Text with images has been brewing in my creative imagination for a long time. I want to make visual art, I’ve wanted to for years, and having worked with words for so long any visual art that incorporates words attracts me. Maybe I could do that. Touring museums I’m drawn to paintings and collages that incorporate text. Graffiti tags intrigue me, with their interlocking and mostly indecipherable letters, an alphabet more visual than textual, a signature that’s image.
It’s not that I’ve never worked on a visual level. When I was much younger I did small watercolor paintings copied from children’s books but haven’t painted since. I’ve cross-stitched samplers that I designed myself, transformed a denim skirt into a tapestry of crewel work, and knit countless sweaters, hats and mittens, creating designs with different color yarns as I go. When Emilio was younger and obsessed with animals I drew horses and cows for him, which I was able to do by carefully looking at the plastic animals he played with. If I’m at a meeting without knitting my doodling fills whatever margins are available.
But moving in to intentional visual art work as a legitimate use of my creative energy has been hard. Who am I to paint or draw or make collages? A question that makes no sense, because who am I to write poems or a memoir or a novel? Does having been published make writing more legitimate? What about all the writing I do in my journal, the novel I wrote and have never looked at since, the boxes and boxes of writing stored in my barn and my new file drawers that I’ve never tried to get published, much of it never taken past a quick first draft?
So I’m pushing the questions aside and finally giving myself permission to be visual. The transformation of my study to incorporate an art desk is well underway, and I’m not waiting for that to be done to get working.
I’ve been faithfully Grinding for over a week and each day I’ve made a collage to hold the words I’ve written. In fact, for the last two days the image has come first because I’ve been writing erasure poems, a process of crossing out words on a page of text and making a poem from what’s left. The erasure itself is part of the image.
How absorbing this is! Absorbing enough I’m not worrying about what it’s for, who am I to do it, what it means, what it is. I’m just doing it.