymore.



"...if i hear the words black friday one more time...i'm gonna throw up. if you feel the absolute need to get it all over with and buy everyone you love, like and can't stand, a christmas, I mean holiday gift on one and only one day of the year, why the hell do we need to refer to it as black. can't we say red friday, blue, green, orange or anything other than what sounds like the plague is about to hit and destroy the world. yes i agree it's a black day when the freaks at walmart can persuade you to leave your cozy aroma and family filled turkey stuffed living room to get in a cold car and drive in the middle of the night to a flourescent light filled dome with miserable clown like creatures not helping you in a chain store 6 miles away...yes let's please call that bleak, i mean black. if i had to be a part of that i'd think it was the end of the world too...but how did this all get started and more importantly, what's the allure? i just heard a walmart commercial that the item that was originally $109 is now a whopping low of $98. am I missing the math?"

Here's what I ended up watching that night, the decade that made us on the national geographic channel (natgeotv.com). It turned out to be a fascinating documentary on the 1980's, the decade that turned out, not ironically, to be a greed filled capitalistic dream come true.
I found out some amazing things like Ronald Reagan based part of his campaign on the movie Back to the Future, and Tetris was created by a guy in Moscow at the height of the cold war...

Now that it's Cyber Monday, I'm glad that it's almost all over.

I don't mean the holidays, just the bombardment of more more more.

There are five different Santa Clauses on both my neighbor's lawns across the street. My daughter said they should make a law, only one Santa allowed at each house. That way it'd be more believable. I think there should be one less black friday allowed, that way America would be more believable..


November 20, 2013

SOLITUDE



Maybe this is something to address since it keeps popping up. It appears as a major theme in two books I'm currently reading, Rainer Marie Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet and Mary Oliver's Blue Pastures; and it has inadvertently become the topic of several recent phone conversations...

S O L I T U D E
Photos by French artist Maia Flore

The dictionary is really down in the dumps about this word, citing examples of losing loved ones, being put in isolation with infectious diseases, etc. How awful. As an artist I can tell you, solitude is not that bad, in fact it is a much sought after state of being.

You still feel alone when you're by yourself, but when that aloneness becomes a necessary factor to the type of concentration and self reflection that creativity demands, it becomes a very welcome occasion. The idea of being alone with one's thoughts seems absolutely divine to me, and being able to work on my artwork when I want without interruption is pure joy.

Maybe it's not even just artists who feel this way. My friend was just telling me how her kids are so busy all year her daughter recently told her she didn't know who she was anymore because she didn't have a minute to think about it... Obviously we all need those moments to reconnect with ourselves.

from the series Situations by Maia Flore

I think artists just require more of those moments because of the work we do. If we don't know who we are, where is our voice or our vision? And without a clear vision what would our artwork be..

This is what artwrestling is all about!

.....and I guess it comes at no better time because no sooner did I write it down than I spent the whole day today being distracted by phone calls and emails. My daughter read her homework OUT LOUD for half an hour, and my husband has been pacing the floors waiting for me to cook dinner extra early. It's only 3:30! I'm not even doing the type of artwork that I imagine requires that much concentration but every watery mark I make is followed by me having to get up for something. I'm telling myself this is what you get for thinking you could pull this off on the kitchen table...Tomorrow I'll start earlier, but....Hold on, the rice is ready~


Maia Flore











November 12, 2013

Laundry Meat Rope Project

the story of the laundry meat rope project starts with me wanting to create a very large knitted piece. I was imagining it like a large blanket covering an entire gallery floor where you'd have to walk around the edges of it. I began to make yarn out of the laundry meat but it was not holding up well to the demands of knitting.


 all the wrapping and twisting around both knitting needles kept tearing the yarn. so my first thought was to alter the yarn to work better



but I loved the way it looked all by itself; the variations of thickness and color from all the separate batches of laundry meat. I wanted to use the yarn as it was without having it have a specific purpose. I ended up looking at a bunch of youtube videos on how to make rope. using a freshly made batch of laundry meat that I purposely dried in thin strips I started the project.



today's rope making station

on the kitchen table


separate batches of laundry meat piled together. strips are made from this first and then twisted together to make the rope
so far I've made almost 35 feet

details of laundry meat rope



making the rope is an enjoyable process, although at the same time very tedious. it feels very primitive for the fact that there are no tools except my own two hands. and I love the fact that I am creating a potentially useful tool, and then the irony that there's nothing useful about it at all. this is the first time I've worked on a project of this nature and although I have no idea what will become of it, it is satisfying work. it can be very meditative but I find that after a long session of thinking that I'm getting so much done, I've only made a few feet of rope. in retrospect I may conclude that this is just another extension of my fascination with the body and perhaps one can see a correlation to umbilical cords and such, but right now I'm going with a flow that I only subconsciously know anything about!

more on laundry meat here


part of finished project




November 10, 2013

Letters to a Young Poet

My trip to San Francisco didn't yield that many surprises but did give me a lot to think about. 

At City Lights I purchased the book Letters to a Young Poet written by Rainer Maria Rilke to aspiring writer Franz Xaver Kappus between 1902 and 1908. 

Here is an excerpt from 1903 in which Rilke responds to the young writer's first letter asking him for advice:

"You ask whether your verses are good...Now...let me ask you to give up all that. You are looking to the outside, and that above all you should not be doing now. Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody. There is only one way. Go into yourself. Examine the reason that bids you to write; check whether it reaches its roots into the deepest region of your heart, admit to yourself whether you would die if it should be denied you to write. This above all: ask yourself in your night's quietest hour: must I write? Dig down into yourself for a deep answer. And if it should be affirmative, if it is given to you to respond to this serious question with a loud and simple 'I must,' then construct your life according to this necessity; your life right into its most inconsequential and slightest hour must become a sign and witness of this urge. Then approach nature. Then try, like the first human being to say what you see and experience and love and lose..."