February 5, 2011
The word texture has come up a lot lately. During the afterschool art class youth have been working with plaster. While learning how plaster works in sculpting the body, youth have created hands, elbows, chins, wrists, forearms, and fingers. Using plaster-impregnated cloth (you know the stuff of old fashion plaster casts) each artist has the opportunity to have their work come out anywhere from smooth to rough. The question is what inner thought, feeling, emotion are they trying to express and how does that feel in the texture of plaster?
Color has been right behind texture. Using primary colors and mixing the colors themselves to pull out (to find!) the color that expresses the inner self has been a journey for all—sometimes the colors come easy, sometimes they come with much frustration! Colors call the artist to wonder what feeling or emotion might look like.
Last week’s reflection ended with the developing art piece of a young woman. The concept was hers alone. Forming her hands in the shape of a heart, she had someone else do the plastering. There is risk and trust in allowing another to enter your space and create. Even talking another artist through how you want plaster laid and smoothed, the experience remains one where the one whose hands are being plastered does not have full control of the work—this type of work is about people in process.
After the work hardened, she reworked the piece. While the piece always has a bit of another artist within it, the reworking—smoothing, overlaying, shaping—brings out more of self. She gave the piece a more rough than smooth look, allowing texture to describe body and heart. With fabric edges showing, she gives us a work that speaks to the life of the observer. The hands are familiar, the heart is known but not literally seen, and together they hand us the knowledge that life is present, but seldom lived without some rough edges.
The artist chose the color that in the developing language of most all cultures is the last given a word. The blue of sky and water ties the hands to world and life beyond the boundaries of a small rural community. The color helps observers move out beyond themselves and imagine the interlacing of hearts beyond their own. The light blue markings give the hands individuality, so even in the midst of community ones inner wellbeing is valuable.
© David B. Bell 2011