Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Question: (these are from Tara in comments a while ago)
Is mentally allowing and accepting the multitude of true and real challenges of this art, stained glass, a more or less learned discovery? (Dewey was the master of changing the teaching world into allowing learned discovery to operate in the students' favor in public education.)

Hmmmm...I have only done things MY WAY (cue Frank) so I can’t make any comparative claims...

read more.

I think My Way was informed by what more ignorant types refer to as “learning disabilities” but what are IN REALITY a cluster of major advantages for a visual artist and object maker.... Attention Deficit Disorder, mild Dyslexia, a minor auditory processing issue, perhaps a tendency towards obsession, and a major wiring problem when it comes to lateralization have all made it clear that I test poorly (very, very poorly!) but make some decent art things. I guess with these gifts one is able to make some unexpected connections, creatively speaking!

I can learn only via demos...not written instructions and most CERTAINLY NEVER, ever, ever spoken instructions...forget it.......and even in live demos, I can barely bring myself to pay attention as I drift off to some happy place full of gumdrop trees and fluffy bunnies!
So I’ve been adapting in one way or another since forever.

But what Tara is saying, I think, is about mastering a medium: “is flexibility preferable to control?” or maybe “Is adaptability a better strategy than following a set procedure?” Tara, correct me if I am totally losing it here! I think if your goal is to make art the answer is emphatically yes to both. But if you just wanna be a cog in a factory, then by all means, learn according to a rigid protocol! My ADD demands I be delighted and surprised at every turn or I trash it. This is de facto predicated on going somewhere previously unknown, with materials, process and concepts (laugh if you will...I know my work all looks like a coherent set). The unknown is, of course, where creativity is. Repeating what you know, no matter how much of a fantastic virtuoso is re-creating...or recreating....recreation is what we refer to as light amusement, and I may be funny but I am dead serious about being a decent artist! I’m no amateur.

Being open to the possibilities of the medium and process is akin to listening. You can “have an idea” and you can then “make it” but so much is going to be lost in the translation, even more so if one is forcing physical matter, glass, to conform to what is basically smoke and mirrors. “Having and idea and then making it” strikes me as a bottom-down fait accompli, where the resultant object is only an illustration of the inspiration not an embodiment. ‘Tis a far, far better thing to have an idea when the piece is finished! At the opening!!! Ten years later! Just not before one makes it. Personally, I start with a sketch and allow EVERYTHING to change as I go...I am constantly starting over again because my results are often disappointingly predictable—but I have come to terms with that, not as a waste of time and money but a launch platform. The next step is total surrender to not having a clue. This is good. Then a process can begin where one is open enough to allow for the magic to happen.
Basically, if it comes out how I imagined, then I trash it and start over. I want better than that. Plus Ultra!! (Latin for “Further Beyond” or perhaps, a condom brand?)
My experience tells me that the second I try to MANIFEST something, the glass cuts me off and starts in on its incessant blabby input and if I don’t listen with a hugely open heart its going to be tough luck for me. So its a collaboration of sorts and I don’t mean that in some kind of occult way.

Mentally speaking what is still so difficult today after years of studio experience and how do you learn to see and anticipate invisible pot holes?

My neural pathways seem set in concrete!!! The more ground I’ve covered the less I can innovate....I think I am at a stage where refining is more interesting than discovery...this is something you gotta earn, IMHO....besides that...I find it very difficult to do the Plus Ultra thing...since its entirely unknown, none of my experience, knowledge, or assumptions about glass, art, or even my fine self will get me there...its pure faith! One must set aside EVERYTHING and reinvent the wheel every time but you must also somehow forget that you invented the wheel yesterday....its cwazee!
It occurs to me that art is the polar opposite of empirical thinking. If its tests true: then it must be rejected!

Please ask questions if you want—I love talking about this type of stuff...


Anonymous said...

Hi, Judith! Victor from Portland here. This post prompted a lot of thoughts and notions about not just the creative process, but about how I approach work in general.

I'm a generalist by nature. I rely on many different skills and perspectives when I approach creating and working, from a broad, whole view to specific detailed focus, back and forth, sometimes in rapid, wild succession, sometimes very deliberately and slowly. Perspective is a big deal to me. This process lets me work around obstacles and allows solutions to present themselves, with the end result usually being something cooler than what I thought I wanted when I started.

I can be a very rational, technically-oriented geek, at yet at other times, a deliberately unfocused free thinker in search of nuance, the untrodden path, a peek behind the curtain of perception. I can't always know when the switch will come, but I try to stay open to it and ready to move. True control for me is all about being able to use the best of both approaches at will, which is easier said than done, to be sure. The problem is, this process can be very hard for others to read and react to.

As a result, my instinctive reaction has evolved to where I recoil when someone else approaches my work, whether it is creative or rote and mundane. Hard and repeated experience going back to early youth tells me that others will invariably interfere... they're going to mess with me, distract me, introduce doubt and judgment, try to stuff things into a box against my will or even try to shut me down and stop me in my tracks because of their own narrow-mindedness or fear.

The hell of it is, I want very much to be cordial and social, to have the depth that other people's thoughts add to my own. I really don't want to be isolated. But finding people who I can trust to not bugger up my process has proven difficult if not impossible most of the time. So, in order to get anything done, I find myself going into isolation and working in solitude, which I suspect has cost me both socially and politically.

Does any of the above resonate with you? If so, how have you been able to sort it out?

Apologies if this sounds a bit on the dour or overly earnest side... things ain't really all that bad, but at the same time, these thoughts have been on my mind a lot of late.

In closing, I love talking about this stuff, too... please keep it coming!



Pretty Lady said...

Hi Judith! I just discovered your blog through, and am entranced. Thank you for supplying such a detailed breakdown of your working process! It's a real inspiration.

Judith Schaechter said...

Pretty Lady!
I know you from comments on Edward Winckelman's blog! Thank you so much for reading!!!

And Victor--
Yowza! Can I respond to you in a singular post on the subject of emotional protection and sustainable social interaction for artists?
Love, Judith