Earlier this month I got several emails from mixed-medial artist and tarot maker Dawn Zichko, whose work I’ve known and liked for quite some time. I wrote another SHARDS post about her about five years ago.
In her first email, Dawn sent a photo with a short note that said,
“Lyn, I thought you might enjoy seeing progress on a collaborative piece.”
Here was the photo (below) – very intriguing – and some of my faces were part of the collaborative design. I asked her if I could share the photo, and she requested that I wait until they had worked a bit more on it.
I’m including that unfinished version so you can see the structure of the body.
The following week she sent photos of the completed collaborative piece along with this description of the process:
“Lyn, we created the Earth Protectress in ritual space. In brainstorming at earlier gatherings, the creation of a goddess was included in the list. So we all thought of creating her. In the sacred space we chose the parts we wanted to work on by chakra.
Essie (not her real name as she would like to remain anonymous) created the head/Third Eye/Crown, Patricia created the torso/Heart/Solar Plexus, and I created the base/Root and neck/Throat (this is the part that needed reconstruction — oh, the analogies!).”
“The other women let me take her home and run with the additions. The clay faces, hair, pouch, and skirt were all done by me, but the additions were discussed with Essie and Patricia before working on them. I am blessed they trusted my creative ramblings. It was truly a touching experience to create this being in togetherness and sacred space.”
I think it’s just glorious – the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and yet each part is amazing.
Artist collaborations can be tricky – sometimes it’s obvious which person did what part, but in this case, there is a seamless sense of sacred purpose. Thanks, Dawn, for sharing this work!
Have you ever gotten involved with a collaborative project? How’d it work for you?
I have to admit, it’s something I’ve rarely tried, certainly not recently. But a lot of my artist friends, particularly fiber artists, love the collaborative process.
Surprisingly, there’s not a whole lot written about collaborative visual artwork, but I did find this thoughtful post called Cloth, Creativity & Collaborating with fiber artists Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly.
And I also found an engaging article about a mother’s painting with her five-year-old daughter called Making a Masterpiece Together. Here were their guidelines:
1. We would each add one color to the canvas everyday.
2. We would do our painting while the other one was out of the room, so they would be surprised.
3. We would try not to paint completely over the other persons art work.
Those are great rules! They would work for any kind of collaboration, whether the artwork is done for a sacred and serious purpose like Dawn’s was with her friends, or with an informal group and just for fun.
The trick is always going to be keeping an open mind. No fair thinking “You messed up the part I did!” Instead, you gotta think “Look how you enhanced my work.” Right??