I feel like I’m a bit of a mess, and I think this work, and perhaps, especially this poem, reflects that.
I suppose my work is always kind of messy, but it seems like its becoming increasingly so. Perhaps, it is what Ellen Ullman describes as “the outward manifestation of the messiness of human thought”.
Even in the best of times my mind is a mishmash of cluttered quandaries, but these days…its a joyless tangle of disorder and chaos, and it’s not pretty.
Maybe that’s ok.
Austin Kleon writes that “Art is not only made from things that ‘spark joy’. Art is also made of what is ugly and repulsive to us.” He says that “Part of the artist’s job is to help tidy up the place, to make order out of the chaos, to turn trash into treasure, to show us beauty where we can’t see it”.
I think what I struggle to see most are the “Gifts and possibilities” that John O’Donohue says “unexpectedly arrive on the tables of those in despair and torment.” Maybe we all do, and maybe that’s why we need art.
In his book, Blessed are the Weird, Jacob Nordby writes that “the highest-value currency is not money or faster machines; it is the ability to see and see and keep seeing the world through different eyes—and then do something with the unique way you see it.”
In a similar way, Artist Abraham Cruzvillegas says that artists “create nothing…We just rearrange things in different ways, in different manners”. We simply “make different organizations of matter and energy”.
There’s something so pragmatically poetic about that recognition. It’s a hopeful realization of the hopelessness of some kind of ultimate “transformation”.
Most things that are broken will continue to be broken. We can’t always sweep away the contents of the mess. Sometimes we can’t squelch the chaos but, we can rearrange it until we can begin to see it differently.
And in that way, maybe seeing is believing…
John O’Donohue writes that “There is no one—regardless of how beautiful, sure, competent, or powerful—who is not damaged internally in some way.” He says that “We are particularly adept at covering our inner wounds, but no wound is ever silent” and “Every inner wound has its own particular voice.”
Perhaps art is the unique ways in which we begin to rearrange the organizations of our damaged disarray and the structures of our internal suffering, giving voice to the particular wounds that refuse to be silent in the hopes that we will begin to see the sound of our sufferings as a song.
Austin Kleon explains that “Creativity is about connections, and connections are not made by siloing everything off into its own space. New ideas are formed by interesting juxtapositions, and interesting juxtapositions happen when things are out of place.”
Perhaps that’s why collage is such an apt medium of expression for me. Collage is all about things out of place, rearranged, and juxtaposed.
Perhaps, I, myself, am a collage. Maybe we all are.
I feel so out of sorts, so out of whack, so out of order, so out of place, and I make art as a means of making the mess of myself meaningful. It’s a mess that I can move around until it resembles something beautiful. I rearrange and reorder the shattered fragments and jagged pieces of myself into different organizations, with the expectant aspiration of what a new arrangement might reveal.
And so I scream, often without hope, in the hopes that as my world seems to sink I may be able to see, find, and maybe even make some beauty in it…