Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Spirit of Wisdom

by Susan Weinberg

We are nearing the end of this year's lab and deliver our artwork for the exhibition in just two weeks. This is the period that best identifies our individual work styles. There are those who work best under pressure and are now contemplating what they will do in the next two weeks. Then there are those of us who fold under pressure so prepare well ahead. I am clearly in the latter camp with my painting complete.

Our session this evening began with a wisdom prayer from Isaiah 11:2Touch our lives with the spirit of wisdom and insight. Meryll then asked us several thought-provoking questions as we anticipate taking our artwork from the solitude of our studios to the very public gallery.

What kind of wisdom and insight would you like to imbue in others as they view your work?

The responses began to fly, some rather tongue in cheek.

Has she lost her mind?

I want them to feel struck by lightening!


Many of us have incorporated text and hope to entice the viewer into exploring it after absorbing the overall image.

We had a bit of a debate over accompanying wall text.  Some argue for responding just to the artwork and prefer not to know the artist's perspective.

Others of us consider the text as an integral piece of the work.

I prefer them to first understand my intent and then extrapolate to the meaning it may hold for them.   For my work the text and image are both important elements.

Some added that they wanted the viewer to travel the artist's path and then revisit it alone.

That question was then flipped around.

What kind of wisdom and insight do you need to view others' work?

We asked for receptivity to the ideas we addressed, patience and a willingness to take the time.  We noted that the opening usually doesn't offer the environment for that.  Many of us return to go through the show slowly in quiet.  We recommend that others do that as well.

We wanted questions rather than answers, work that provokes the viewer to contemplate.

I found myself thinking of my work that deals with the wisdom of the mothers, a take off on the text Pirkei Avot: The Ethics of the Fathers.  I would ask a viewer to consider what wisdom they received from their mother.

For the second part of our session we broke into groups of four and discussed our work. It is always fascinating to see the direction that others are going and the mediums they are exploring.  Our group was composed of mixed media, collage, poetry and ceramic, all in various stages of completion.  Some are quite brave, delving into unfamiliar mediums with great success. We especially appreciated Sharon Stillman's maiden voyage into ceramics with intriguing results.

This has been an especially interesting topic, a topic with considerable depth.  That depth provides much room for exploration and sometimes some uncertainty as to how to proceed.  It is that looming deadline that pushes us forward.

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