Friday, April 15, 2011

Art in Pieces (One)

Each change of the liturgical calendar brings a new installation at the front of our church. I've been involved in a few, although less so over the last couple years.

Last week, however, they announced that they would like the congregation to help with the Easter installation this year.

The idea was to put up a painting which would fill the front wall of the sanctuary. The plan was to "cut up" the painting into 42 sections and have people bring home a section and depict that part of the painting in whichever medium they preferred.

The pieces are due this Sunday--only one week after being handed out!! The people were aflutter after the service with the most common question being asked, "Are you taking a square?" The question I most often heard was, "Are you going to knit one?"

I ended up taking two squares home. (That was more common; don't be calling me an over achiever.) I had too many ideas to make just one!!

Quilting would have been fun, but I was worried about the one week deadline and finding fabrics to match etc. I've always liked working with paper and find it very comfortable, so I thought I would try that instead.

I first shopped around in a flurry assembling all the colours I needed for my square:

I then cut the tissue into squares and started gluing it down in little cup shapes.
I would wrap the tissue square around the end of the marker and then press it into the glue.

After an hour's work on Monday night, I tried to convince myself I maybe had 10 percent done:
Then I realized it would be very easy to check that. The instructions suggested drawing lines on the square to divide it into 10x10 sections. The drawing we were given was already gridded up in the same way. It made it much easier to transfer the design. So my board was divided into 100 squares. I only needed to count the covered ones to know how far I was.

And that was...5 percent, not 10. At that rate I had 19 more hours to go. That was not going to fly...

Instead of giving up, I changed the scale. I cut my squares twice as big and used a highlighter instead of a skinny marker.

That worked much better. Tuesday I put in about 3 hours and got about 30 percent done:

Wednesday I put in another hour after choir and got about 35 percent more done:

And Thursday, I finished it up with another few hours:

Here's the picture I was given so you can compare:
Not bad, right?

Although I could do without the time pressure (a little more notice next year, maybe, guys?), it was a lot of fun. I recently read Picture This by Lynda Barry and this project tied in very nicely.

It's a graphic novel that explores why people draw, what drawing can do for them and other related issues. She talks about a place drawing can take you. So you're not making a drawing (noun), you're drawing (verb). What comes out of it may not matter--what do you get out of the act of drawing?

The analogy she used in an interview was riding a bike. You can enjoy a bike ride purely for the action of biking around. But how would that change if when you got home, someone showed you a video of your ride and told you that you aren't good at riding a bike? Are you out riding a bike because it makes you feel good, or are you out there trying to produce the perfect bike ride?

Anyway the book is thought provoking and challenging. One exercise she tells you to do is to spend some time just drawing dots on a page. Fill the whole page with dots. It's not a "waste of time" if it helps you clear your mind, or process stuff. And that is basically what I did with this square. I filled it in with dots of tissue.

This evening there was a support group of sorts for people who wanted to get together to work on their squares. It was mostly directed at people who were painting and may want to share and borrow paint supplies. I wasn't painting, but I'm excited about the project and wanted to get in on the action.

We started with a nice informal potluck dinner. (Food is what makes it a party, after all.) Then people got to work:
Mother and daughters working on a square.

Another family working on a square.

Father and daughter each working on their own project.

And Ali working on her own square. She is a very confident painter--the girl knows her stuff!!

And what was I doing all this time besides eating and taking pictures? (Because I sure wasn't painting...)

I was knitting. Yes, I am knitting a square. I finished the brute knitting part of it this evening. In fact, I just realized it's still in the washing machine and I need to go down and pin it for blocking...gotta go!!


  1. Another great idea for the installation! Thanks for the pictures. Please post one of the complete project!


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