The Art of The Everyday
March 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
This past week felt like a whirlwind. Although Monday was a holiday, it felt more like a Friday to me, but with no two-day weekend following. We celebrated two birthdays in the family, relished in yet another winter storm, drove out-of-state and back for my dissertation research in a record thirteen hours (sigh), and managed to complete four loads of laundry, though none were folded until this very morning. Perhaps the only thing I did not attempt to squeeze in besides a Friday night movie, was to update this blog with a new post. Though I mulled it over for some time I finally decided that since nearly everything else in life is on a massive schedule with over-dues and deadlines, I would let the posts for this blog occur more organically and in this way free myself to have one thing for which I am neither on nor behind schedule.
That said, I want to talk about the art of the everyday. How can we find beauty and curiosity in the moments that are seemingly filled with the mundane and often times routine tasks of living? What does your schedule look like, is it as edifying to your artistic sensibilities as it is in sync with your outlook calendar or smart phone? I used to think that being busy was a sign of progress, and that running from task to task, checking off my to-do list and editing out any unplanned breaks meant that I was going places…then I became a mama. Soon my schedule was not my own and all I wanted to do is sleep, eat, check my email, take a shower, wash a load of laundry or dishes, exercise, girl-talk etc., and do it all in those hurried hours of nap-time. “How can one function like this,” I wondered while peering into the bathroom mirror in search of that enterprising young woman I once knew. I figured that at this rate it would take me another six years to accomplish goals that I had previously estimated would take two. And I shuddered at the thought of surrender.
Then slowly, and I do mean slowly as I am not quite there yet, I began to see pieces of me in the everyday. The way a meal is prepared, and all the planning between store and table. The balancing act between night and day in which I dance between classic sonatas and a blues supreme. I found the pieces of me that I thought were missing because I wasn’t conquering the world as I knew it. And in thinking through these things I recalled the work of conceptual artist Rachel Perry Welty. Welty’s exhibit, Rachel Perry Welty 24/7 currently on display at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum amplifies these feelings as she elevates many everyday items such as wrong numbers on the voicemail, tweets, twist ties, recycling, and produce stickers from the depths of daily life where down trodden Mamas and Papas walk sluggishly between work and home to a place where you say, “Oh, I have one of those.” Be it a sweater she captured an image of before deciding to give it to the Goodwill, or a bright yellow and green sticker declaring the PLU code for a produce item that I too bought last week. She essentially takes what you and I and everyone else sees on a daily basis and inscribes artistic merit into it, backed by the understanding that the everyday is anything but ordinary.
So if this all seems a bit superfluous to some of you, allow me to make it plain. We are, each of us, everyday capable of creating art. In our everyday lives we carve meaning into people, places and things. Even our daily To-Do lists will one day read like 21st century artifacts for a life once lived in a very different place. So buck up, on those so-so days, those hectic days, those days when you have just about had enough. Collect your sticky notes and make a collage or at the very least breathe a sigh of relief you made it, you made art out of the everyday.