Kirsten Lee is a multi-disciplinary artist living in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. This is her second installment in a 4-part series as Artist Strong’s Artist in Residence. You can enjoy more of her art over on instagram @kleewv. Visit her website to explore artworks and ongoing projects at www.kirstenlee.me.
“Venturing out of your comfort zone may feel dangerous, yet do it anyways, because our ability to grow is directly proportional to our ability to entertain the uncomfortable.” ― Twyla Tharp
I popped in headphones and clicked on “The Creative Habit” to ease an afternoon of running errands. Are you an audiobook addict as well?
As many times as I’ve heard these lines, today they really resonated.
There’s a lot of Uncomfortable in the air these days. From the global to the national on down to the personal, Uncomfortable seems to be the status quo. But of course, right now we are talking about Uncomfortable in the artistic.
I’m incredibly fortunate to be a part of a weekly artist gathering. A joyful, talented group of artfolk who gather each week to create, chat and drink too much coffee. How could that possibly be Uncomfortable?
…Through a pile-up of uncapitalized, unitalicized, uncomfortables….
It’s uncomfortable because it’s HARD to show up. The doors open all too early and it’s about a half hour away. Before that, all the farm work need to be done, any emergencies extinguished, and breakfast bolted down. Hopefully the car was packed the night before, with a clear plan–and the supplies to pull it off.
Which brings us to… it’s uncomfortable because I need to plan creativity, which sounds-and feels-like an oxymoron. I need to pack and transport what I need to bring my plan-and any unexpected vision- to life. Tolkien sketched the breadth of Middle Earth with a ballpoint and whatever paper was to hand. Still, I feel as though I have this sacred slice of time carved out for arting, so I should have the materials at hand to see the visions through.
This also underscores I need to pack that vision and that plan, which means I need to have one to begin with. I’ve been focusing on admin and curriculum development and nutz-n-boltz illustration. Making a quick shift to creative freedom and back is a muscle I’m working on strengthening. (Hint-it doesn’t come effortlessly!)
And even visioning is uncomfortable. This group is full of MFAs and PHDs and professional studio artists. This horsegirl with a science BS can feel a walloping imposter syndrome.
The keyword here is “feel.” The “feeling” is on me. And it’s up to me to walk through it, however uncomfortable.
I’ve been mulling Twylas’s words for hours now, and been typing at the keyboard for a bit. And just now, it flashed “ENTERTAIN.”
“Entertain the uncomfortable,” Twyla urges.
YeeeeHaaaawwwww! In horsey parlance, this post just shied, wheeled and bolted!
All the way into next week!
Shhhhhh… a settling hand on a surging shoulder, a gentle reminder to refocus on today…. (But remember, come next week, you were here the moment the eureka struck!)
Today, we’re still talking about Uncomfortable. What is more uncomfortable than not knowing where you’re going, but yet still moving forward? Last week we chatted about “inductive arting,”my clumsy name for pursuing “what-if’s” and where they lead.
Today I brought an abundance of hopeful expectancy and experimental supplies to our weekly meetup. My “vision”sprawled across several tables!
For what seems forever, I’ve been back-and-forthing about gelli printmaking with one of founding members, but due to health and circumstance, today was the first time we were together with our supplies. And so we played…
And so I stumbled into a next step with my ice photo series. Inductive arting. One step at a time, with little sense of the final product.
(See that empty coffee cup on the table? You KNOW that wasn’t the first! Type in the comments how many you think I drank that day!)
Every month, 1-3 artists show up in our Artist Strong community to share their artistic process, journey, explorations with us over the course of a month.
The goal is to normalize the MANY, VARIED experiences of being an artist.
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Good morning, Kirsten!
Loved what you had to say about imposter syndrome…and coffee! Right now, I don’t have an art group to work with regularly, but I have a fiber artist friend who lives nearby. We get together occasionally just to play with whatever materials we’re using at the time. No judgement, no stress, just play!
I’ve never heard of ice photos, although I have done ice painting in the winter…brrrr!
The work you’re doing with it looks intriguing, and much warmer!
Thanks Charmaine! The ice photos are landscapes around my farm shot through slabs ice I break off of the horses water troughs in winter. Brrrr indeed! I’ve thought about just freezing slabs in the freezer, but I love the idea of collaborating with nature. Your time with your fiber artist friend sounds wonderful. Have you collaborated on any projects together?
Cathy and I have not collaborated on a piece of finished work, although we have taken classes together locally. A number of years ago, she taught summer workshops for art teachers, so I have taken art quilting and fabric dyeing classes with her as the instructor. Your question may have sparked an idea for a collaboration though! She sometimes does paper versions of her fiber work and I sometimes make cyanotypes on fabric. Could be a merger in the future, so thank you for the inspiration!