The picture is a fruit pizza I made last week, because I’ve had mandalas on the mind.
A few months ago, I was contracted to do a performance art gig at William Martin UMC in Bedford, TX: Paint in the two morning services and facilitate a women’s art retreat in the afternoon.
At first I was supposed to do a spontaneous during-the-sermon word art piece, but about a week before the event I was told they had changed their minds and I would be painting to Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” (1984) while the choir sang. After wrestling with whether this could still be a spontaneous piece, I came the conclusion that the answer, in a three-minute nutshell, is “no.” I often say “performance art is about as spontaneous as a space shuttle mission” and it’s true.
But I am happy to oblige and I worked through about six different media/shapes/images before settling on a mandala. I even built an enormous lazy Susan (4-feet square) to accommodate it. Unfortunately, two days before the event, when I tried it out on the actual (re: expensive) enormous paper I had bought for the purpose, the result was mundane. It had no fizzle. I am a lot of things, but mundane is not one of them.
Therefore I sought a new idea, with the sigh-filled realization that there would need to be a picture OF something. And not only that, but it would have to have a reveal of some kind, a surprise or some other unexpected ending. I didn’t want to be all Jesus-y, but sometimes (like in a church service) it just seems appropriate.
I got to practice it once with the choir right before first service, which worked out fine. As I sat in the pew waiting for performance time during the service, I suddenly got an idea to make it better and the third image (the dove – which is technically the first image, but it wasn’t in my rehearsals) became a solid part of the whole. Good thing it was easy to fit that in there. Good works just seem to need threes.
Here’s the link to the time lapse video on my youtube channel
Afterward, I was still engaged for the afternoon retreat, which I was facilitating with theatrical improv warm-ups, an improv bible game, and art meditation. I think it went well, but as an introvert, I can get exhausted by people fairly quickly and although I was ready for some meditation, the improv came first on my schedule. Instead of listening to my gut instinct (the same one that added the dove into the performance piece), I followed the schedule. When we finally got to the meditation, I noticed that I had lost two people. One of them was a confirmed introvert who had been looking forward to the quiet meditation time, but she had left by the time it started (she did not tell me why – it could be that she had another engagement). I have felt guilty about it ever since. Why didn’t I follow my gut, which I so affectionately refer to as the unicorn?
I’m not big into last minute changes, I admit. I am a planner and prefer to think ahead, even if what I am planning is to let things flow. When I follow the unicorn, it generally works out. I don’t always listen – but I usually realize my lapse and regret it pretty quickly. Then I ask myself WHY do I not listen every time? Why not make the last-minute change? What’s stopping me? Fear? Sheesh.
I’ve got another performance art gig coming up October 7th. I as of yet have no idea what I’ll be doing. That’s another thing: I don’t do the same performance piece twice (I mean, I do if it’s the same day/same location, but not if there’s time in between). It’s this “Been there, done that. What’s next?” kind of attitude that I hope keeps me fresh and exciting.
To paraphrase Barbara Nicolosi: Some people think artists are a little crazy, and they might be right. But as frustrating or messy as life with an artist can be, there is one thing it never is; life with an artist is never boring.