Monday, February 8, 2010

Insight out

I created this collage as a way of using a non-linear, non-logical process to examine an issue bothering me. It was in this week’s chapter of “Walking in This World” the sequel book to ”The Artist’s Way.” It reminded me of the Soul Reflections process, but with the addition of a subject, held lightly while I searched for images and arranged them. Here is my question, and my jotted thoughts about the resulting collage.

Why is it so hard for me to claim my strengths and gifts?

The first thing that strikes me most strongly is the center of the image, from a distance, looks like a void. Upon closer inspection it is actually a lighter image with jewelry hanging from a tree and the words “money does grow on trees.” Other words that pop are “strategist,” “great artists,” “you,” “work,” “the moment,” and “punk prose poetess.”

The next thing that strikes me most is the bright red in the collage. “The world’s great artists want to show you how they work” is next to a woman dancing. Her bodysuit has a grid on it, like the gridwork of the bridge, like the grids in the circuitry of the piano, the grid that is assumed underneath the graph the woman is drawing, and the tile-like pink gum. There is also a theme of electricity, with the circuitry and the wall socket, and the lightning.

The next most arresting images are the woman with her head in red bondage, and the collaged face. The red bondage could be the baggage from my upbringing with culturally very Chinese parents. There is a binding of my head, the modesty, the focus on the books. Right next to that image is the words “the moment” and I’m not sure what that is. Also the collaged face is an overlay of a child’s eyes onto Patti Smith’s face. The eyes of a child combined with the older, non-conformist, poetess. The pearl earrings suggest the gifts that are found within a pearl, an ugly slow process that produces a thing of beauty from an irritant. Also interesting is the modesty of the hellebores, the downward facing flowers that offer such sweet surprises. They are now being hybridized to try and develop flowers that have a more outward face. But how do I feel about their current beauty? I think there is something mysterious about it. The gifts, hidden. Maybe that’s like the oyster and the pearl too. Is it a funny coincidence that the name of these flowers reminds me of the words “Helen bores”?

The Thinker, the brain, the phrenology head, all point to something that is being mulled and thought. There is the obvious, that my brain is a strength and gift, but while I thought of myself as the smart girl I didn’t have the feeling that I was in the top of the class. Why? Perhaps because of my ingrained Chinese modesty. Perhaps because of that non-conformist punk in me. I was into punk and new wave as a kid, and it was a taste in music that felt a bit outside. I was proud of that outsider status, and I had always felt like one anyway because of what growing up Chinese-American in the white suburbs was like. I also hated that outsider status because I wanted the comfort of belonging.

Another theme in this collage is music. The piano, the actor carrying a well-worn guitar case, the wizened visage of Patti Smith. What is it about Punk Prose Poetess? These are words that are funny together. “Putting it all together” is a challenge and I feel I’m running out of time.

The avatar is staring me down. I haven’t seen the movie and I’m not sure I’m going to, but there he is. The avatar is a substitute, a symbol, an imaginary me. What would my imaginary me be? Am I the dancer? Am I the disheveled punk? Am I the businesswoman drawing a chart? Am I the child wearing glasses, toys plunked down near the wall socket? Lost my fuzzy lamb, a kangaroo? Am I the woman with her head in bondage? Am I the actor musician walking down the street? Am I the thinker?

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