Art Making: Process Practice Patience

As the opening of the exhibition, “Hole in the Universe”, on May 27th will show, there are many ways to interpret the term “Environmental Art”. Artists from six countries are now busy preparing their works inside Kerava Art Museum. I’m outside on the grounds of the museum putting together my piece. I take environmental art as literally being in, of, and for the environment. The environment being mainly, but not exclusively, our natural surroundings.

Nature has its rules and I respect them in my art making but I’m also obliged to take risks and test limits as an artist. Therefore I’m always taking clues from my immediate surroundings. I try to embrace and engage them in the moment. To make art is to work in a fluid state of existence, even when the materials are stone.

I think of art making in terms of the “3 P’s”; process, practice and patience. The process includes people, places, things and ideas. Developing an understanding of all of the possibility and potential, and constantly updating it, is process. Practice is the repetition of skills that illustrate the underlying principles and philosophy of the work of art. Patience is what keeps the practice and process going when things don’t go as planned. Limits are discovered when surpassed. Risks invite failures. Art making without surprises is only self-imposed drudgery.

Last Monday morning, after a week of working on the Kerava piece, a large section of the highest cone collapsed all around me. It burst open in a slow motion cascade, spilling onto the lawn. More than a day’s effort melted before my eyes. The fear I had that I was building beyond the limits of the material; materialized. The good thing was that I now knew the structural limitations of my stockpile of small smooth stones. The disappointment in losing a portion of the work was soon replaced with a new energy toward the piece. The piece itself had begun to be a player in the process.