Editors note: I‘ve been chewing on the concept of the creative act as one of being ‘in the moment’. All else falls away. And then I ran across this wonderful interview Richard Whittaker had with Jane Rosen in works & conversations magazine, addressing this very eloquently. Click on Janes image to go to the interview itself, which is within their website. Richard has been publishing works & conversations since the early 1990s, when he set out to explore artists’ experiences and reflections about their own art making. What came from that is a series of deeply thoughtful interviews with a wide range of artists.
So here is an excerpt from the rich conversation they had:
Richard Wittaker: (you describe).. the experiences and processes that go on in the body, and being in touch with that experience, or one might say, with the intelligence of the body.
Jane Rosen: …For me animal nature is a very important key to understanding our own nature. Watch a cat waiting for a mouse. There is an attention in his body that is extraordinary. There are no distractions, no thought about what he is going to do later or whether maybe there’s another mouse that might be bigger. The cat, is completely there. There are times when I am working where there’s a state like that. When I’m working there are times when I can hear my blood and my heartbeat in tune with the movement of the material. It’s about being in your body. I think athletes experience this, and people who are alone in nature for long periods of time—like farmers. They have a kind of intelligence. You can see them looking at you. They don’t say much. But there is an intelligence, an instinct just like the cat. I think it’s the knowledge that American Indians have, that more ancient cultures have. The Eskimos understand. For the Egyptians, art was a by-product. It wasn’t the point. It wasn’t the point! It was the by-product of an investigation.
When I am working in the studio, I come up against all these difficulties. I start. Something comes. It’s given. I look at it. My ego says, “What a good girl am I!” And then this ego goes in and takes over..
It occurs to me that in this act, this effort, that I openly engage in the possibility of becoming more alive. You have to be more alive. You become more aware of what is going on. That awareness can be felt by the viewer and they can experience that in themselves. It is rare that this fortunate event occurs. Most of the time it doesn’t. That for me is a language that can be communicated.
RW: The possibility of becoming more alive. Could you say anything more about that?
JR: Most of the time we are not able to be in that state. For instance, I’m usually more interested in watching videos or talking, and I am not really feeling fully alive. What I become very interested in—and this is why I speak about the relation between nature and culture —is how there could be a finer quality of awareness (which is given me in nature), when I’m in the face of “human nature”. How to able to be in a room with people, to be in the face of difficulties, to be in the world and to be more alive?