Liz Kettle here, posting today about my progress…or lack of…my Empty Spaces piece. I was immediately intrigued with the proposed title Empty Spaces and thought to myself…wow that sounds like an easy theme to work with! Boy was I wrong. I thought I had a bunch of ideas and I did but the problem was that I ended up completely stalled out because I found myself spinning in circles. I had too many ideas and none of them were any good.
I once took a test that was supposed to tell you if you worked predominately from your left (analytical) or right (creative) brain. I scored really close to a balanced middle brain thinker. At the time I proudly thought this was a reflection of how well balanced I am and how well rounded my thinking skills are. HA! Well...You all know what happens to pride before the fall right? This balanced brain was my undoing in this art endeavor.
First of all, I am a bit of a science geek. I home-schooled two of my kids through high school and we did a lot of science. I love learning about quarks, string theory, neutrinos and black holes. There is no such thing as empty space. There is no glass half full…they are all full. This fact kept pushing to the surface every time I started thinking about empty spaces. I tried to outsmart myself…thinking about psychological empty spaces in our hearts, lives and experiences but I kept coming back to the notion that even empty spaces in our hearts are filled in with love, longing or regret. Empty spaces in our lives are often filled up with physical stuff. That led me to a personal rant on how we have too much stuff and I considered doing a piece featuring the absurdity of the storage units phenomenon but that felt too confrontational and judgmental for my art. Still spinning in circles.
Next I asked myself is empty space positive or negative, black or white, figure or ground? This intrigued me but I still kept going round in circles because I had no answers to these questions and at every turn I could only think that there is no empty space! At this point the deadline is looming and I really just have to start something. When I am totally flummoxed but still need to work my salvation is in cleaning the studio. Not cleaning cleaning...there is no dusting or vacuuming. I pull out piles and sort them. I move fabric around, pull it out, fold it, put it back. I find lost scissors and rulers and that little doo-dad that would have been perfect on my last project. I make a mess piling fabrics up, touching and folding trying not to think too much.
On this day I was guided to my overflowing bin of hand dyed, mono-printed and painted fabrics. What a mess! I dumped it all out and folded and sorted. Towards the bottom of the pile I discovered this:
Wow! It was black and white, figure and ground, positive and negative…this could turn into something. There is a pattern underlying the black and white reflective of the idea of empty space not being empty and best of all there are CIRCLES so I could stop my incessant mind spinning. This has potential!
I am hand stitching the top. I love hand stitching and because my spring schedule has me away from my machine so much it will allow me to work while I am on the road. I have developed a compulsion to densely hand stitch in blending thread colors. It is a bit insane when I stop to think about it because the stitching can't be seen unless you look closely. But then again, asking the viewer to slow down and look closely is what I am aiming for.