Sunday, May 18, 2008

Of heart and mind

Ingredients for discovery: soft architecture and toasted whole grain oats.

I remember building forts, when I was young, in the kitchen or living room with random furniture joined with ligatures of blankets. Having that veiled sense of comfort. The world softened, filtered to meet my eye. I can’t remember now when I learned about it, and I don’t want to project preference onto memory, but at some point, some teacher of mine spoke to us about the notion of “querencia,” basically a Spanish term that refers to one’s comfort zone; a place from which one draws strenght. Those structures of fabric and re purposed dining furniture represented the tangible form of my Querencia. Come to think of it, the evocation of a place of comfort comes originates,for me, in same conditions lo these 30 years later.
I’m on a bent to relate the sense I have when entering my “hab” at night, but it's not easy to convey. The corrugated transparent ceiling panels let in a bounty of wonderful light. That ceiling is responsible for transmitting a good deal of heat and stuffiness, so yesterday I installed a baffle. A white sheet attached to lengths of wood on two sides to swag across the ceiling overhead, softening the light and buffering the heat. The effect of soft architecture and muted luminance even more strongly evokes that feel of the child’s fort. Not until I used the word “structure “ In the previous post did I realize that this temporary workspace and sculpture is not just like building a fort as a youngster. it is a fort. Built for my own pleasure, largely improvised by what I can easily scab together, its intimate and all together my own contemporary incarnation of a querencia; one in which to move freely and confidently in thought and courageously in action.
Speaking briefly tonight with Alexis Elton, who is back in Beacon for a short break from her current stint in NM, about the relevance of we artists partaking in this project making space for to make our little objects, when, in Cerrillos, south of Santa Fe, she’s spent time with a program which works with individuals to construct similar structures to simply meet their basic needs. I agree that there is something potentially, inevitably frivolous, about a group of artists “roughing it” in a parking lot, making artwork out of doors, devoid of electric light and convenient potty. What is this artist's process of leaving a trail of objects but frivolity and diversion, particularly when
war and suffering exist? At it’s best, though, this tinkering and crafting we do is a vehicle to engage with the materials of this life to put forth an effort in demonstrating an appreciation, if not a comprehension of all there is in this life. I appreciate her take, and in a broader sense of mayking, I myself have struggled with it in that past and continue to do so. This hermit's pursuit tracked through the production of objects and actions is as often philosophical as it is random and silly. It's a pursuit that allows me to touch realms of meaning that enhances my experience of life. It's the sharing of the fruits of these labors that, if needed, lends relevance. Whenever you capsulize an experience or even a philosophy and put it on show, there's something of the prurient and voyeuristic that seeps in, but that's a side effect of communication. There is a bit of the ridiculous in the row of mini buildings that have sprouted at the south end of Spire’s parking lot. But that ridiculousness that is part and parcel of that artist’s experience. (insert here, some Shakespearen quote regarding the clown's profundity)
It's ridiculous to fixate and contemplate a bulk box of Cheerios. But as the experience of so many in our culture, myself included, is not directly shaped by the tides of war and capricious Mother Nature, a significance relevant to broader questions may come from that contemplation. Being able to carve out a moment of Querencia in which to pondering the depth of such frivolity provides the gumption to draw audacious connections to areas of true significance that can lead to deeper understanding - connections which otherwise would not be entertained for lack of confidence or fear of embarrassment.

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