I am over halfway through with my trip, and I am beginning to experience a bit of travel/research burnout. It’s not that I’m tired of learning about new organizations and new methods of using the arts with communities; it’s more that I’ve been spending so much time listening/observing/learning over the last two months that I haven’t left much time for CREATING.
Indeed, isn’t the creative process the reason why I turned to this work in the first place? After spending four years outside of the art world I felt a strong need to re-engage, to create, to get my hands messy, and – apart from the first month in which I was heavily involved with EPIC International’s work – I haven’t done much of that on this trip. The tricky thing about this hop-in, hop-out form of learning is that you ultimately remain much more of an outsider than an insider, observing at a distance. It’s been wonderful to discover all these amazing organizations, but it’s time to devote a little more time to creating.
Thus, I’ve come up with a little project for myself. Being constantly on the road means that I don’t currently have a consistent community to work with – but I do have myself! As I learned from Little Women, the first rule of thumb for creating is to work from what you know. Since I can’t work with others to help them create from their own experiences (and since I think I should probably use myself as a prototype) I am going to work on developing my own story.
I’m still figuring out exactly what this will look like, but I think that I will start with an idea I learned from the Neighborhood Story Project in New Orleans: journal, regularly and frequently, until you begin to have a picture of who the key players and what the key events have been in your life. For me, however, because I am drawn to visuals and enjoy creating with my hands, I think a lot of this will take the form of collaging, visual mapping, etc, in addition to writing. Ultimately, I hope to come up with a combined visual and performance piece as a finished project: a story.
This is likely to take me quite a bit longer than the length of this trip, and I have no idea at this point how it will end up, but I’m excited to begin!