Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Art & I Go Way Back

I was raised by artists, around artists, in a community suffused with artists. Mom, a multi-talented illustrator and writer, and Dad, a skilled orator and woodworker, believed it was best to make things by hand, whether a gift, a meal, or the house in which they raised me. As a family, we'd find art in seemingly the most mundane things - a burst pipe, beer bottle labels, the doorway of the hall closet.

Despite a creative upbringing, I was a frustrated artist, dabbling with various media but never feeling satisfied with the results. I was the kid who never wanted to claim my creations in class, comparing them to the far superior work of those around me. That is, until I met metal. We just clicked the material making sense sense to both my hands and my aesthetic.

I have heard painters describe colors flowing from their brushes, and potters seeing master pieces in lumps of clay. The first time I sparked up an acetylene torch and put heat to metal, vast and infinite possibilities opened up. That metal goes from liquid to solid in an instant, that it can be pulled and stretched with a simple hammer, that its surface color can be changed with heat and chemicals, means there is so much more to a flat piece of silver than a cursory first glance would ever indicate. Even though the silly little copper brooch I produced was far from quality work, the act of its creation felt amazing.

For me, metal is the thing that's stuck. Through years of job and relationship changes, interstate moves, and major life events, it is the one thing I always return to, continue to be thrilled by, and feel the most passion for. 17 years on, my skills are still developing and my design sense maturing. The one constant, however, is the happiness I get unpacking my Rio Grande box and holding those flat sheets, rolls of wire, lengths of tubing, those infinite possibilities, in my hands, visualizing what they will become and how much fun I'm going to have in the process.

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