By MAIA SCOTT
This post was written as an assignment for Professor Cindy Shearer’s CIA 7091: MFA Interdisciplinary Arts Workshop. As part of a community of artists working across art perspectives, students in this course get the chance to present their work and teach each other about their art form(s), practice, lineage and influences, and are challenged to inquire into the interdisciplinary arts as well as forms new to them.
Remember sprawling in the fragrant summer grass looking up and identifying pictures in the clouds? Or, how about gazing at a cracked wall long enough that it reveals hidden images? And then there are such magical places as the North Bay’s Mount Tamalpias that turns out to be a sleeping princess when you stop to admire her quiet presence.
When I go hiking, I am rewarded with scene-scapes that are reminiscent of Monet’s impressions of his surroundings. And an evening at the ballet offers up a living Degas painting, complete with soft edges and supposed depth of space. Riding the underground during commute time feels like a Salvador Dali painting choreographed for the Rockettes.
As a partially sighted visual artist and performer life is rarely mundane. Color and motion conspire to provide me with randomly helpful cues to my surroundings, while simultaneously stirring up bits of fantasy to tempt my every creative whim. The beauty of my limited sight is just that. Do I feel like playing with shadow or light today? I’m going to notice everything that goes up… or sparkles… or swirls like a dervish of crunchy leaves.
Life, art, and seeing hold similar properties; For certain, they are all open to interpretation. As one who could easily talk to a mailbox, recycle the rent check, and proudly slam-dunk an empty bottle into an old lady’s lap while waiting for the bus to take me to work, I am well aware of how much I rely upon the art of interpretation and filling in the blanks on the fly. Seeing with my other senses, including intuition, along with canine (guide dog) sensibility provide me with a greater part of that which informs my art processes – and just what I need for a graceful exit stage left should the above scenario occur.
Picasso claimed it took him twenty-five years to relearn how to paint like a child again. Surprisingly, I found the most useful wisdom about seeing in art class. For instance, I learned what it is to see in three dimensions as my sighted, fellow students learned how to interpret their vision into two dimensions. It has been a life-long challenge to muster the courage to create like a partially sighted person. Slowly, I see with greater and greater clarity there is more to seeing than meets the eye.
THE ART OF SEEING DIFFERENTLY
Experiment look through an assortment of items such as the following:
- Poke a pin hole into a piece of cardboard.
- Smear Vaseline or lip balm onto a clear container lid.
- Find a piece of clothing through which you can see light.
Choose something you enjoy viewing and spend some time seeing it over and over again for the first time...
After seeing your world differently, ask yourself;
- Did I focus on new or different aspects of things?
- Did I move differently?
- Did I automatically fill in the missing pieces or did I take things literally?
- Does any of this parallel the way I interpret other perceptions of life as I “See” it?