October 13th

My thoughts are scattered today. This is the first time since IP started that I really feel like I'm struggling; which is probably a good thing. If everything we did was easy, what would be the value in completing the tasks?

Last week, we watched The Five Obstructions and were then assigned to create an element of our project with an obstruction we created for ourselves. I initially understood the concept of obstructions; it's a way to unlock potential creativity and new avenues that an artist would not recognize without impeding normal behaviors. At the same time, I don't entirely feel the filmmaker's so-called "evasion" of the obstructions was a failure. Despite being given seemingly very difficult impediments, he stayed true to who he was and his own style as an artist and creator. Is that failure?

My Obstructions:
- Illustrate a personal memory. (Since my project is about other people's memories and truth be told, I don't really like creating work that is very personal.)

- Be messier and less in control. Accept wrinkles and tears in the paper. Don't draft every detail out beforehand. (I am not necessarily a perfectionist, but I like order and precision and clean lines.)

I had a really hard time coming up with a personal memory, which was obviously to be expected. While I was brainstorming, I starting thinking about my grandparents. My maternal grandmother died when I was 4 and my maternal grandfather died when I was in middle school. My father's parents died when I was a junior in high school. Due to varying circumstances I was never really close to any of them and while I sat there thinking, I realized I didn't really have a huge number of memories about them. Those I did have were at times fragmented and simple; going to the Shriner Circus, feeding ducks at the nearby pond, a plastic canvas mailbox ornament, visiting fields that once held the best tasting sweet corn in the world (or so I'm told). It was both strange and interesting to confront this lack of memory and my emotions towards it.

I tried to create a "messier" layered papercut about these thoughts, however I see now that my wrinkles and tears were created just for the sake of wrinkles and tears; they were not aligned with the content and concept of the piece. Additionally, I was still very neat and separate with my layers. So I, like the filmmaker in the movie, avoided my own obstructions. Although I think there are different ranges of messy and while I wasn't at the end of the spectrum, I was outside of my normal comfort zone.

I think that I got a lot out of thinking about the way my own memories work when there are large holes and gaps in the stories and how I feel about that. I also realized in my failure with using the layers the way they can be used; I haven't really been doing papercuts in the way they appear in my head. At this point I can't explain why I haven't executed what I really want to, but I can commit to doing it in my next piece. I'm going to re-attempt doing a personal memory and actually focus on a singular, particular moment.

One of the reasons I struggle with personal pieces is because so often it is the dark and difficult moments that artists use in their work. Obviously, I do have bad memories, struggles, and fears, just like everyone else. But I have been incredibly blessed throughout my life in never facing what I would consider true adversity; my parents are still married, I have good relationships with everyone in my life, no one close to me has ever died, I've never had any heath issues, all my physical needs have been met and then some, I've had great opportunities and education .. the list goes on. I'm not an overly optimistic person who has blocked out and negated memories of difficult times; I just don't have anything that I feel is valid - that isn't trite. I hate to come across as whining about my banal problems when other people have truly faced suffering and hardships. It took me an hour to come up with a list of 5 specific memories that I would consider being difficult and complicated enough for layers and I still am unsure if any of them can be translated to an interesting papercut.

It is true that "darker" memories, mysteries, and secrets all tie in very well with the medium of layered and cut paper; but I am also questioning how this fits in with the heart of my project, which is as follows:

I want to use my own art to help and inspire, both the volunteers and viewers, to preserve and communicate these important pieces of their lives with those around them.

Part of my end product is sets of prints to give back to the "memory-givers" to keep and share with their families. While it is equally important to foster sharing more difficult things with those around you, who wants a fine art keepsake of their darkest hours? I'm trying to get people to share their stories in general - whether it's the most significant thing that happened to them or a recollection of a run-of-the-mill moment that for some reason is worth preserving.

This was long. I'm not sure if I resolved anything by writing this, but at least the scattered pieces of my mind are a little more in order.

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