What to do With a Blank Slate?
I am participating in an interesting challenge proposed by the editors of ClothPaperScissors magazine. The proposal is that I, along with 9 other artists, would be sent a package of mystery products and we would have a month to make art using these materials, we would then send our art to the magazine and some of the art will be published in a subsequent issue. When the call for artist came I jump at the chance. It seemed to fit my own personal creative challenge to make art and stretch inventive imaginative muscles in new ways. Well the package came Wednesday, and my excitement quickly turned to doubts. The materials are a line of products from Grafix, there is translucent drawing film, transfer film, printable transparency film, and shrink film. These are products I’ve used in various ways before, so upon opening the envelope I quickly began thinking of the ways I’d used them before and how I could do that same thing again for this challenge. The pressure is on and I don’t want to fail so my mind raced to the safety of familiarity, “do what you know” it seemed to say, “don’t do anything risky”. I decided to set it aside for a couple of days to let ideas plop down in this empty pool and see what floats, I want to use the creative muscles I have but I want to stretch too, so I’m going to leave this blank slate blank for the weekend and then on Monday start making my mark.
This idea of the blank slate came with me this morning as I took a long walk with my dog, Lucky. Long walks are my best thinking time my body is moving, my mind is open. So naturally I began to think about the magazine challenge, not the specifics of the challenge per say, but the idea of the blank slate. The feeling of both fear and excitement at such a rare moment being offered up for the taking. In life these blank slate moments present themselves rarely. Going off to college is a big one, new relationships another, but as we get older these blank slate opportunities are infrequent and fraught. It makes me think of my sister, who has been working at a job she doesn’t like and hasn’t ever really felt her full self in for seven years. Right after the New Year she gave notice! At the end of the month she is leaving, walking right onto a blank slate. She is filled with both apprehension and elation at this ending and beginning. I also have a friend who is confronting a blank slate moment in his life. His marriage has fallen apart and he and his wife have separated. He is dismayed and relieved all at the same time. There is struggle ahead for both of these blank slate moments I’m referencing here, all the hard questions; “who am I?”, “what gives life meaning?”, “what next?” These questions deserve time, a pause to ponder, let the slate be blank. As I pondered these things on my walk a line from a favorite poem from Mary Oliver popped into my head like a mantra “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” All we can hope for is to stand unflinching before these blank slate moments, pause and then make a mark, your own mark, bold and true.
I’ll keep you posted on my Cloth/Paper/Scissors conundrum, here is a link to the website that I found the blank slate image on.