Recently I was participating in Julie Jordan Scott's
Days of Passionate Writing Program. In the lesson
where "taste" was the topic, I picked up on
"I was completely refreshed when..." as the
prompt from which to write. I started thinking about
a piece of canteloupe I had enjoyed the day before and
"I am completely refreshed when I taste the luscious
juiciness of a sweet canteloupe.
Bright orange, though softer than that, in color,
The juicy one glistens with moisture as the bite size
cubes I cut
Await patiently the pricking of my fork to pluck them
hastily into my mouth.
The cold juicy delight wants to luxuriate momentarily
in my mouth,
Then scurry down my throat into my being."
I was quite pleased with what I had written. It FELT good.
A short time later I had the thought, "Why not photograph
it and share this experience with my Picture to Ponder
subscribers?" and so I got my camera and...50 plus
varieties and angles later I looked at the photos on my
computer. Even though I captured the "glistening"
in some of the shots and the color was there, the feelings
and emotions were not!
I was then transported back to a time over 35 years ago
when I went back to college to complete my bachelor's degree,
I switched from being a Sociology Major 8 years earlier
to Fine Arts Education in a different school.
The instructor I had for my first art course there said
that my art work "lacked emotion" and that I "should
drop out of school and join some local Art Guild to satisfy
my housewifely ambitions." I immediately latched on
to a letter-to-the-editor I had written in relation to a
volatile school board situation in our community.
I had written that the candidate for school president was
"doing nothing but throwing empty phrases into a burning
cauldron of hositility." "Certainly emotional
and expressing feelings," I thought. When I got home,
I grabbed a masonite board, gessoed it and started painting
fire and the cauldron. I glued on wooden matches, tore up
fitting words from the newspaper and glued them in the cauldron.
I don't recall the grade I got, if at all. I do know she
gave me a "D" for the course as she gave me the
"counsel" cited earlier.
Months later I came to the realization that what my montage/collage
had done was illustrate the emotion I was attempting to
convey. The emotion was in the words I had written and not
in the resulting picture. This was an interesting revelation
for me because I did not then, nor much now, consciously
respond to the emotion in others' pictures or words, not
always in my own either.
What I do know is that my work is expressive and does evoke
emotions in others, WHEN IT ORIGINATES FROM AN EMOTION OR
PASSION that I am FEELING when I take the photo or write
Today's canteloupe is a reflection of that. As I was writing
I could taste and feel the experience of the cold, juicy
canteloupe. The photos I took were simply an unsuccessful
attempt to replicate that.
A QUERY FOR YOU -
When you are in the depths of emotions, how do you express
yourself? For me, when I am conscious of them I go to words
and when I am out and being in the moment, it's my camera.
In the past, it's taken form in clay, jewelry and water
Again, I invite you to look at what works best for you.
Capture it. Keep it. Remember to use it , particularly when
you are in the midst of an emotional state where this form
of expression will best serve you.
As a postscript, for those who are still wondering. I did
drop out of college for a semester and then went back, feeling
I did not need to be a fine artist to be able to teach it.
I went on to complete my Master's Degree in Creative Arts
Education. When my teaching position was eliminated due
to decline in enrollment, both parents and teachers wrote
their letters to the editor and letters to that very same
School Board, about which I had so passionately written
8 or 9 years earlier.
Thank you for the privilege of sharing with you my writing
and my thoughts on these impactful experiences.
©2005 - Sheila Finkelstein
To hear me reading this ARTICLE, click on the arrow button
below. The double bars in the center will pause the recording
and the solid square on the right ends it. This particular
reading is four and a half minutes in length