Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bliss Followed

This brief entry comes to you on the heels of the 20th Orlando International Fringe Festival. What is this? In their words it is: “A 12-day-festival that is founded on the concept of offering 100% unjuried, 100% uncensored, 100% accessible theatre, music, dance, art and madness to all types and ages where 100% of the box office ticket sales go directly back to the artists within The Fringe.” In my words, it is an extremely dense conglomeration of performing and visual art which is allows artists from anywhere in the world to exchange and meld their ideas. There are over 100 different live performances within 10 venues, encompassed by two separate buildings sharing a huge outdoor space they call "The Lawn of Fabulousness" The whole thing is sublime for someone like me.

Lucky for us Orlando artists, this festival comes around once a year, allowing us to prepare works and then look forward to diving in to the madness with everyone else. This was my third year doing so, and I have determined without a doubt that the week and a half of fringe transports an artist creatively further in a short period of time than almost anything else I have experienced. The closest I have felt to this are the weekend outdoor visual arts shows. This festival, however, really allows open creativity and encompasses all the arts. Bottom line is, a real artist always come out somehow different than when she went in.

For the past three years I have submitted visual art, 2 pieces each year, the maximum allowed. Each year the art pieces I submit are chosen thoughtfully, as I believe that the energy involved in them is timely in my life and I want to make a concerted connection with the other art going on. All art shows are spiritual in a sense, and much invisible and unspoken connection happens through them. 

 <Anna McCambridge-Thomas, Director of the Visual portion of Fringe, with me.>

This year I feel so validated because for the first time I sold both of my pieces. The first piece sold, “Bliss”, pictured below, was purchased by Beth Marshall, the Producing Artistic Director of Fringe, which is a huge honor for me. I also feel that it is so incredibly appropriate that this piece sold right off the bat, as its meaning has direct connection with my life as an artist and my time commingling with the other artists at Fringe.

"Bliss", Mixed media 12" x 18", woodburning on pine, acrylic paint, wood.

The theme:
Around the same time this happened, there was a call for art at the Orlando Museum of Art for a show titled, “From Words to Works” , and they wanted pieces that were inspired by literature of any type. I began to think of my art, which then was a girl in the water in the woods in the night sky, and the story of Little Red Riding Hood came to mind. The personal journey I was going through was a kind of 'coming of age' story as well, and I thought it fit. The thinking was, what would have happened if Little Red Riding Hood had 'dawdled' and celebrated her love of the forest, by allowing herself to enjoy a swim? In my story, she was safe, because she had 'followed her bliss' in the correct way. (keep reading, explanation later.) In her perfect timing and quiet connection with the forest, the wolf didn't even hear her and fell asleep. Does she know he's there? Will there be a tragedy when she comes out? We don't know, and it isn't important. All we know is that the moment was meant to happen. The moment before chaos is perfect peace.

The title:
I chose the title “Bliss” as a play on the adage, “Ignorance is bliss”, thinking of ignorance as the innocence of the child, but also the ignorance of the wolf. Only a short while after I had chosen this title, (as usually happens) there was a happy coincidence! A good friend of mine had written an entry in his blog,” on Joseph Campbell's notion of “Following your Bliss”. Then this piece took on a whole new meaning for me. I have included the link here because it is SO WORTH LISTENING TO.... The most powerful truth I believe in this is his thinking that 'following your bliss' means that “we shouldn’t live out of obligation to arbitrary societal standards. Instead, we should follow that which brings us rapture even if we must endure great pain and rejection along the way.” This is a very personal and meaningful statement to anyone who is an artist, who has the courage to bare their heart to the world in their art. 

This year I “followed my bliss” by entering into and following through the fringe festival, allowing myself to laugh and cry and connect with all of the theatre and art and people there. It was not always easy. But I am one step closer to being who I am as an artist, and that, as the Merry Monk calls it, “That is the hero’s journey. That is the transforming monomyth. It’s a journey that requires the celebration of discipline. The greatest bliss is bliss deferred.”