The six month long season of running around, marathon driving sessions, moving tons of supplies, equipment and artwork, and to-the-minute scheduling is pretty much finished for the rest of the year. I need to do my deferred taxes this week, have the Rockford show in November that I’ll be hauling and installing myself, and two more in December; but the work was done and delivered for one of those back in July, and the other will just require packing and shipping. I have a few other brief obligations here and there, and also (hooray!) my Ragdale month.
I’ve worked hard and now I reap my reward: Unscheduled Time. There is nothing so essential to my process as that. Many years ago, when I was a painter, I would work freelance jobs obsessively until I had enough money to buy myself six weeks of Unscheduled Time; and later, when I began to discover residencies, that is how I approached the time they afforded me. Then, from summer 2007 on, I had specific projects that needed to be worked on, and even though there was some discovery and side experimentation, all my residencies took on a scheduled approach.
My artwork comes about in a wide variety of ways; each work is different in terms of its conceptualization. One piece might start with a fully-realized conviction, another might begin with a resonant phrase. Others I have literally seen, whole, and then had to learn both how to make them and to discover what they meant to me. Those are only a few examples. But at all times, no matter how busy I am with teaching, traveling, housework, research, writing, doing taxes or anything else, there is a perpetual, constant flow of images inside my strange head, flashes and fragments of things that might be made, and of connections between ideas. During Unscheduled Time, one or more of them pushes to the forefront, begins appearing more and more frequently, literally demanding to be made. I trust this process implicitly (as well as the haptic aspects that come with the physical process of making).
Large portions of my installation for House, Dreaming (a few details in the images above) worked that way. I went in knowing the atmosphere I wanted to impart, and why I wanted to focus on it; and I brought pieces I had made there that I knew must become a part of the whole. But I wasn’t sure how I would do it; that is, I didn’t have floor plans. While I reflected on all the times I’ve worked at Ragdale, I let the space speak to me, tell me what it needed. As always, I got more than I bargained for: I remembered how truly important this way of working is for me, and realized how very long it’s been since I’ve been free to fully embrace the simultaneous not-knowing and full faith of Unscheduled Time. Definitely, aside from one piece I need to finish in a large space, my Ragdale residency is going to be dedicated to that marvelous process. I’m excited.
My first bit of Unscheduled Time yesterday was spent cutting, steaming, stripping and cleaning a smallish batch of milkweed; it’s cooking out back now, then will be used in a couple of experiments. If they go well, more harvesting and processing will happen. I’ve had milkweed fiber dancing about in my brain for a few weeks now, hoping it will be able to be used in the odd manner I’ve been visualizing. Even if it can’t, I know for certain that I will at least end up with sheets of paper I like: win-win, like most aspects of having unscheduled time.