Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Optimism (The Mask)

A friend of mine is working on opening up an expressive arts studio and therapy center. She's been running a couple workshops over the last few weeks and invited me to participate. And, well, since I like artsy stuff and I like therapy, art therapy is like the chocolate truffle of mental health activities; I just can't get enough!

For the last two weeks I joined Nancy and several other ladies in mask making. Last week we made actual molds of our faces out of plaster (and some interesting possible poem thoughts came to my mind. . .) and this week we transformed those masks into something completely different.

Nancy really encouraged me to come to the art-making process with no preconceived notions. No thinking ahead. No planning out. No pushing or prodding or researching. She and I have talked about how my writing has stagnated--possibly because I've been spending too much energy thinking and planning and researching and prodding and not enough time playing. Well, tonight I had notions and I had ideas (it's so hard to let go of my intellect!) but when Nancy pointed out that I was welcome to use her lighter as part of my art all those ideas went up in smoke.

The aim-n-flame and I spent quite a bit of time together and, after Sarah mentioned something about layers and Heather said I was creepy, well, I followed my gut and "Optimism (The Mask)" was born. When I brought it home my husband was kind enough to say he thought it looked like real art--like Nancy had been giving me some professional guidance. (I'm not sure I believe him, but that was sure nice of him to say.) I don't know if I'd call it art--at least not with all the strings that come attached to that word--but it was definitely exciting and interesting and troubling and consuming to create. It definitely stirred people up. It made me feel alive in all the places that being depressed (and pregnant) make me feel dead. And those things, in my mind, make it at least artist-ic.

So here it is in all it's ugly/beautiful glory. "Optimism (The Mask)". Enjoy. Or cringe. Just go with your gut. (P.S. In real life you can tell, but in the picture you can't. The newsprint is obituaries. That was a deliberate and significant choice on my part. And not just because it's morbid. And the things on it's eyes are rose-colored glasses.)Yes, I know. I'm strange. And possibly deeply troubled. *sigh* You'll just have to accept it.


Sarah said...

The picture doesn't do the mask justice. The "artistic response" in real life is considerably stronger, deeper.
I enjoyed participating in the creative process with you and watching you let go. Sharing the class with you and the other girls has truly made the experience richer.

Coffinberry said...

Interesting. A 2-d photograph is depth ambiguous. Maybe it says more about me and my personal mood at the moment when I say my first thought was to wonder if I was looking at the inside or the outside of the mask, and to wonder what was on the other side?

Tyler said...

Way to roast that mask, Laura! I especially like the contrast between the glitter/bright paint and the charred newsprint. Very shocking. Very thought-provoking. I like it.