Make & Enjoy

October 15, 2013


Last night I worked my last Monday serving shift, and attempted to be patient as I waited for tables to show up. This eventually led to scrolling through feedly, where I read a most exciting announcement from The Jealous Curator-- news about her to-be-released-in-January book!

The cover is particularly gorgeous.

I'd known Danielle was going to write a book, and I was mostly pumped because, although I know very little about visual art (save that one art history class in college), I really like Danielle's taste. We have similar jealousies. But now I'm REALLY thrilled about the book, because she announced that it's about my favorite topic: creative blocks. Danielle is showcasing the work and ideas of 50 artists, and their tips/exercises for working through creative stuck-ness. Holy awesome.

OK. So, I know a thing or two about stuck-ness, because that's why I started writing in this space. I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to create and enjoy the process. My little 10 minute dance back in May was the first thing I'd made for myself (meaning, not as a part of someone else's project) since June of 2011. I took a long break from making things, because it felt exhausting: it made me broke, lonely, tired, and generally frustrated. Gross.

Luckily I realized that most of my artistic struggles were about ME and my approach to creating, rather than actually being about art making itself. My spring project used a very different approach, financially, energetically, and mentally. I had so much fun! I felt really good about the work.

But that piece was 10 minutes, and now I'm making a 40 minute one that will be presented as its own evening. This brings me to my second point:

#2: I Started My New Project!

Well, a little bit. I'm halfway through the audition process, and I'm having a great time meeting new people and imagining what this project could look like. Reading about Danielle's book made me think a bit about my hopes for the next few months. Specifically: hopes that I can stay flexible, patient, and trusting. Even more specifically: hopes that I can enjoy the ride, apply my process from the Spring, and not get too caught up in the world of self-perpetuated pressure. Which brings me to a particular mindset:

#3: It's A Great Big Experiment

I loved working on Alison Anderson Holland's project because she totally embraced the 'It's A Great Big Experiment' mentality, which I think is essential to most art-making. With Alison's project, she never knew how many community members were going to show up to meetings or contribute ideas. She remained flexible, and open to different outcomes. I like this approach because:                   
  • Some things are outside of our creative control. --and--
  • Why not enjoy that/learn from that, instead of pushing against it?
  • It allows us to focus on the things that ARE within our control (like showing up to a rehearsal prepared).
  • It sets up expectations that are less...personal. The success or failure of said experiment isn't related to whether or not we're  smart/talented/capable/good people. We show up and do the work, and keep an open mind. 
This reminds me of when I make my six-year-old students raise their right hands and solemnly swear things regarding good classroom behavior. I, Laura Holway, do solemnly swear to enjoy this mysterious artistic process for the next five months...

What makes for a successful creative process for you? What have you made and enjoyed and not been tortured by? Why did you enjoy the process?

[Photos from making our dance film Tuesday.]


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