Empty Space

by gingermeekallen on May 18, 2010

There are walls, a floor, a ceiling. Windows fill one wall. The walls are different – some are brick, some are smooth. Doorways allow one to exit the space, some into another room, and one to the outside.

This space, this room, will be my gallery.

In it I will place art – some created by me, and some by other artists exploring truths through various media. And to it, people will come to experience the art and find ways to enrich their lives and preserve their own story. (Click here to learn more.)

But, for now, it’s an empty space.

I moved my studio a couple of weeks ago, and since that time I have been working with the help of many friends to transform a space into a studio and into a gallery. Because of the nature of the raw space, I have joked that had I fully processed the immensity of this task, I might have reconsidered. Each day I approach the space with an awareness of my vision for the space. I know what it can be. This vision is not about aesthetics or interior design. It’s about processes, creativity and spiritual engagement.

Empty space is a rare thing. As the idiom goes, nature abhors a vacuum. A vacuum is an attempt to defy the laws of nature and physics. As my friend Nathalie said when she and her family moved from France, where living spaces are smaller, to a typical large, suburban American, newly constructed house, “We are like the water; we fill whatever space we are in.”

So, perhaps my gallery isn’t empty at all. Or, if it is, it won’t be for long.

One evening, after a long day working in the dusty boxes, I walked from the studio area into the gallery. One of my daughters was sitting on the floor of the seemingly empty gallery. Unlike the later photo below, there were not yet any display cases or paintings or jewelry in the room at all.  The street light outside barely illuminated the sparse room. She was just there, sitting, thinking, studying the light. A quiet moment in a completely vacant room is a rare opportunity. I decided to join her.

As we sat together, in the empty space, I realized the space wasn’t empty at all. We were there, and as we talked about the future of the space, potential became palpable.







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Celebrating the Muddled Middle

by gingermeekallen on May 6, 2010

An artist friend of mine is most affectionate about what he calls the “muddled middle” of the creative process. Beginning or ending a project are not his favorite moments, and I would tend to agree.

Beginning a project is often a moment of heightened awareness of potential. Or it’s a time of being debilitated by the vastness of the options. Ending a project is either a time of celebration for the accomplishments either aesthetic, narrative or technical, or it’s a moment of sadness because a chapter is ending. Both are times of great definition and specifics. The level of abstract thought is lower and more predictable.

But, in the muddled middle, thoughts come quickly, solutions are revealed, and we are often in the presence of forces beyond ourselves. In short, it’s the fun part.

I think this is why everyone loves a studio tour! It’s fascinating to steal a glimpse into another person’s creative process. From the haphazard resting place of a tool on a bench, or the selection of books or music, or the pile of sketches on the corner of the table, we can witness traces of the magical muddled middle.

At the writing of this post, I have recently (just a few days ago) moved my studio to a new venue. It’s a very different locale from where I spent my last five years, so it’s going to take me a while to adjust to the new space – the flow, designations and processes. I am also setting it up with future students in mind, which is very different from establishing a space for solo studio work.

I am in the muddled middle of the project we call Studio Change of Venue. I began with the decision to make the change, and I will end with a grand opening and busy class schedule. But right now, it’s the middle, and it is certainly muddled. I’m not sure sometimes which way is up, and as such there is a significant amount of spinning of wheels and of my head. But, muddled though it may be, it’s the middle, and things are happening every day to bring the project to fruition.

After the new venue is a little more like a good pair of sneakers, I will create a new “studio tour” post to share here with you. (In the meantime, click here to read about my previous studio location.)

The space has a significant history both for my family and for our community. It once bustled with all the activity of newspaper production. Recently we have been renovating and preserving various aspects of the space, and I’m working to make the gallery a real destination for artisan jewelry (not just my own) and narrative art. The narrative aspect is important to me – it honors the history of the space, honors my personal background, honors my family’s role in the community, and encourages others to consider their own stories.

So, stay tuned as the paint dries and the hammers are unpacked. There will be much to tell!

(With gratitude, credit is given to Brandon M. for “muddled middle.”)





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