A New Project: Falling and Shaking

Even though I have a summer deadline looming for “Calculated Risks”, over the past few weeks I have a new idea that’s been boiling for a new project.  The ideas I’m thinking about are strong enough that I can’t ignore them. What’s unusual about this new idea is the fear factor involved, which I generally don’t experience because I usually keep myself emotionally removed from my subject matter.  In the past my tendency has been to take an experience of my own but format it within the context of others which allows me to remove myself from the topic. This new idea is different because of how personal and emotional it is for me. For this reason, I can say that I’m actually afraid of making the decision to move forward and eventually realize this project. At the same time, that seems to be exactly the reason why I need to go forward with it.  I find it ironic that I can talk to my students all day about getting over their fears, and yet when it comes down to it I have the exact same difficulties conquering that fear.

It could be a long while before I’m even able to get to this new project, since after I finish the drawings for the Davis exhibition my intent is to get back into the printshop working on prints of the waders.  However, it always seems that the longer I have to allow a work to simmer, the more prepared I am in terms of the developing an idea when I am ready to get started. My idea for “Wading” actually came about in 2004, but it wasn’t until three years later that I was able to get back to it.

I won’t get into a lot of details on this new idea and where it came from since it’s so early in the process, but right now my thoughts are on images of figures that are falling and shaking at the same time. I see them as falling through an infinite space, with various parts of the body shaking from the slightest tremor to a violent thrust.  Below is a very quick sketch of this new idea.  I’m certain the project won’t look like this, but this was an initial thought.



8 thoughts on “A New Project: Falling and Shaking

  1. The way I see it, when you create a body of work, you can only work from your own perspective. Because you are the sole creator of those works, they all tie back to you. Naturally, people will start to see patterns in whatever you do and attribute them with you, whether it be your personality, your worldview, your past, or what have you.

    I think revealing personal aspects of yourself is inevitable when creating work. The issue then becomes whether or not you want to be subversive or overt. Some people would paint self portraits of themselves lighting their bodies on fire–others may paint a darkened landscape ravaged by fire. Sometimes these amount to the same thing.

    If you’re going to be sitting on this idea for a while, then you’re already doing what needs to be done… which is letting it stew and develop and evolve until the rawness feels less overwhelming and more like a coming-to-terms with whatever idea you are struggling with.

    (That’s how I do it, anyway.)

  2. Great points Emily. Now that I think about it, I think it’s actually more the writing of the artist statement that I worry about, rather than the actual making of the work itself. I wish I could say that it should only be about creating the work, and the work itself, but I know the reality is that at some point I will have to write about and speak about the project verbally.

    The main difference here is that I think this new project would require me to discuss personal issues in order to make any sense; in the past I’ve always been able to write my artist statements without having to directly reference myself or my own experience.

  3. Hi, Clara. I just wanted to say that I understand your feelings but at the same time, I’m very excited about your new direction. I, myself, always find inspirations and ideas directly from my personal experiences as well. And when I have to explain about them in front of people or public, I do feel very vulnerable.
    But I often feel that the most personal inspirations can impact people the most. I feel that more personal it is, more universal it could possibly become. All human beings share similar emotions and experiences. When I explain about my works, I keep telling myself, “there must be someone else who’s been in the similar situations as I have.”-then I feel a lot more comfortable speaking. And the fact that the artist is willing to share her personal experience through her works in order to connect with others, is I think beautiful and respectful.
    Clara, I know you’re brave. I can not wait to see your another beautiful body of works. Your new project sounds amazing and the new sketch is already exciting to see. Good luck!!

  4. Hi Sarah,
    I completely agree that personal experiences are what can affect viewers the most dramatically, which is exactly the reason why I’ve decided to move forward with this project. I’ve been going back and forth on this for about 2 months, and it’s great to get feedback on this decision.

    I think the part that makes most of us nervous when we speak about personal subjects is the feeling that we are voluntarily putting ourselves in a place where we can and will be judged by others. To a certain degree, I think this process is inherent in being an artist, as Emily mentioned in her above comment.

  5. http://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?recview=true&id=325407&coll_keywords=&coll_accession=&coll_name=&coll_artist=&coll_place=&coll_medium=&coll_culture=&coll_classification=&coll_credit=&coll_provenance=&coll_location=&coll_has_images=&coll_on_view=&coll_sort=0&coll_sort_order=0&coll_view=0&coll_package=11384&coll_start=751

    Hi Clara,
    You may already be aware of this print (Michael Mazur’s “A Still and Rocking Figure- Below, the Restless”), but I immediately thought of it after reading your thoughts and looking at your sketch. I made of copy of this image junior year when I was still using the figure in my work because I was fascinated by how Mazur was able to convey a figure in motion so vividly without being ostentatious about it. The RISD museum has an impression of it if you wanted to see it in person.


  6. Hi Myles,
    I first saw Mazur’s lithographs of locked wards a few months back at the print room at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, but I wasn’t familiar with this specific image. I’ve always been amazed by Mazur’s ability to create a delicate balance of gesture and spontaneity within the context of a sustained drawing. I’ll definitely have to take a look in person at the RISD Museum. Thanks for the suggestion!

  7. To Myles and Clara-

    What a good connection! It made me think of another Mazur monoprint in the RISD print collection- it’s called “mad dog”. It seems to be made with a few convulsive marks and the whole thing vibrates with movement. Absolutely worth the visit.


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