By TRICIA GRAME, visual artist and faculty member in the Department of Writing, Consciousness, and Creative Inquiry
Our imaginations are so expansive and fertile. Art constantly embodies our endless wonder, concerns and thoughts. Creating art is not always a replica of life, but rather a tool for insight which seems to choose our imagining. Art is a metaphor! Most artists agree that interpreting and understanding their work is not meant to be a controlled or a fixed experience. One's art can be filled with storytelling and rich, provocative information, yet may offer no concrete vehicle for its interpretation. The audience must then seek its own explanation or simply absorbs its sublimity. Thus, an internal dialogue will begin without the spoken word, and thoughts become visible.
In the last few years, words have become more integral in my paintings. The elasticity of the painted text and my ability to immediately paint symbols and images began to pour out of me. My questions, thoughts and opinions were turned into art forms. I love the way the words grab you, force you to see them, scream at you, and demand that you read them. I love the materiality of paint, script, and texture and how they can act as uncanny records of time. My work feels both aged and immediate, with obvious or subtle hints of words and thoughts surfacing just beneath the layers of paint. Sometimes my words appear to be buried within or a second thought. I feel like I am recording my thoughts as I try to understand the fragility of my Being. There really is no boundary: it is the paint, the symbols, and the written word that communicate my message.
The artist is granting permission to the viewer to enter her imagination, her journey. It is a deeply personal and intimate place. Whether the written language appears to shout or whisper, it still embodies delicate, essential thoughts, coming from deep inside, entangled and inseparable from all else that reveals itself onto the canvas. A painted word, like a symbol, can add certain emotions or different layers of meaning. This may reflect what Carl Jung described as the concept of active imagination, a kind of meditation in which the emotions are expressed as images, or entities, or stories.
A successful work of art can consume you, encompass and at the same time jolt your senses, make you pause, stop breathing, capture your body and mind. Some people cannot let go, the art can possess and exhaust you. Others may attempt to inquisitively snoop into the private language of the artist with a strong desire to understand the artist’s vernacular language, the mystery. The painted word is evidence of thinking that tends to reach beyond the borders of the canvas and expands conventional language. No doubt, people will read it differently and attempt to decode it. The combination of symbols and words are a subversive way for the viewer to become engaged both visually and conceptually. The viewer then starts to free-associate or to analyze the handwriting. A dialogue between the unconscious and conscious will continue to supply the fuel for our creativity.
In 1940, George Orwell wrote "New Words," an essay about the stages of creativity, the roles of the left and right brain. Art, with or without recognizable images, can be read like a language that can also reveal what has been going on in the mind of the artist. Art can objectify thought, so that it can be seen.
There is a hidden language in one's unconscious that can be revealed and released through the mystery of art and the creative process. Thus, it is not simply a matter of making original works of art, it is the discovery of linking the past to the future in a continuing cycle of growing self-awareness. My work is an exploration, a search for language, in order to express the story, through the soul of my creativity. It is a visual and textual autobiography documenting the power of art as a transformative vehicle. The language of the unconscious is revealed and released through the creative process, becoming tangible in the work of art. Together, the painted text and symbols document my experience of the transformative cycle between art and life.