“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Art begins with an idea and my sculpture, entitled Creative Flow, was no different. However, my sculpture was Lou Palermo’s idea rather than mine. Lou is Maryhill Museum of Art’s Director of Education and under her guidance, the Exquisite Gorge II planning committee invited regional fiber artists to depict the Columbia River from the Willamette River to the Snake River.
It took time for me to accept this invitation because creating a fiber sculpture that would withstand the outdoor elements for an entire month was daunting. In addition, the proposed size was much larger than my previous sculptures. My previous sculptures fit on top of a coffee table and measure in inches; Maryhill’s sculpture measures in feet: twelve times larger! But the idea appealed; after all, I am an artist because I love transferring ideas from the imaginary to a state of reality.
The Museum provided my sculpture’s frame: twelve pieces of wood in four- and six- foot lengths. I carried my frame into my studio and stared at the wood for a month while my mind was in constant motion. Each day and every night my thoughts revolved around this project; this part of the artistic process is always rewarding but also mentally draining.
I also realistically assessed my artistic skills, techniques and knowledge at this stage of my creative process. My desire was to visualize creative thought; how could I achieve this message given the sculpture’s parameters? An imaginary river took form in my mind’s eye. This vision allowed me to update myself on various textiles properties such as tensile strength, UV resistance, and water repellency. I realized I would probably work with ‘new’ synthetic fabrics, considering my formal textile studies occurred during the heyday of polyester gabardine.
Feeling grounded and comfortable with my thoughts, I assembled the frame for the first of many times in preparation for my second month of creative thought.
The lower frame, assembled.
Part II: river sculpting process