Creative Play with Calder in Mind

by Barbara Martin

in Uncategorized

This is day seven of the week-long photography challenge.  For today’s photographic adventure,  I set out on a stroll through the neighborhood, enjoying the sunshine, snapping away at this and that without a specific goal in mind.  It felt like a good time to noodle around and try the photographical equivalent of doodling or playing to see what might happen.

While walking,  I thought about my visit to the Ocean County Museum of Art this morning. Their current exhibit includes a selection Alexander Calder mobiles and stabiles — mesmerizing as always. And off to the side, they are showing a quick film clip of   Calder playing with his little hand-made circus complete with delightfully tinny music.  I am thrilled to be able to point you to some footage in case you have not yet seen this incredible performance. It is at once whimsical and a mechanical  tour de force.

The reason I bring it up is that “play” is an important part of creativity: being willing and able to set aside much of what we have learned and “know” in order to make new connections and juxtapositions without the hindrance of presuppositions and rules; being willing to just see what happens.  Play is also being willing to fail, being willing to look foolish, being honest about what we find fascinating or amusing in the world.

At the same time, to produce creative work there is also  a need for a sort of tinkering, for trying things out by trial and error, and for grounding the idea with solid mechanics and skill in order to make the idea real, to bring it to life. 

This tension between imaginary and real can be a power source of energy impelling us onward, or it can become a chasm between the heart, the  mind and the hand.

Anyhoozle, I noodled and dilly dallied and puttered about and here are two photographs I took this afternoon.  First I stuck my head and shoulders into the center of a very large fern and looked UP.

tendrils of fern

red wall with fronds unrolling

For some reason I seemed to be on a “red” kick. I saw this on the sidewalk when I looked DOWN.

man hole cover in the street

Electric Power Manhole Cover

I hope you have enjoyed the challenge during the past week.  Any creative project moves along more smoothly with support from cohorts. Thank you for your encouragement and enthusiasm both here and by email and on Twitter!

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