MARCH 5, 2020
ABOUT: MAKING ART
ABOUT: MAKING ART
AT A DISTANCE
Making art is awkward.
I write these words as I sit outside a coffee shop watching a photo shoot taking place on Melrose Avenue. There's four players: a young couple, a photographer, and a photographer assistant. The couple stands in front of a bright blue wall (in actuality the side of a building selling Casper mattresses). The photographer positions them just so. The assistant holds a giant reflector and splashes sunlight across the faces and frame.
I say that making art is awkward because everything about their photo shoot is a little awkward. The couple standing there, holding each other for a too-long period of time. The photographer, leaning in to each shot, hunched over the camera. The assistant, holding this giant sheet of gold foil and standing out of frame.
None of it looks good, to my eyes. It looks awkward and forced and strange… and yet I have no doubt that the photo which this woman is capturing is incredibly cool. I bet the Caspter-blue wall no longer looks like the side of a building painted brand colors, but instead looks blurry, bright, the color of ocean or sky. I bet that the couple themselves look wonderful, not holding each other too tight or too loose, smiling in a way that represents themselves and their bond. I bet the sun reflecting on their faces off the reflector is just perfect.
I have always found myself holding awkwardness off at a distance. Especially in regards to creative process. If I see something beautiful that I want to photograph but I feel like pulling my camera out may be an awkward thing to do? I just don't do it. If I have a good idea to write down but I'm in the middle of something and feel that my scribbling or typing may bother others awkwardly? I just don't do it.
Yet I know one thing: This photographer that I'm watching right now got the shot, and I didn't.
The photo shoot has ended now, and the four of them are all huddled together and looking at the camera's screen. They are affirming the work that they created moments ago.
I am compelled to remember that another word for awkward is, of course, 'bold'.
Let's rewrite the initial sentence and the third paragraph with the idea of boldness in mind.
Making art is bold.
I say that making art is bold because everything about the photo shoot I’m watching is a little bold. The couple boldly standing in frame, holding each other with the knowledge that what is captured will represent the way they feel about one another. The photographer, boldly embracing her tool, hunched over the camera and investing herself fully in her work. The assistant, boldly recognizing that making something 1% better is a worthwhile effort, giving her time and energy to this task!
I want to rewire my brain to see the ‘awkward’ as the ‘bold’. I want to remember that our awkward moments do not matter.