The Treatment

I was going to write about the breakdown of symbols and colours in my Rain ritual but… people are too weird. I have to share my experience of creating Bloom today. It started the same as every other day… I took my bucket of chalk and walked to a nice grassy area of the university with hexagon sidewalks. I really like this space because there is construction around it and so the normal flow of traffic is altered, and those hexagons make it easy to repeat patterns. As much as I have enjoyed working there I left feeling ambivalent with my experience. I call the piece Bloom because it just kept growing and spreading across the sidewalk. I started with one and ended with five – I quit when my wrist hurt and I was out of chalk. I had been there for an hour and a half and felt good about the work and curious about its impact. It was interesting how different people had interacted with me during that session. I started out in the corner and worked inwards. I noticed the more space I occupied the less people kept to themselves.

During the first drawing people were quiet and polite; they all walked around me. At two drawings, people would walk on the edges. Three was the turning point for some. It became an inconvenience only to women who would verbally (not to me) comment on the “curse” being put on the ground. More on that later… Men were the only ones today to stop and talk to me, asking what my work was and what I was doing. While women walked across the drawings men would do their best to go around me. I thought it was really bizarre. Even now I’m not sure what to make of it. Men were curious and polite while women walked over them and complained to each other. It reminded me of why I was doing this work and how self-absorbed people can be. The work was successfully getting attention and changing how people interacted with the space.

Now to address women and “curses”, let me start by clarifying my use of “self-absorbed”. I use this to refer to people thinking some how my work is specifically about them or their business. Yes, I am a shaman and because of that I am trying to build and establish connection but based on how people think they are the sun we go around…. The relationship with nature seems hopeless to resolve. All I could think was “As if I care about you that much…” It reminded me of how my grandmother used to tell me that no one thought about me as much as I did. It was encouraging. Don’t be self conscious, no one is think of you anyways. But if only she had been there to hear the those women.

On a super positive note! People talked to me! They usually asked the same questions about who I was and why I was doing what I was doing. There was even a cyclist who sped passed then stop and came back to interrogate me. Those conversations made me feel and think differently about my work. Their feedback helped me to understand how my work was operating for other people. I sit on the ground when I draw and the closeness prevents me from taking in everything and in my own way I become self-absorbed.

Two men stuck out in my mind. The first was an architecture student who stopped by and asked how the design effected walking patterns. It was something I had noticed but not thought much of. As we spoke I began to reconsider the configuration and line weight. I wondered how would I do this differently? The second conversation that comes to mind was a man who told me he really appreciated how I was decorating the space and working with it. As I have tried to point of the space is hexagons – geometric and lovely – and I stuck to a pattern that played with space.

I’m not sure what any of this means yet or how it’s going to impact me and my work but it was what I wanted to share today. I promise to break down the rituals etc. soon with awesome diagrams too!


2 thoughts on “The Treatment

  1. Interesting that some, even today, think about curses as the only reason to do any kind of work in public, but what do you feel when you are creating this work. Granted you are close to the ground, so connected that way, but what do you feel? What colour is the chalk? These are things which you need to notice. Granted the human traffic is there, but draw and then move away and watch, you may be surprised.


    1. Sorry for my delayed reply! In response to the question of my feelings at the time I felt excited. Making art in an open space without any cue or information about what I was doing was very exciting at the time. The chalk colours were blue, violet, green, and pink. All pastel and child-like.
      I did get to watch people interact with the space later. They often slowed down, some took pictures, but most still walked through.

      Liked by 1 person

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