Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts 2017

The following post is by Beth, a current student in Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts:

I’ve always been more of a solitary maker. I like to sit in a room by myself, plug in a podcast, and draw/collage/sketch/whatever. But other times I sit down, and I just don’t know what to do. No guiding direction jumps out at me. Or I get bored, only working off the same ideas that have been circulating endlessly in my own head.

The MAEA collaboration cracks open the door and lets some fresh air in. We started with painting, then cut the paintings into shapes, then collaged the shapes together. All of which developed into an abstract, dimensional, colorful composition. This whole process isn’t something I would have arrived at on my own. It was through sharing materials and ideas along the way that the project evolved the way it did. We all worked individually on a small painting in acrylic, watercolor, or alcohol ink. Then later, we pooled our pieces together to cut and collage, pulling from everyone’s painted pieces.

There are some artists out there who like the glory of bringing a unique, singular, genius idea into the world through their work. But that’s not really my style. Rather, I’ve discovered that I prefer the surprise of working with others to create something unique and singular that couldn’t have existed if I had just been working alone.

This class has been a reminder to play, and not take myself or my work so seriously all the time. It can be satisfying to plan a project out and see it through start to finish. But it’s important to let things happen naturally sometimes. A lot of times, the unexpected stuff can lead to the greatest discoveries. In addition, don’t be afraid to take scissors to something – by breaking apart a painting that’s beautiful in and of itself, you can build it into something even greater. And look to the world, the people around you. There is talent and knowledge in your surroundings if you just reach out to tap into it.

The images below are some in-process paintings, cut into strips and layered. The material used is alcohol ink – colored inks that blend, flow, and bleed into one another. Even with all my years in art school, these were new materials for me, and the experimenting gave me a chance to try new things.

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