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What's Original?

I've been circulating on FB and in blogland this past month as I usually do and something in the global mindset has struck me. Maybe it's the pull of the harvest moon with its iconic orb driving a universal chord of circular elements to appear in "friends'" work in every variation of ellipse.

Simultaneously, Morna Crites Moore's blogpost pondered the use of the cross symbol in her work highlighting it's use by so many other artists she knows.

Judy Martin's reference to "archetype" enhanced the virtual conversation in a recent response to another blog post. She built a body of work around circles.

It got me to thinking. Circles, grids, x' s - you name it, there are overlaps of these primitive marks in every culture, including artists. And we channel them constantly in our effort to find expression as we encapsulate myth and metaphor amid the paint and thread. They are as effective as punctuation marks and their usefulness in art and stitching is hard to ignore.

Ironically, (or maybe just in the free-form nature of thought patterns) my work is taking me deeper in and out of personal stories about the nature of memory and loss of memory. As I navigate designing among a series of hand-carved circle prints, I wonder how I can execute the output in my own handwriting and stay authentic when drawn to the common shapes and symbols that appear everywhere.

So I've given the idea of originality some time to simmer and distill into a hearty broth, seasoned with subjectivity of course. I'm serving it up, so join me if you like. My argument for this unconscious repetition of archetypes in our artwork is simple and unavoidable. It's in our DNA.

I've been a believer for a long time that I got my artistic leaning and a skillful set of hands from my ancestors. I wish I had a picture of the wall-sized abstract orange painting (It was the 60's) that hung in my aunt and uncle's dining room - the one my uncle had painted, the one that made me want to be a painter the first second I saw it, when I was only seven. He was the son of an ornamental bricklayer, who married, Anna, nee Beckmann as in Max Beckmann - a figment of my legend. And on the other side of the family, from another part of Europe a crafty gal, my grandmother could crochet lace circles around her third grade education. For me it's in the genes, as are all the icons, images, metaphors and marks. It's beyond my instinct and logic to avoid discovering and repurposing what has been coded into the body though forces beyond my control.

So how about "genetic memory?" I didn't have to look far to gather scientific content on the subject. I've believe in it, not so much because I have and acknowledge my constant intuition, but because I see innate concrete evidence presenting itself in my life and in my work that goes beyond the grassroots cultural. Other knowing reaches beyond my recorded genealogy to the archetypal.

Originality? I see originality as a new texture woven from the same essential materials. Take or leave my soup, but stay true to yourself and keep making art.

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