It seems fitting to start the new year with a post on the whole idea of Shards.
My work has always been strongly influenced by the idea of “shards” as a metaphor for human communication across time. A shard can be a found fragment of clay, a rusty nail, a scrap of handwriting – any little clue that becomes a “secret handshake” between the maker and the discoverer.
But sometimes the maker and the discoverer are the same person. Have you ever gone through work you’ve done earlier and found the answer to something you are doing right now? Perhaps it was a sketch, or a scrap of dyed fiber, or an unfinished collage. These are your shards, fragments of creations that were waiting for re-discovery to be put to good use in the place they had been waiting for.
Such was the case with this sculptural piece which garnered many comments when I posted it on Facebook.
I had completed the main body and really liked it, but there was something in this piece that wanted more. I envisioned him as a pilgrim coming home. He needed to be bringing something with him, but pilgrims bring only what they can carry.
I searched through my own older clay shards for answers and found four pieces that fit perfectly and answered the question of what he is carrying – he is carrying memories on his back.
The four shards I found in the “shard stash pile” fit so perfectly on the back of the pilgrim that you cannot see them from the front. One piece even has the word “Memory” on it. Who are these people carried in the pilgrim’s memories? We don’t know, but we want to.
All of this reminds us that sometimes our own burdens are not visible to the people we encounter in our face to face dealings. It is only when we take the time to look behind the facade that we can discover and empathize.
It’s amazing to me that when we look to our own work for “shards” in our past stash pile, we often find and answer to a story that is deeper than we could have imagined if we had started out all fresh and new.
Nicholas Wilton had a great quote this morning that inspired this post – it really resonated with me, especially with this earthenware piece I’d just completed.
“Even in the mess we make, there’s hope! Beautiful clues emerge, like certain colors together or how a line relates to a shape, to inform your way forward and keep you progressing. Rather than looking at others’ work, staying immersed and attentive in your art-making will provide the solutions. It’s a self-generating process that comes from within.” – Nicholas Wilton
Now go through your own stash pile this morning for clues from your earlier self that will shape and inform your work!