Sunday, August 1, 2010

Creativity, Spaces, Moving On..!

The house is very quiet -- no photographs to post, though that won't be true for much longer. We are going to move the fiber studio out of its 'birthplace,' so to speak, into new quarters about five miles away in another community to the northeast of Grosse Pointe, Michigan (St. Clair Shores). And I'm feeling oddly meditative, as if the occasion is somehow about more than just packing and unpacking a bunch of yarn, needles, hooks, buttons.

What is it about particular spaces that makes us want to create new things? Why are some spaces more conducive to creativity than others? And why do some of us (not everyone, I dare say -- which is no insult) care about such things to such an extreme degree? Why have I, for example, always fashioned new spaces as if my life literally depended on it, choosing paint colors, fabrics, furniture locations -- even when money was in short supply -- over many weeks' time, feeling my way along as the space came together, tinkering with it long after I'd settled in?

Private spaces, in my estimation, should be havens away from the rest of the world, retreats, quiet and harmonious.....which is why I moved from the beautiful townhouse I once owned not a mile from this house. There was a horrible woman next door who shrieked profanities at her son all day long, all night long, and it disrupted the sense of calm that I'd spent so much time cultivating in the house. I see, in retrospect, that I always create a soft, comparatively neutral background and pop colors off of it -- as with the present place, with its gray-green walls and earth tones, including spots of madder red. Men sometimes do this, too -- so its not only that I'm female -- I don't want to hear nonsense about how women are "natural" nesters, "natural" mothers....unless my first husband also was a "natural" mother. The second spouse loves small, cozy spaces that make him feel protected. At last check, he wasn't a "natural" mother either. In such spaces, people like us can write, knit, design, raise animals who genuinely display affection, reach out to whatever life-forces actually exist in the universe.....

But what about public spaces? As I think about the old and new studio spaces, it's clear that I wanted women's labor to really show. So I painted the walls a thick-cream color and let the colors SING for people when they walked in the door. There is a good, big seating area with cushy chairs and a loveseat and a coffee table and a big, black Ikea dining table with red chairs.......and there, as if by magic, people teach each other about what loops of wool will do when they're pulled through yet more wooly loops, when they are wrapped around crochet hooks, when they're made into a fabric and run through a washing machine or steamed or simply molded into beautiful shapes.

Best, I think, to let a warming, harmonizing container RECEDE so that the contents, the subject of the space -- whether it's hand-crafted wool or books or artworks -- can rise to meet whoever comes in. At Artisan Knitworks, the makers themselves rule the day -- the amazing women who put wool into dyepots, who pressed clay into buttons, who carved wood into shawl sticks -- and so the idea is to let them sing without any kind of background at home, where books and wool and the grand piano hold center stage, invisibly supported by watery gray-green.

I will take photographs of the new space and follow it along. Right now, it's a cacophony of primary colors -- a really unhealthy-feeling mixture of harsh purples, reds, blues, greens, yellows, with a dreadful burgundy tweed carpet. I'd like to rip the carpet out, but replacing it (I'd stain the cement and put gloss on it) has to wait until more money appears. So the idea will be to cream up the 16-foot, loft-like ceilings and walls so that they can welcome and celebrate the makers and encourage new artisans as they walk in the door, sit, talk.

More later. I need to do some academic work right now, go to the studio for a class, and sink back into the problem of making a new space later tonight. I'd love your thoughts as to why some spaces generate creativity and others do not. In the place as it is, I'd be astonished if anyone could think even one original thought.


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