There is a sculpture in Columbus Indiana, where I grew up, called Chaos I by Jean Tinguely. It is huge and metal and sometimes it moves; a giant cannonball traveling through a giant mousetrap. I remember it being very loud. For illustrative purposes, I like to think of my brain as a smaller version of this sculpture. Always moving and always noisy. And surrounding this loud mechanical brain are 5 or 6 news-tickers, like you see at the bottom of news and sports shows. These are moving around at various speeds and some of them are very bright. The fonts are all different and some are a jumbled unreadable mess. It is loud and bright and confusing. Art and writing are an attempt, I think, to make sense of this chaos.
I struggled for a long time with the validity of getting an art degree followed by a creative writing degree. I struggled with what I thought it meant to be an artist or a writer. I still don’t have clear definitions of either of these or how they apply to myself. But I know I like to make things and I like moving words around on a page. I like the mess of glue and scissors and paint. I like the sound of pencil on paper.
Art and writing are too intertwined for me to be viewed as separate disciplines. They are tools in my creative toolbox; languages in my mind. The more ways I know how to make things, the less crazy I feel. Making is a kind of meditation for me, slowing down the inner chaos so it is less loud and not so blinding bright. Creating, in all its forms, allows me to hear and see things that are normally hidden behind the noise.
For the past 10 months I have been lucky enough to work in the Youth Services department at the Library. I have free reign of the craft supply closet and my own mobile Art Cart. I’ve started a Bookmaking Club. Some patrons refer to me as the Library Art Lady. One coworker has told me that my process-based approach to craft-making has given her more freedom (and less anxiety) in how she approaches storytime crafts. Another constantly thanks me for the magic and joy my displays and craft ideas and general personality bring to the department. And everyday I get to make something.
Confidence boosts for sure, but also a reminder to not get caught up what I used to think it meant to be an artist or a writer. It is less about the final product (although this is important at some point) and more about the simple, and sometimes not-so-simple, acts of creating. It’s about putting everything I have into the processes and finding who I am in the making.