Sunday, April 29, 2012

Creative Dissonance

Some days ago I was trying to imagine how my work will look hanging at the Wayside Gallery in September and started to get a little bluesy thinking my work will appear too disparate in tone and voice and not cohesive. Until a few hours ago that belief was still rolling in the recesses of my mind.  I'm reading The Hearing Eye and an essay about the work of Norman Lewis shifted my perspective.
click on the book cover to go to Amazon...this is the Kindle edition
Lewis painted abstract expressionism but because he seemed to be exploring through re-contextualizing styles of artists who came before him, he couldn't be pigeon-holed as a solid abstract expressionist and thus critics wrote somewhat dismissive of his work in the mid-40's.  The authors, however, suggest that the critics may have been limited in understanding Lewis by trying to understand his work comparatively to his peers who became well known and the definitive artists for the style.  The authors submit that Lewis' work needs to be understood in reference to Jazz beyond just a subject matter and if the critics of the time could have had that understanding that Lewis would have rightfully held his own or exceeded art recognition.

What is submitted is an understanding of Jazz as confrontational, experimental and traditional nature of the music.  Confrontational, in that it challenges the audience beyond mere that it builds on traditional chords, but rearranges, add, subtracts, to create creative dissonance in sound and in performance.  Experimental and traditional in that one of the innovations was to take previous tunes and analyze the chords and layer them with new chords, rearrange the chords, take out chords, etc.

Hearing about dissonance described this way and applied to visual art just made me breath a lot deeper and placed what I have done in my own art in a perspective that is both comfortable and challenging at the same time...comfortable in that it describes the way I work and challenging because there is always that push to stretch traditional quilt methods/tools into new forms of expression/use.  I've already acknowledge the discovery that I tend to work circular in building a series...from one piece to another are different series until I come back around.
pieces started 18 months ago or longer and came out of 8 months of storage, excited me all over again...I was like "I DO like my work!"
This particular chapter has been so right on for me in multiple I could not just hum right along as if I was only being informed on a cerebral level...I was again, recently reminded, to take it to the spirit to really know whats up ;).  And that's whats up! (a phrase that references my oldest son).


  1. We are always out worst critics! In a way that is what is the driving force behind creative genius---at least in my view.

    1. I certainly lean toward what you're saying...being our own worst critic may be just a part of the process of is a part of the "flow" of things with the challenge of not getting stuck in any one phase.

  2. I applaud you for even trying in the area of the art world. I just make whatever I want whenever I want and always trying new things. There is not a competitive bone in my body, and this is why I applaud your for stepping out and at least trying to identify your self and your style. I think this is wonderful, but I'm too lazy to venture in your footsteps. Here's my best wishes for your endeavors. Just do what feels right to you and put it out there.

    1. It does come down to doing what feels right for me first and then it comes down to what feels right for me to put out there for others to see...for me there are multiple layers to creating. And thank you for the words of encouragement :)