Transitions can take a toll on creativity and process. I've moved many times in the past several years, most recently in the summer of 2014 when my wife Alicia accepted a visiting professorship at Colorado Mesa University. We're halfway through the year and I find myself unsatisfied with my artistic output. It hasn’t been as “daily” as I’d like. This past week was the first time I could point to a truly original thought.
This summer, Alicia and I will have the opportunity to install a large scale work in Loveland, CO. We're also considering a move back to the area, which would represent a new commitment to a single place and maybe allow for a period of uninterrupted thought and production.
It comes as no surprise then that we are using a quote by Chinese geographer Yi-Fu-Twan as a theme for the installation: “Americans have a sense of space rather than a sense of place.” In his book, Space and Place, The Perspective of Experience, he describes contrasting attitudes of Americans and Chinese towards home. Americans look to and value the future, “out there,” while Chinese value the stability of a limited place.
We find ourselves living in the tension between these two realms: we don’t want to lose the hope that space symbolizes, but long for the rootedness of place.
I often write about slowing down, taking time to search for details, allowing oneself to be present so that things not immediately recognized can reveal themselves. One of the large struggles I currently face is living in a fairly homogenized suburban environment. The houses are nearly undistinguishable from each other. The neighborhood is bland and seemingly devoid of people. Fortunately, there is the ability to escape quickly to some beautiful natural surrounding areas, but it requires a bike or car ride.
If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that a daily creative rhythm is essential to my own well being and the sanity of my immediate family. Regular observation and exploration, even on a small scale, keeps ideas from atrophying. And so I’m going to start using my immediate surroundings as inspiration for a series of small drawings. Like the title of this blog suggests, it will be a good exercise in discipline, to find diverse patterns that are hidden in the “sameness.” Stay tuned.