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  • Andrea Durnell

A grape?

Yep. A grape. A great big, pretty, red grape from Costco.

Hat season began about a month ago and I am busily felting new hats for Fall 2020. But, December was about applications to next fall's shows. That often requires me to explain my motivation for creating what I do.

Each year, I write and re-write new artist statements that seem suited to my current goals and accomplishments. Often, shows want artists to show some scholarly connection to link their work to a particular time period, style, or standards for certain mediums.

Today, I was working on a hat whose color combination came to me because I had a big platter of grapes on my kitchen table and the colors seemed particularly appealing. It struck me how often my inspiration for doing things is simple, mundane and spontaneous rather than meticulously planned, researched and executed. It also made me think that most often my best work has simply dawned on me, and not just in my studio, but also in the kitchen. I have the best luck when I veer off on my own rather than simply following a recipe.

The last time I strolled through the Carnegie Museum of Art reading the descriptions of paintings and sculptures, I got the giggles because I started wondering what the actual artists would have to say about some of the things written about each piece of their work. In all likelihood, some of these things were created for someone else's inspiration because they were commissions, and others might have been inspired simply by whatever materials they had on hand at the time inspiration struck. Some of the descriptions really wax philosophical and who can really say what the actual reason was for someone's "blue period"? If they were anything like me, trying to make a living using my creative assets, it might be not have happened due to a scholarly exploration of the color blue, but something far more innocent.

While nearly everything I do has a story or a reason it came to be, my actual creative process is more of a compulsion founded in a broad interest in materials and themes and might not be driven by my depth of knowledge or even my mastery of skills. I don't consider myself to be an expert, especially since there really is no such designation for anything I create. Each time my work appeals to someone, I am thrilled from head to toe that someone feels I achieved something that met their heart's desire. Would that change if my approach were more scholarly? I don't know how it could.

I was a pretty good student all through school and college, but perhaps had I been more scholarly I might have pursued that Ph.D. I thought I wanted for a period of years. But, here I am, on a creative path, hoping no one finds a trove of my hats or dolls 300 years from now and tries to make sense of why I did any of it! But perhaps they will make me sound a whole lot pithier than I actually am!

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