“Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away , getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing.” Rebecca Solnit
In this transition time between winter and summer, between last year’s warp and the new one I am presently dreaming up the colors for, I have been reading Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Her premise for the whole book is the philosopher Meno’s question, “How will you go about finding the thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?” As an inquisitive, often too analytical maker of completely unnecessary physical objects, I usually finish up a long involved piece and then engage myself in a drawn-out ontological dialogue about what to make next and why. With this last iteration of Sun, Moon and Stars weavings, I feel that I have finally successfully made what I have been seeing in my mind’s eye for a long time, so that now I am a little, well, lost, as how to proceed. Solnit’s book helped me see that accepting the unknown and even delving into it is actually a positive and even desirable place to go.
“The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration – how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?”
Yesterday I had the pleasure of finally having a wonderful conversation with an artist who had been at Marshall High Studios for several years but whom I had never really talked with. I’d heard she was funny and interesting and her work surely reflected that. So imagine my surprise yesterday when she told me she was going to school for massage therapy. She agreed with me that it was a left turn into the unknown, especially for an artist who used to prefer self-isolation in her studio for days on end. Now she is spending time intimately with other people who are trusting her to treat their body with care. But, she said, it has opened up her work, by taking some weight off of it and letting it breathe. Like...a body.
“Certainly for artists of all stripes, the unknown, the idea or the form or the tale that has not yet arrived, is what must be found. It is the job of artists to open doors and invite in prophesies, the unknown, the unfamiliar; it’s where their work comes from, although its arrival signals the beginning of the long disciplined process of making it their own.”
As a musician, for a variety of reasons, I never was able to begin a journey into the creative unknown. But with weaving, I think I have finally arrived at that threshold. Comfortable disorientation. Letting the mystery be. A final Solnit quote that resonated:
“There’s an art of attending to the weather, to the route you take, to the landmarks along the way, to how if you turn around you can see how different the journey back looks from the journey out, to reading the sun and moon and stars (italics mine) to orient yourself, to the direction of running water, to the thousand things that make the wild a text that can be read by the literate.”
Bird's nest with my coverlet scraps