In the dark

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It has been a busy week for art, and for life!

This week I finished putting together the silhouettes for my new series (but I still can’t remember the name I had come up with for it – double argh!).

I then had the fun of going to see the great folks over at Pagoda and having all my little people laser cut out of basswood.

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This time they had covered the wood with masking tape before cutting, so I was left with all these interesting tape silhouettes to play around with.

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Then I picked up the panels for round 2 of All In.

And of course last night I got to enjoy the now all-too-rare experience of going out with friends to an evening art event: Taste at Root Division. (With big thanks to my husband for the childcare.) My work sold, and I got to try lots of amazing food and even have great conversations with both old friends and new ones, so it was a very good night for me!

Amidst all this, I got many other, non-art-related things done too.

Do you find it easy to fall into defining yourself by what you get done? I have to say, I didn’t realize how much this was true for me until I became a mother and all of a sudden it felt like I couldn’t get anything done!

It was awful, but then it became kind of wonderful, as it forced me to let go of all the things that weren’t necessities. And to remember to separate my sense of self from my task list.

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(In case you were wondering, “shoot crowd” here refers to taking a photograph of one of my Wood & Water pieces; I do not have homicidal to-do lists.)

I was reminded of this last weekend when I went up to Forestville for a break from the city-ness of it all.

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One night, just after the sun went down, I was walking up this small road to get to our place and went through a tunnel of trees that caused a patch of complete darkness. At first I rushed through it, but then I paused and went back and stood right in the middle of the black, letting it soak in.

It is so easy to run from darkness. But I think we need the dark too. I think it helps us to see ourselves unadorned, without all the trappings we, knowingly or not, adopt as identity.

I had a powerful personal experience with this when, at age 20, I was lucky enough to wind up standing at the end of a dirt road with no street lights at night in a small town in Egypt. That spot, where even the stars were strangers to me, was like the end of a figurative road I had taken on which most of the things I thought were true about myself had turned out to be suspect.

That strange place and that darkness gave me the gift of a sense of myself separate from friends, family, or culture. Alone. Unshakable.

So I was happy to take my place in this little patch of dark and be reminded. To bump into myself, so to speak.

And of course it made me think of the line: “What do you see when you turn out the light?/I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine.” Which supposedly (from his own account) was John Lennon’s one contribution to With a Little Help from My Friends. Interestingly (at least to me), they had apparently been up all night and then had Ringo sing this solo just before they left the studio at dawn, the day before they posed for the Sgt. Pepper’s cover.

Just like the song, I also can’t tell you what I see in that darkness, but I can tell you that it’s pretty close to what I’m looking for every time I go into the studio.

So here’s to finding those patches of darkness and letting ourselves just stay in them awhile. Without a fight.

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