|12th century Venetian mosaic|
As this was the first time in several months that we regrouped we did a bit of an update on what has occupied our energies. Ask artists what has occupied their energies and you get an unusual range of activities.
-An expansion to a new space and the utilization of Dragon, a voice activating transcription program. The use of technology allows for a different approach to writing, more of a thinking aloud which can later be structured as needed.
-Attendance at a Dream Tending workshop offered by Dr. Steven Aizenstadt with the objective of bringing dream images to life through art.
-A move and downsizing prompted thoughts of our tendency to want to hold onto things and the need to let go of photographs and other ephemeral. A rather heated discussion ensued on the value of holding on to such material. As a family historian I must state my bias for preserving history.
In support of this perspective one member spoke of her mother's loss of memory and how meaningful it had been for her to read her father's letters to her mother. Another member offered a creative way to dispose of such belongings. She parceled out her father's photos to people who were represented in them, many now in their 90s who were delighted to recapture these pieces of their past. A lovely way to honor the memory of her father.
Meryll Page joined us for the later part of our discussion and reported that she is working on getting her book Jewish Luck published in Israel and is preparing a second book, Taste of Torah, based on a year's worth of columns linking food to the weekly torah portion.
This is not a static group!
Meryll began our discussion on Creative Destruction by asking if we ever destroy our work when we are stuck. This is a topic I know well and had to offer the solution I pursue which is to take white or gold paint, often mixed with medium, and provide a light coating over the painting. Often an entirely new painting develops. It has the added benefit of making the imagery much more mysterious, forcing me away from my more realistic bent.
The solution depends in part on the medium. Those who work with paper often cut or tear it and use it for later collages. Those who work digitally save the digital image and rework it into something new.
Other approaches that have been proposed by various artists included determining what would ruin the painting and doing it or finding the place you love the most and getting rid of it. I'm not sure I have the stomach for either.
It was noted that the approach of taking what you can and moving on resonated with the history of the Jews who were frequently moving on with short notice. After all, that's how we got matzoh.
Meryll shifted us to this week's Parsha Genesis 6:9-11:32, the story of Noah and the flood. I was struck by the imagery within the story, the rainbow as a covenant, the raven and the dove sent to find land. Meryll asked about the parallels to chapter one in Genesis. Genesis starts with God's breath hovering over the water prior to his creation of the world. It is the blank canvas on which creation takes place. In the latter story we go back to a blank canvas, but only after water becomes a destructive force. The focus of water ranges from creative to destructive. There is a delicate balance, even within our bodies which are largely composed of water.
Creative destruction of worlds or canvases, sometimes we must destroy to create anew, freeing ourselves to see with fresh eyes. Better canvases than worlds!