I make Anti-War Art. I am passionate about this pursuit.
Believe it or not, I’ve had a delightful past three weeks, starting two days after surgery to have my hip replaced. Sound strange? Perhaps. But I’ve had all this time to myself at the hospital, at the rehabilitation center, and now at home with all kinds of precautions keeping me from doing “housey” and other things which normally seem to take up so much time. And I can’t drive for another couple weeks.
So, I am voraciously reading many of those WAR books that have been waiting and making extensive notes about ideas I want to consider. I am doing research online and making sketches and trying new techniques and processes for my next ANTI-WAR ART pieces which sit in-waiting. It’s wonderful. It’s luxurious. I have nothing to do but focus on my art and the visits from my physical therapist.
In developing my ANTI-WAR WORK, I use processes and materials designed to generate discomfort, sadness, disgust, and shock on the part of the viewer. I intentionally use discordant colors. I use beautiful colors to create an awkward juxtaposition with a deadly weapon or other horrific war image.
Let me talk about my process for making a recently completed piece called Letters Home to Mom . I started by talking to some veterans at a local meeting of Iraq Veterans Against the War. A few meetings later, I had an opportunity to ask them what kinds of things they wrote home to their mothers about when they were away at war. I used many of these thoughts along with several ideas garnered from the many war books I read and began composing more than 25 of these ideas into letters.
Next, I began thinking about what other imagery I might want in this piece. And I remembered one soldier telling me how much his mother liked to knit. I then imaged the many ways mothers spend their time while their children are fighting at war. And the vision of mothers sitting in a circle knitting items of clothing for their soldier children came to view. This led to my beginning to knit more than 40 white patches using different types of yarn and different stitches. And this led to my needlefelting these patches together into a “beautiful” crazy quilt in the form of an AK47 gun embellished with lavendar shiny yarn. To complete my imagery, I developed some other AK47 guns using black dyed organza.
So I then had about 25 letters painted with white paint on dyed pastel organza pieces, a large knitted AK47 gun and some other black organza AK47 guns. What to use for a background? At that point, I quite accidentally spilled some india ink on white fabric. My daughter thought it looked like splotches of blood. My grandson thought it looked like shrapnel falling from an exploded IED. And it reminded me of one of my grandmother’s dresses (the grandmother who knitted a lot.) That was it. I developed a large 50” x 74” piece of white fabric by painting india ink splotches on it. And finished the piece.
Which brings me back to Creative Process. How does it happen? On the one hand, it feels easy when you are in the flow. On the other hand, it can feel really tough and challenging and hard to keep pressing on. Or it might feel as if I just learn enough new techniques and theory, it will just happen. But in the end, for me, it requires digging down deep into the painful part of a lifetime of experience and developed awareness. It’s complicated.
What is your creative process?