I came across a great quote by Henry Miller that alludes to uncertainty, though Miller uses different terms. I knew I had to share it here. The life preserver analogy is especially powerful to me; again, no risk, no art.
“I had to learn to think, feel, and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world. I had to throw myself into the current, knowing that I would probably sink. The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them. Nobody can drown in the ocean of reality who voluntarily gives himself up to the experience. Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring, through obeying the blind urge.”
*Quote via Brain Pickings.
Specifically, embracing uncertainty. Something I’m working on, because I’m generally not a big fan of uncertainty. Uncertainty is… uncomfortable.
I do believe, however, that uncertainty is a vital part of making art. Starting something new, how are we to know what will come of it? “Is it going to work? Where will it lead? Will it be total shit? Why am I even doing this?…” That is the sort of thinking that tends to take over when I start new things. It’s a vulnerable feeling. But here’s the thing: without risk and exploration, things dry up. Art requires movement. It requires progression. It requires risk. It requires action.
Most of the time, the experiments don’t work out. Every now and then, they do. Sometimes, they trigger a cascade of work that can last years. But it all starts with willingness to embrace uncertainty. So, that’s something I’m working on right now: setting some time aside to just play with different materials, play with different ways of thinking, play with failure, even. Cultivating uncertainty.
Above: Some of my current experiments (playing) on mylar.
I was going to share pictures from the opening last night in Walnut Creek, but that will have to wait. (Just till tomorrow, I promise- so, so much fantastic work!) First, I have to share this video, from TED, of writer Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) talking about creativity, and the possibility of re-inventing our perception of it. It’s funny, and bone-true, just like her book. And it’s worth watching if only for the description of the poem and the poet… you’ll see. It took my breath away. *Thanks to Beth for sending me this!!