Over the past year I have taken what I thought was a sabbatical from my living experiments; my "performance art" if you will. Having delved so deeply into the past so as to be as close to a time traveler as is possible, I needed a break, I thought, from such intense 'art pieces' as living the life of a 1950's homemaker.
Thus, this past year was born. I quietly slipped from the computer screen with my writing and out of the kitchen. I let slide my petticoats and girdle, the pearls came off and the cookbooks began to gather a bit of dust. I took a small part time job at a cafe to be out in the world. Eat was easy to slip back into the modern world, but not so easy to let go of the past, my 'created past' and the action of living in a very determined way.
I even purchased, for very little money, an older model 'smart phone'. Though I did not use it as my actual cell phone (far too frugal from the '50's to fall for that) it was a pocket computer if you will. It had wireless capability and the cafe where I worked had free wireless, so each break time I would sit and read all the news. The daily modern news. This was another way in which I began letting the modern world wash over me.
I began to make friends as well and to really connect with the general public. It was an odd sensation at first, so many people coming at me with their digital devices, the fast paced world of modernity. I found, too, as I returned home, it was easier, on work days to cook more simply. To let the homemade set aside for my 'day off' days to retain what I had learned from the past.
It became easier to wear a modern knit dress or slacks. The curlers sat unused and unloved. My regime at the dressing table a thing of the Past, if you will excuse my pun. Now, as time marched forward, the 21st century ever enveloping me, I began to consider two things:
1. When one moves outside the home, even part time, to take a job, the job of Home, the joy of homemaking becomes a chore. I found this an odd sensation after three plus years of really seeing my home and my time there as my job.
2.And second I realized this year, into which I was well halfway, was not a return to 'reality' but in fact, simply another project year that I had not defined in writing or too the blogosphere. Yet, it was, it is, very much a project. The project of 'playing at' being a modern 21st century person.
Dressing easier and with less regard. Eating easier and with less concern. Spending a bit less frugally and turning a blind eye. Using technology in more casual ways, with less intent and purpose and more as a passive use of time; a way to 'use it up' a concept my 1955 self would never have done. I often wondered how I got done what I did do with the time I had each day and wondered how I would have even been able to schedule an hour of 'passive computer entertainment time".
All the while, the 1955 me, the 50's gal persona that had blurred in and out of my psyche over the past years, kept creeping into my field of vision. And then I began to see it wasn't a past character I had tried to play. Or even an old sense of guilt nudging at my conscious mind, but it was, in fact, a mirror. It was the reflection of who I had become and trapped, this reflection of me, often returned to me to wonder at what I was about and when, hopefully, would I return to my senses.
Part of this past year has resulted in much 'soul searching'. In wondering how can that 1955 me I become rectify themselves to the modern world without being 'of' the modern world, but successfully living 'in' it? Through fate or chance or luck or what have you, I gained some wonderful friendships over the past year. And one such friend lead me to my current plan for the coming year: The year of Art.
I often found myself comparing the 'artist me' with the 1950's me because to keep a home, really Make and Create it, is the act of an artist. And I came to realize all those years and centuries of our past sisterhood who did indeed, 'keep home' shouldn't receive our disdain or our 'holier than thou' stares of modernity thinking we have somehow got it all figured out and are so much more free and powerful then them. I remember constantly being surprised by myself in the day to day of my homemaking and thinking, "I thought this would feel more like a prison. Or I should feel more put upon or frustrated" but again and again I found, when one was allowed to BE a homemaker. To have the career (not job) of keeping and making a home, the artists world of delight and creation opened up before me.
So, as this year ends, when I find myself lucky in my new friend who has made it possible for me to have a studio and art space again, I realized there is a 'thing' a 'something' I can be, or really that I am, that takes all the passion and knowledge of my past self and aligns it in a way to dwell IN the modern world but not be OF it: That, of course is ART.
So, this year (Sept to Sept) I am going to dwell in art. It is going to receive the passion and attention my Homemaking life did. And yet, it will not be truly separate, as it will be highly colored by it. I have left the cafe. I am focused on the creation of things. And, having rented our house out for the Summer, are but only two days away from returning to our little home which will be glad to have a part of the 1955 me back.
This returning, both physically to my house after three months, and a return, in part, to what I love of the past, can find its justification in the present with the results of my little attempts at physical creation. Part of this year off lead me to take classes in Printmaking and Screen-printing and these have become the tools I use now to take my concepts and my ideas of the past, nay my very obsession with Women, The Home, and our connection to a physical realm.
I found, without any specific intent, my art in my classes was often figural almost exclusively women and often in conjunction with the home rather it was a chair, another obsession of mine, or simply dwelling in an almost illusory space outside or around a home.
So, this year is going to see a return to the things I loved of Homemaking, cooking, decorating, keeping my home and the frugality of it, as well as adjusting my past and present self to the world through creating physical art. I am lucky to have found an outlet for it in a physical building (in fact my friend and I are having an opening in two weeks of our work!) it feels more real. And so I want that part of my past self, the blog/internet world, to also be a part of it.
Now, the nuts and bolts of this coming year:
1. I am going to blog on a set schedule of Mon Wed Fri each week.
2. My goals are to create art each week that both celebrates and evaluates our role as women in the past. Our story of the Home and the domestic history that is truly our own.
3.To make sure my past skills of cooking, cleaning, sewing, thrift and frugality, and general love and passion for the past will play a part in my posts and thus my artwork. I am not sure exactly how this will pan out each week, but then again, I didn't know what to expect back when I dove head first into 1955. But I know I am a changed and better person for it and so I shall take that gusto and verve along for this ride.
4. I am going to be true to that part of the artist that is often treated as not important, the business side. I currently am lucky to have a small space to work and to hang/sell things. But, my intention shall be to build a body of work and items to be sold on this site and possibly Esty as well. To take the passion and determination of Homemaking and apply it to what should be a realistic look at the business side of one's art is going to be important to me this year. Rather or not I sell a thing the goal to make it possible to do so is one of the main tenets of this year.
If any of my old followers are interested in this new endeavor of mine, I do hope they come along for the ride. And perhaps we may pick up some new people along the way. Perhaps artists that never thought anything of the homemaker other than a slave to the home or a small town homemaker who thought of artists as bohemian n'er do wells, will meet up and see the similarity in us all. We are bound by a history of the home and domesticity, good or bad it is OUR story and I think it continues to need to be told and evaluated and cherished and rekindled into the modern world.
I hope all have a lovely day and Happy Homemaking and Happy Artmaking.
My New Main Site which is currently still a little rough is www.donnadavisart.com
I will update as we go along. This site may remain as it is with the link to the other not sure how to rectify those two together just as of yet.