Friday, March 18, 2011

Small Things

Kyle Chayka writes in Hyperalleric: Is Ambient Creativity Killing Our Ambition? The article and title really hit me because I was just thinking of how online creativity revolutionized my collage making. And all for the better.

You probably couldn’t say that about many forms of art. The article mostly dwells on the written word and how it has been diluted to a tweet. The speculation is that the flighty ambience of online activity doesn't foster the Great American Novel. And it may not bode well for the Great American Painting.

But just yesterday I made a collage that is quite small – about 7 by 7 ½ inches. There was a time – most of my art-making time – when that size might relegate it to a non-serious status. It would be a gift, maybe. Or I would just consider it a toss-off.

Living in a JPEG world changed all of that. 99% of the eyes who see my jpgs will never see the real thing. It’s all reduced to what fits on a screen. So while this downsized my big, acidic paintings, it totally raised my photomontage. The playing field in general changed. When I finished the woman above, her petite qualities did not dismiss her.

As to toss-offs, I’ve known for years that a toss-off can be a spark of genius and conversely, a labored piece can always look just that and nothing more. I remember reading a quote from Bill Ball, the director of the American Conservatory Theatre, years ago: Artists should be constantly working. That way your best work just gets tossed off along with everything else. That made so much sense to me. Art is not the big event. It’s not a big piece or an important piece or any of that. It’s everyday and it’s all the time and it resides in small things too.


-carywd said...

- love no. 17

namastenancy said...

Great post, as always. We must be on parallel tracks because my recent work is small watercolors. I love doing them, they are quick and when they "work" are fresh and lovely. I still have a studio of oil paintings which represents years and years of work. I don't begrudge the time and effort that I put into them but with my new "career" as a journalist, i value more work that's fresh and accessible. Besides, I just helped a friend move out of town. The building was bought by a real estate mega-mogul and she was evicted from her apartment. She's a senior, like me, and had to move north to find affordable housing. When I see things like this, I am less interested in compiling more heavy paintings that won't sell.
Besides, as you have proved, small is beautiful.

harold hollingsworth said...

on the same plain, I'm reading The Shallows, How the Internet Effects Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, which had me shutting down my Facebook and time spent web distracted, but on the visual side, I agree with you Eva, so much the better for applying and trying things, editing, and just fluidity.

Eva said...

Actually I can trace the entire regeneration of my collage career to online activity.

Everyone knows the story now: a dealer told me (in '85) I'd never make it as a collage artist and that I must beccome a painter.
And so I did. I never stopped making collages but stopped showing/promoting them. They seemed like a lesser art, or at least to some people. I felt like I was always fighting upstream with them as regards The Art World.

Then I started keeping an online diary in '99 and eventually scanned a bunch of collages and posted them. Then I took those jpgs, printed them and it was how I got an exhibition for the works in 2002.

Things were never the same after that. Because whether it's a tiny collage or a great big painting, everything must share the same size of exhibition space - the screen. Over time it's become a great equalizer.