Everybody learns differently.
I like a more formal learning environment, at least initially. Some people find school stifling. I totally understand that point of view, and those folks should get out as quick as a bunny. Most of high school was like that for me. But once university started, classes became a safe place to experiment, to absorb, consider, or reject the wisdom of more experienced writers and artists. Then, after the basics are down and the foundations laid, that’s the time to experiment and forge my own path.
So, when I decided to tackle an art career, I went back to school. It was a good choice for me. I played around with materials and media that I would never have thought to try. And, in some cases, ones I will never ever never touch again.
I wasn’t the oldest student in my MFA course, but I was pretty close. Most of my classmates had known they wanted to be artists for ages, and had come into the program straight from college. They knew a whole lot more about technique and media, color theory and principles of drawing than I. They probably still do.
But I was surprised by how little experience many of them had outside of art.
I came in with a strong background in literature, along with academic and creative writing (regardless of how these skills may have atrophied in the meantime). Fairly good knowledge of all of western civilization including history, religion, art history, etc. A spattering of psychology, sociology, economics, film.
On top of that was life experience gained from working (mostly horrible and oftentimes weird) jobs. From living in Japan for half a decade. Travel, foreign language, mythology, culture. Also, a weird love of research… that occasionally sends me hurtling down the time-sucking rabbit hole of the internet.
All of which informed (and continues to inform) my thought process and, eventually (hopefully) my art.
Take this rabbit. Without my experiences in Japan - not to mention the availability of some wonderful washi papers - I could never have cobbled together the porridge* of ideas, myths, fables, and concepts that infuse this piece with layers of meaning.
Japanese fables tell of a rabbit in the moon, hammering away at a pot of rice to make mochi. These are complex rabbits, representing alternately childlike innocence and bountiful child bearing.
The moon doubles down on this duality. Diana, goddess of the moon was associated with chastity as well as fertility. Shakespeare often used the moon to represent the “feminine” traits in his works - as have many writers before and since.
The moon, with its waxing and waning, reminds us of the fleeting passage of time. Of the changeability of all things. It recalls the tide, which it is said to affect. It is a symbol of light in the darkness. Then again, that light is borrowed, reflected from the sun.
To Breathe the Pale and Shining Moon orbits into the shop today.
Appropriately, Golden Week is upon us again, and so begins a (nearly) week-long national holiday. I’m not sure if I’ll be posting until afterwards. We’ll see!
*Yes, “cobbling together a porridge” is a horribly mixed metaphor. I kinda like it.