Living with another visual artist is an exercise in comparison and contrast, influence and independence. It can be a three legged race. You can be more sure of your partner’s work than of your own.
I am not sure of my own work at all now. But I have seen my husband, very talented, move like the wind in the past four years. He has more talent; I have more credentials.
At the beginning of our relationship, my interest in textiles was on the wane. Had been for some years. As a student, my interest did not lay in exploring two dimensions with pure shapes. Later when teaching this material, I saw that giving students limited options in composition and limited tools with which to create enabled me to see in each student their humanity and creativity. My secret desire was to fulfill all the projects given to my students. I was tired of symbolism. I wanted to be Chinese or Japanese and make minimal compositions. Content, puns, text—all these things were still important to me.
On the other hand, Glenn was a sculptural impressionist using metal lines. He moves through the world noticing parts of figures. Where I have to see something, he can pull up a mental sketchbook and draw six thumbnails relating to the idea under discussion. I have the words, he has the ammunition.
Before either one of us knew it, we were both pulling towards some kind of common middle.
One huge part of our lives which was not revealed in our work was our love of flea markets and all the potential for making art it can deliver. For many years, I had tried to incorporate some kind of “found ” objects into my embroideries, (as above), but the stitched work was just too fine. Nothing else could survive with it, even beads. Maybe I did not try long enough.
What you choose to live with, or what you choose to buy at a flea market reflects your style in an elementary sense. Choice is style. What you have around you will have common denominators in characteristics. Just like an art student might get the best design results using a triangle and therefore often uses one in a design solution, one might feel most comfortable living with a wall of planters that look like tree trunks. Or whatever.
Glenn loves old trucks and tractors.
Here are two old ones that he uses regularly. His soul is mingled with old parts like this. Slowly in the past summer, and then much faster as the summer passed, he began to buy old tractor and implement parts. Then his work turned, and it made a whole lot of sense to me. Isn’t the following sculpture a much less conventional way to create personal expression, and a more unusual solution to a design problem?
These final two examples are about “cleavage”. All elements either cleave, or have been cleaved.