I sort of walked around for a few minutes, and eventually figured out
where I was by noticing that the bathroom was on my right, and therefore I must be at home. It was all very matter-of-fact. It happened again,
months later and in a different place, and once again I oriented myself by the bathroom. Which probably says a lot about where I spend most of my time, but that’s an essay for a different time.
I’ve written about undergoing vision therapy before (see Archive August 2011 and September 2011), and I thought that particular journey was over. I was wrong. I keep learning new things and seeing things differently and going new places. And finding that I have no idea where I am.
This reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres’ joke about her grandmother taking up walking – and now they have no idea where the hell she is. That’s me.
I knew that the vision therapy was going to affect more than just my visual acuity – it would affect the way I see the world, not just the way I see. That had already happened; you can’t change one variable in a closed system and expect the rest to keep chugging along unaffected.
I was unprepared for how it would change my art. At first, it was color. I suddenly seemed to have a greater facility for, and desire for, great glaring gobs of color. That’s weird. There’s no reason that should have happened. Vision therapy doesn’t do anything about recognizing or appreciating colors and the interplay between them. But here it was. I don’t know if I am unique in this. I do know that in the 1980’s, according to the fashion of the day, I decorated my house all in shades of white. By the early ‘90’s, I had become so color starved that I painted every room in my house a different color. And I am never going back.
Also, in the 2000’s, I went to a big exhibit of work by the late artist Andrew Wyeth, famous for his rather bleak color sense. By the
end of the exhibit, I was rushing to get through it. When I emerged from the building, slightly panicked and breathing hard, I remember thinking, “I’ve got to get away from all those god-awful browns.”
So I guess my color sense has been a developing thing, and vision therapy opened it up further. It’s not supposed to do that, but okay,
I figured I would be all about learning space, and how to depict it, and utilizing all this newfound depth perception in my pictures, creating vistas and layers and painting 3-D rooms you can practically walk into. That so didn’t happen. The twelve-year-old part of my personality (about 97% of it) rolled her eyes and said “b-o-r-i-n-g.”
But I’ve really got a groove on for texture.
Ooh, I just want to run my fingers through shag carpet and rocks and dirt and dry orzo and dreadlocks and tree bark. I’ve become a surface pervert. Pretty soon I’ll be wearing a rumpled raincoat and feeling up people’s tire treads in parking lots.
I guess I was texture-starved, too, and didn’t know it, because my lack
of depth perception had made texture, and tactility, unavailable to me. Who would anticipate that a visual deficiency could also profoundly inhibit one’s sense of surface as well?
Okay, so vision therapy, combined with my own particular pathology, united to create some unexpected results. All of this has refracted into the art that I create. I have lost all interest in creating pretty pictures – you know, the kind that actually sell? I’ve been sculpting, and creating weird three-dimensional art reminiscent of ancient artifacts, and abstract paintings with magic elements that can only be seen from certain angles. It’s been really fun. The problem is that none of this stuff is photographable. It just doesn’t translate. I can’t make it flat, and fit it into a 2-dimensional medium. It won’t squish. It doesn’t look good on film – it’s not photogenic.
It’s tactile. It wants to be touched.
I have no idea what to do with this website. Most of the new stuff looks like it was made by a completely different person, because, in a sense, it was. Not the same eyeballs. Not the same brain. Should I start over? I’ve always been committed to following the muse wherever she leads, even if it’s not a marketable place. I didn’t become an artist so I could do the same thing every day. I admire jazz singer Dianne Reeves because she’s so daring. She takes a lot of chances in her singing and in her choice of material, refusing to be limited to any genre or style. She’s willing to let you hear her taking those chances, even when they don’t work. I want to be like that. When I’m not fondling hay bales and the bottoms of cheap flip-flops.
The truth is that I don’t really know what I am interested in
artistically anymore. It’s sub-verbal. All I am doing is putting the medium in my hands and seeing where I go with it.
I guess I’ll be all right. As long as I can find the bathroom.