By DeAnn Desilets
Inspiration and ideas for projects can come forward at the most unlikely times. I have learned to be open to it, look for it, and run with it when it comes into my world through conversation, vision or experience. Then I try and throw it into the folds of my life and see what happens.
For example, a few months ago at my husband’s birthday party, I started talking to a friend of ours. Carly is a composer, a damn good one, and a humble one, who has won a Primetime Emmy Award for a piece she wrote.
We got to talking about how we both find it difficult to continue to create our own work for ourselves, when we use our creative juices all day for other people. We commiserated that it is harder and harder to find people to talk to about our prospective projects. Mostly though, we found that the toughest thing is to hold ourselves accountable for creating new work. Yes, you can set deadlines for yourself all day. Sticking to them however, is another beast entirely.
This inspired me to ask Carly, “Hey, would you be interested in sharing work every week to get feedback?” That question led to a very positive discussion, which eventually led to a decision to work on a project together. Neither of us has worked with the other’s art form--performance and visual arts. So we decided to approach this differently than most artistic partnerships. We would have no constraints and we would keep our imagination and creations open to interpretation on both sides. While the end goal is still to create something together, we are really making something for each other, with each new collaboration.
Every week, instead of creating an image and musical piece together, we independently construct our own ideas on a subject or mood, surprising each other. I send Carly an image I have created and she composes music that partners and accompanies the image. Then she sends me a musical score, and I create an image from how the music moves me. By trading off back and forth, we each get to see how we each interprets each other’s work in our own expressive way. In turn, this makes us both think and create in new and exciting ways. It is the most amazing and inspiring process, and I get chills every time I hear a new composition from Carly. Not just because she is really good, but also because when I listen I can see my images come to life.
Before we started creating together just a month or so ago, I was making imagery, but not consistently. Now, we are each creating a new piece almost every week! Sometimes life takes over and sometimes the brain needs more time to bring something to life, but the creative juices have been primed. I honestly have not been this productive since before graduation!
Eventually, if we create enough, we are going to show it somewhere. Perhaps we will plan a live performance and large projections. Or perhaps we will plan a more intimate setting with people walking around with personal headsets, looking through spy glass holes to see the vignette to experience it on a more intimate level. This may be a while into the future, but it is exciting to think about.
This cross-pollination of visual and performance art, is something so entirely new to me, and such a different way of thinking of things. I am pushing my directed realities and montage work, and she is working with more electronic sounds, which she has not done before. What better way to explore together in a bubble of trust and adventure, with no expectations other than to have fun and be open? How great it is to push yourself and be accountable, not just to yourself, but also to someone else. I highly recommend it. It is quite exhilarating. I’m not saying everyone needs to go out and find a composer. However, one should find someone who thinks differently and creates differently. It may be another photographer, a painter, an illustrator, a writer, a printmaker, or a sculptor.
In the end if you can’t push yourself, you can’t keep growing. Find someone you admire and really challenge yourself with them. Either in a collaborative project or just as someone you know will check in on you. You will give each other the energy needed to grow. Don’t just talk about it either. I have learned that you can’t just say you will do something. Put your words into actions no matter what you are planning creatively. Imagination is real, so bring it to life.