Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King Day

SoulCollage card for MLK: I am one
who embodies social justice, who knows
that all people are valuable.

Several years ago, long before I discovered Zentangle, I started doing SoulCollage®, a process that involves making small collages on 5" x 8" cards representing different parts of the psyche. Each card fits into one of four suits -- Committee, Community, Companion, or Council. Little by little, a deck forms that is very much like a personal Tarot deck, an oracle made of the stuff of your own experience and imagination. I made this card years ago as one of my community cards. Members of one's community can be dead or alive, famous or not, even real or not, for that matter -- I could imagine a cartoon character or Gromit as belonging to someone's community. 

I wanted to include MLK because of the central role his example and assassination played in my childhood and adolescence.  He was killed two days after my 13th birthday, and though I was neither raised in a family of social activists nor belonged to any formal movement on my own, the gravity of this loss touched me deeply. It touched everyone deeply. His death restimulated the national grief over John Kennedy's assassination less than five years before, and foreshadowed Bobby Kennedy's murder which would happen just two months later. 

The girl in orange dances in the rain for the pure joy of it. I did this once with my uncle on a rainy summer day on Long Island when I was about 8 or 9 years old. In that memory, I am a carefree and spontaneous soul who doesn't mind getting wet, who embraces what is without hesitation. The boy on the right asks What now? Martin looks ahead. He envisions the best, and shows others how to embrace the real steps necessary to bring it about. As in a dream, all three are me. 

I drew this card last night to experiment with one small idea I found for handling design in a tile. Flux moves along a curved line from left to right. I saw this done on a tile and wanted to copy it just for practice. It's a small thing, this idea of making a pattern on a string border -- the idea that a border itself can be decorated. I filled in the Cubine part next because I wanted something bold in the tile. After those two choices, the rest of the patterns rose to the occasion without a lot of coaxing or reflection, except for the randon 'Nzepple in the upper left. I puzzled over that small, unfilled area for a while wondering what to do with it. I tried a little color with the Quandary and Tipple, and it looks okay, I guess, but I would have preferred black and white everywhere. 

But here's the thing about the color: it was great fun to execute. As David Bayles and Ted Orland observe in Art and Fear, "[I]f artmaking did not tell you (the maker) so enornously much about yourself, then making art that matters to you would be impossible. To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished artwork. To you, and you alone, what matters is the process: the experience of shaping that artwork" (5). When I look at the color and shake my head, I assume the perspective of viewers who had nothing to do with creating this tile. From that perspective, I would make a different choice. When I look at the color and smile, I recall the small joy it was to fill in a white area with glitter color! It's great fun to shift my point of view this way, between what I imagine viewers may experience and what I experienced when I made the tile.