Monday, June 8, 2015

Word of the Week - 66

Henri Matisse making paper cut-outs.
Matisse in front of gouache-painted papers, Hôtel Régina, Nice.
Word of the Week:  INVENT

Even the most able-bodied among us has a need to adapt from time to time.  When one door closes, turn around and go the other way.  If a possibility has been exhausted, invent or discover a new option.  It is a form of mental duct tape, putting pieces together that have been rent asunder.  Making things work.

As you may already know or have just read in the photo caption link above, Henri Matisse, no longer able to paint or draw as he once had, turned to a giant pair of shears, gouache-painted papers and cut-out shapes to make art for an album called "Jazz."

From Jerry Saltz's exhibition review: "With The Cut-Outs, Matisse crosses a mystical bridge...With The Cut-Outs, all we see is the work; only process is present; process and something as close to pure beauty in all of Western art." (see article here)
Making things work, whatever the things, allows us to feel, to be, undefeated.  Having only a Plan A for any situation leaves no escape hatch.  I believe strongly that very little in our human existence has only one right answer.  We develop a vocabulary of second chances: adapt, adjust, reconsider, improvise, redefine, wing it.  Cooking offers itself as a model for such behavior.  We are greater than a mostly-bare cupboard.  We will prevail, there will be dinner and it will taste good.

It is not scientific but in my experience there is always a way.  Some way.  The molecules of the situation may have to be rearranged to create an original life form and so what?  We build new neural pathways with just this sort of problem-solving.

Grab those enormous scissors and change the shape of what it ought to be to what it CAN be.  The genius of Henri Matisse will light the way.


Kass said...

Adaptation, invention - even the words excite me.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - In my experience, adaptation is a fundamental aspect of living. Without it, we'd be stuck, an old car with a broken fan belt (do cars still have them?) by the side of a back-country road. With luck, there'd be shade. We are right to be excited. I wonder just how much success is the result of a first choice not working out. Wishing you a week of mad invention. xo

michelle ward said...

Marylinn, fabulous post and wonderful commentary on "invent". Love being reminded about Matisse and his rebirth with scissors. Your statement, "We are greater than a mostly-bare cupboard" captures the beauty of how we can make something from nothing....I truly believe that we can make more interesting work by using less. Thank you for this today!!

Cheryl said...

I have had to use my giant scissors in many aspects of my life. Today, I could have decided to not play at my art table because of a painful disease, however, I have decided to put on wrist braces, not worrying about getting paint, inks, and other mediums on them. The worst that can happen..., they will become colorful. If I can't sit at the table, I will find a tray or sturdy piece of cardboard and sit on the couch and play. I sincerely enjoyed reading the article. Thanks for the reminder that we needn't feel stuck, just find a way!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Michelle - Thank you. It is so gratifying to make something from nothing or from very little. You've shown us how time after time. My mother practiced this, which is perhaps where I learned we are not meant to be turned away from art by thinking we have too little. We have what we need. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Cheryl - It is just what we see in Matisse, the refusal to be kept from the urge, the need to make beautiful things because of physical limitations. Truly, I believe there is always a way. I don't think the paints, etc., will do any structural harm to the wrist braces and the happy exhaustion that comes from making art is worth the wiggling, the figuring out, the improvisation. Thank you. Any sense of being stuck is a temporary inconvenience. We march on. xo

Lynne Perrella said...

Marylinn -- Not sure if this is pertinent, but I recently saw the new "China Through The Looking Glass" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was thrilled by the "all -embracing" aspect of it. By starting off with the basic premise that Asian art has piqued our imaginations and fascinations for years (without any need for accurate, historic documentation.......) this lavish exhibit takes us down various rabbit holes -- and suddenly Fred Astaire and Nat King Cole have ended up in the brew. Sounds like a fantastic dream scape, right? It is! A big splashy show like this is going to get a lot of press -- and it has been interesting to read the reviews. The all-puffed-up critics who want to strut their purist views and scoff at the free-wheeling creativity afoot here. And the like-minded innovative journalists who are standing on chairs, applauding and crediting the Met with new territory. It's like you said in your post: Mix it up, make it up, keep blending and's ALL good! Thanks for your wonderful observations, as ever. Lynne

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lynne - How could it not be pertinent when it so clearly weaves together individual and collective passion, seeing beyond the obvious, recognizing those who adapt so creatively? This exhibit is, and likely will be, THE talk of the town among my closest associates for who-knows-how-long. I have not yet taken sufficient time to fling myself fully into it, rabbit hole for certain. Having been seduced my entire life by the sandalwood scent of curio shops in various Chinatowns, been equally distracted by embroidered slippers (the wearing thereof in inappropriate climates) and other irresistible delights too numerous to mention, I suspect I will be a long time returning from these visions. Thank you, and thank you for your insights, always pointing us in new directions. xo