This is a guest post by Michelle Belto; the first in a seven week series. Each week one of the seven EncaustiCamp instructors will share their story, process and progress in our collaborative exhibit for EncaustiCamp 2015.
Michelle does a fantastic job of helping to introduce the overarching goal in this collaborative exhibit process~
Yes, you do. After several weeks of “seeding” my unconscious (meaning that I send out a giant HELP to the universe and then wait), I move this “project”—for want of a better word—to the forefront of my work list. Sometimes I wake up with an internal sense of readiness. Other times it is a looming deadline that moves me from inertia. For the Connection series, as I have begun to call this body of work, it was the opportunity of having to sit at the outpatient clinic for several hours while my husband had a minor medical procedure.
Starting with What I Want to Know…. We, artists, make art for many different reasons. Some of us make art to have a say about our world…to lend a voice in making change happen. Others want us to literally stop in our tracks and smell the flowers of beautifully painted canvases. Some artist explore concepts and ideas. Others explore materials and processes and in so doing make their own statement about life. I think I fall into this latter category. For me it is the thrill of exploring, pushing the materials, and discovery…and because I am fundamentally extroverted, I know what I need to say only after I have said it aloud in my work. So, I always start a new body of work on the heels of the previous one. In this instance it is another paragraph in my ongoing exploration of paper and wax.
In our show last October in Sydney, Australia, my portion of the gallery space was seven linear feet. Furthermore, the work—along with two sculptures and teaching materials for a week of teaching—(plus some underwear, of course) had to travel in ONE SUITCASE. I ended up working on paper in a way that allowed me to roll up the work and travel it in a yoga bag. I came back to the states excited to explore more deeply the contrast of waxed elements on pristine areas of handmade paper. I also wanted to continue my exploration with sculpture.
Going to images…I have always collected images from magazines, art announcement cards and any other images that somehow speak to me. I began by cataloging the images in files and then later moved to gluing them in large scrapbooks. A few years ago, I discovered Pinterest! What a revelation and support to my process! Millions of images from artists by artists, at my fingertips and neatly organized onto “boards” with a click of the mouse. Beginning this series, I began with my Pinterest boards that held my images of paper sculptures. I look at these as a researcher might…not as individual images but as a body of images. These are the artworks, color combinations, sculptures that catch my fancy or that intrigue me. What I noticed on this trip to Pinterest is that I had collected a lot of images where artists manipulated paper in multiples by folding, wrapping, layering, sewing… I also found myself intrigued by the cut paper images that allowed for peeking through to another surface.
I found myself excited (always a good indicator that I am moving in the right direction) about the possibility of working with paper in a new way and by making a lot of something. So now I have something about the “how” I will approach the work. Getting to what I want to say is often a lot harder for me. This time it came in a most surprising way. To see how, stay tuned!