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Bite-Sized Art: How Do You Start?

My life is my art, and explaining exactly what I mean by that can be a bit daunting. For me. For the reader. For everyone. It's a B-I-G thing to transform your life into art, and not everyone sees the world through art-colored glasses.

So I started up a new column to give you bite-sized helpings of my art. I won't be focusing on products (e.g. zines, chapbooks, videos, photos, fables, etc.) as those are not my art. Instead, I am examining aspects of how I live and create amidst all this chaos, suffering, and death. In other words, the alchemy of art. 

***

Over the past year, I've been working with Rupy C. Tut and a number of immigrant artists to co-create the Immigrant Artist Network. We've already run one cohort of Virtual Salons over the Spring. We met over eight sessions to share works-in-progress, develop how we talk about art, and co-create mutual support and care. 

Now, we are morphing into a new form, one that is more distributed and leader-full. As part of this shift, different artists are helping create prompts and art activities that they then lead with the group. It's a fun way to practice facilitation with a safe group, make art together, and discover something new about ourselves and each other. 

Yesterday was our first session of this new model. Sindhu Natarajan provided our first prompt and Amirra Malak facilitated the activity. We had 35 minutes of art-making on a 4-inch by 4-inch surface in our home studios, which offered all of us a way to really think deeply about, "how do you start?

Each of us came up with a different approach to starting, and yet contained within all of them was a meditation on being and surroundings. All of us used some sort of grid in our response, whether seen, erased, or hidden. All of us started by getting our space ready, and then committing our pen to paper (or in my case iPad.)  All of us made a completed work by the time the activity was over.

Here's mine: 

A line drawing of my work space including a laptop, iPad, book, joint and ashtray, soda can, couch, and coffee table. Words describe what the various objects mean to Jason Wyman, the artist.

For me, this drawing is not art. Rather, it is a byproduct of art. 

Art here is the approach I took. It began by arranging my environment just a bit. It continued with capturing the moment with a snap. Then, I sat in my chair, picked up my iPad, and got to drawing. When the line drawing was done, I looked at the drawing and my surroundings and noticed what this external image represented about my internal workings. I named them in pink and placed them in a space they seemed to fit.

What I named was: 

  • Take a moment to set your space.
  • Create parameters and break them.
  • Smoke a joint.
  • Keep inspiring materials close.
  • Keep some open space.
  • Look around and notice what's around.
  • It's ok if there's a mess.
  • Have a place to rest.
  • Drink lots of liquids.
  • ¬†

    Art is an exchange of meaning making whether between yourself and your environment or you and others or you and the cosmos. And that meaning doesn't have to make sense. It just needs to be expressed. Just look at what all five of us created in 35 minutes, and two of us don't even identify as visual artists. 

    Art making starts when you pick up your pen and start sketching what you see or writing what you're thinking or doodling whatever the hell you feel. 

    So go make some art today! 

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