Thursday, May 31

A follow-up to the previous post, in which I apologized for being a crafter, not an artist:

To practice any art no matter how well or badly is a way to make your soul grow.
So do it.
Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, May 29

Do I still hate butterflies?

Moths scare me the way spiders scare some folks. Butterflies creep me out. Why, lately, have I been making things with butterflies on them?

Note the highly specific word, "things." Crafts.  I've been making crafts.  For most of my life I haven't done crafts, and I definitely haven't done art. I sing, I write, I take pictures. I haven't done art or craft, and for years have been such a dedicated reader that I never had time to craft. (You can't craft and read at the same time.) I confess I've been scornful of many craft projects made from ugly materials with ugly results. But I now must admit to crafting. It's a step up from scrapbooking (which I also do) on the coolness scale, but many steps down from art.

But get this! The last time I shopped for supplies I went to the art store instead of the craft store, because  I didn't like the brand of gel medium I had. I have new vocabulary words like "gel medium" and I can even tell the difference between one brand and another. Makes me feel pretty cocky and arty.

I've been making a pair of collages for my sister's birthday. I used to make a lot of collages just to play with images that spoke to me. Then I got hooked on the more artistic aspects of collage.  Using paint and ink as well as illustrations and pictures. Making texture. Techniques to make complex, layered backgrounds. The thing is, I love doing it. It absolutely sings to me.

There is nothing like creating, even at my lowly level. Making craft, making art, keeps my mind focused in a creative way. It keeps me from obsessive worry, too. When I go for a walk, I think about whether the collage is done or if it needs one more butterfly. A laughable -- well, but I'm not calling it a worry, am I? It is so much better than worrying about money. I do enough of that.

Somewhere along the line, meaning got sidelined in trying to work with form, composition, and balance. I certainly never meant for that to happen. It was just more than I could manage. Hence the butterflies. They have a compact form that can be placed in the foreground for focus or in the background for balance. They are a godsend to someone like me who is trying to make something worth looking at, but is not able to make good representational art. You can find pictures of them and cut them out and put them on the collage.

Butterflies are beautiful and colorful and a potent symbol of change. They're also a cliche, and most important, they are not my personal symbol of change. The civil defense drill is my symbol of change. It goes off every month, evoking a moment of reflection on where I am in my life and what has changed, or not changed, since last time I heard it. If I were to collage it would I put two speaker horns on top of a large pole? The ultimate obscure reference.

It gives me a new respect for people who transcend cliche in art, at whatever level, and make meaning.

Wednesday, January 26

One night at the reference desk

I had an interesting night at the Reference Desk of Mighty Library last night, so I started jotting down the questions. It was a night that showcased the variety of questions we get in one of the departments of a multi-story downtown library.

- I need help with a job hunt.

- I need Immigration Forms printed. What is Immigration Form I-551? How much does it cost to apply?

- Please cancel my computer reservation.

- The computer is "acting crazy and jumping around."

- I'm trying to fill out a job application for CSL Plaza. Several tries with no luck. I finally got her to show me the envelope she was holding. CSL Plasma. Problem solved.

- Where does my color print job go?

- The new $5.00 bill doesn't work in the printer coin box. (A known and aggravating problem.)

- I need a book about Ph levels in the body.

- I'm looking for a casino gaming job at Mystic Lake.

- I need a renter's rebate credit form.

- What is a Lidoderm patch? What is Polysubstance?

- Please cancel my computer reservation.

- I don't have my library card with me, and I don't have ID, can I still get on the Internet? Sorry no. Really. Really. Really.

- Printer out of magenta toner.

- Job won't print.

- Do you have an area with special job hunting resources?

- I was on Crag's list . . . [long story.] Had closed Internet Explorer window, needed to get it back.

- Did anyone turn in a pacifier?

- Need info about personal loans and grants from the government.

- What was the name of the women's dress shop in the 1970's on the corner of 9th and Nicollet?

- Do you have environmental impact statements from 1984?

- The color is off on the 4th floor printer. Can you reprint this for me free on this floor?

- Looking for primary sources (government documents) on the Little Rock 9.

- Need career info and textbook/study info on Physical Therapy

- Help me find this book: "Danger and Survival: Choices about the bomb in the first 50 years."

- The computer is not recognizing my USB drive.

- Asked customer to take cell phone to lobby or use a quieter voice.

- Spoke to customer about cell phone voice volume again.

- Asked customer to use headphones while listening to music.

- Looking for an online fashion design school.

- Looking for an online course for MN real estate license.

- Looking for books about labor law. Actually was looking for a particular book, "State of the Union; a century of American labor."

- No library card. No ID. Sorry, can't give you your library card number without a picture ID. Really. Really. Really. Really. Really.

- Need the  phone number and any info for Springboard foundation.

- I'm looking for some books that I left out on the table last night.

- I'm looking for a phone number for Mr. L--- O--- , maybe near Crookston. His wife's name is Mary.

Meanwhile, my colleagues at the desk were handling as many questions, including several government document questions, a library tour, and question about a source for Venetian blind cordage, and a lengthy set of questions about the national debt and the Minnesota state debt.

A busy night at the library!