Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just Keep Going

Just keep going. That was what I had to tell myself this morning as I approached my studio. I was feeling a bit disheartened, a lack of confidence for sure, the negative chatter getting louder and louder.

Back in early July, I responded to an open call for artists to contribute an 8x8 piece of art to the 100th Monkey Studio in Portland. The studio was assembling a “50-50 Show,” inspired by the 100th monkey phenomenon and with a theme of art as social change. The deadline to submit artwork was today and as of this morning, I had nothing.

I had been thinking about what I wanted to do for weeks and various ideas floated in and out of my head. I talked to my daughter Amy about some themes, talked to Howard about how I wanted to approach the piece. I read and reread the story about the 100th monkey phenomenon. In case you’re wondering what the heck the phenomenon is, here’s how the studio describes it:

The name of the studio was inspired by a story one of the partners read. It is a story that some believe to be fiction, but the message is one of positive social change.

The Japanese monkey, Macaca Fuscata, had been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years. It was documented that in 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists had been leaving the monkeys sweet potatoes in the sand in exchange for a look into their social culture.

In 1958, one female was documented as washing the sweet potatoes in a nearby stream to rid it of the dirt and sand. She was documented as teaching the habit to her mother and her playmates. The new trait spread throughout the island. Suddenly not just on this island, but on surrounding islands and onto the mainland monkeys were washing their food.

The number 100 is merely a symbol, but in the story it was used to recognize when the trait forever changed the species. This magical occurrence was named the 100th Monkey Phenomenon.

So today I arrived at the studio knowing I had a small window to create a piece of art for the show and then hop in my car and get it to Portland, an hour's drive away. I took a deep breath, put Black Eyed Peas on my iPod, danced around a bit, said a little prayer, and told myself to “do what I know.” And so I did, I started to glue down tissue paper and words, I added texture and designs. I danced and told myself to just keep going. Before I knew it, my piece was complete, except for a title. I went to my bookshelf and pulled out a book of quotes from author Paulo Coelho and the first quote I read was the one I chose (from The Zahir).

We are all growing and changing,
We notice certain weaknesses
That need to be corrected,
And although we may not always
Choose the best solution, we carry on regardless.

I added a line from the quote to my art: we carry on regardless. I glued the full quote from the book to the back of my art so whoever purchases it can know where the line on the front came from.

The final embellishment was a little clay piece that I purchased from Clarissa Callesen at ArtFest last year and was what I named the piece: ASPIRE.

Here's how my morning progressed:

My finished piece, Aspire.

I jumped in the car, drove to Portland, had lunch with Amy and my grandsons, dropped off the piece at the 100th Monkey, and before hopping back on I-5, I made a little stop at a store I’ve been wanting to visit for years. But that’s another blog post . . . .

The studio where my art will be hanging:

The show is a celebration of the studio’s third anniversary (3rd Annual Juried Show) and a fundraiser for the 100th Monkey Scholarship Fund (50-50 Show). For the 50-50 show, there will be 50 artists participating and each piece of art will be sold for $50. Please join the First Friday Opening on September 4th from 6:00-9:00 p.m. The studio is located at 110 S.E. 16th Avenue and the show runs through the end of September.


Nena's Art & Designs said...

Great inspiration! I actually saw a documentary on these monkeys, and they do indeed go wash their potatoes. It has become a learned behavior. Keep up the great work!

gl. said...

a very inspiring story, dayna. reminds me of something shawn demarest says: "just keep peddling that bicycle." :)

vicki said...

love your piece. the story also. i'm drawn toward to blackbirds, could it be a raven? but it also reminded me of anne lamont's "bird by bird": the word aspire, your pushing yourself to do it, the creating in the moment.