Archive for March, 2011

Embracing imperfection

Monday, March 14th, 2011
CAN SPRING BE FAR AWAY?
First, the News of the Day: I’ve been asked by the Janome sewing machine company to be the Featured Artist for their booth at the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California slated for July 28-31, 2011. The theme this year is The Four Seasons – right up my alley! I will post more about this exciting event as the date approaches, and will let you know what I decide: should I go in person this time? It seems that my work shows up in many of these Quilt extravaganzas, but the maker (me) never seems to follow. Let’s just say, maybe it’s time.
On Perfection/Imperfection:
Many many times, viewers of my work make the comment that I must be a perfectionist. While I know this comes from a good place with the best of intentions, I find it incredibly puzzling. Without even looking hard, I see dozens if not hundreds of flaws: threads hanging, yarns in less-than-ideal positions, colours and contrasts that don’t work that well, stitching that could have been more in keeping with the lines…. not to mention lack of classic balance and ignoring the rules of design with predictable results. Just off the top of my head, I can think of all kinds of improvements to make in even the best of my pieces.
But I can let that be, and I’m not shy about it – I might even say that in some cases I allow these imperfections to flourish. Below is an excerpt from an interview I did a few years ago with Dr Bernie Herman, in answer to his question about how I feel about imperfection in my work:
“I humbly believe my art is a microcosm of what is happening each day on this Earth – that each piece I make captures (in the best way I can) one moment in a continuum of moments. It is not perfect but it buillds on previous experience, and is a step to the next level.
Just because one individual piece is not perfect does not mean it has less value. On the contrary, it has much to offer someone who is truly observing and searching – the mistakes, the inconsistencies, the omissions, the triumphs and failures – they are all there, plain to see. Each viewer enters it, contributes to it, and grows with it, in his own way. The viewer is a co-creator with the artist. This would not happen if the piece was perfect. The static state of Perfection is death for the soul.
Take the processes of Biology. A static grid could represent the orderly and mathematical process of cell division. But, during this process, even if everything proceeds as it should, surprises can happen at any point. How species adapt and evolve to deal with these surprises leads to their eventual wins and losses. Winners pass it on to the next generation. This is what drives evolution.”
Nothing moves without change.You could even say imperfection is BUILT IN to the DNA of life. And this fleeting moment is what I look for in other artwork too, not only in my own. The works I admire most contain within them a welcome mat, a place where I can cozy up and ride along with the maker. It is not about answers, but about intriguing questions that spur my imagination and challenge my preconceived notions.
So, no, I am absolutely NOT a perfectionist. Allowing and embracing imperfection and mistakes is how I evolve within my own work. This is what I want to pass on to viewers: I want to let them in, I want them to join me in my journey. I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that together we can explore those exciting questions, combine our strengths, and grow along together.
Till next time…. Lorraine