16 May 2012

Renaissance Woman; an Interdisciplinary Life

When I was  teenager I heard the term "Renaissance Man," and I determined that I would be a Renaissance woman. I guess I am a cheesy romantic fool, but nowadays the more commonly used term is "interdisciplinary artist."

Recently a friend wrote to me on facebook, “I play music every day, do a painting once a week, write once a month and do activism and scholarship sporadically.”

I was like, wow that makes so much sense! I adjusted it to suit my own goals and practice:

I will write every day, make a new song once a week, paint once a month and do activism and scholarship sporadically.

I am an interdisciplinary artist. What does that mean, you ask?

To me, interdisciplinarity implies not just work that occurs in more than one field or genre,  but moreso work that navigates the connections between those fields and genres. An interdisciplinary work emphasizes the relationship between the artist, her work, and the varied aspects of the community that is affected by that work. And as such, an interdisciplinary life exhibits a creative wanderlust that carouses between worlds and sheds light on the delightfully diverse places between.

Personally, I have never been able to limit my creative expression to any medium or genre. Whether I make a painting, write a song, design a garden, teach a workshop, or write a book or a story, the work is not defined by its discipline. In some ways I have seen this as a weakness, taking it to mean that I lacked focus or conviction in any one area. I criticized myself for being so random in my work, for refusing to commit to one specialty, audience, and style. But lately my interdisciplinarity has started to feel more like a strength, and now I am looking for a place from to work where I can best put my own unique skillset to use.

All of that being stated, I want to mention that, the more I continue to study, the more it comes back around that I am, first, a writer. When I look for the bridge between art, music and agriculture, that’s it: writing. When I look for a place to put myself in the community, considering my wide range of interests and introverted character, I see that the role I play best is that of writer. This blog has helped me to realize that I actually enjoy the process of writing, and that it does not have to be the dark, dreary event that so many of my bohemian peers and fore-writers would have you believe.

And I enjoy the writer's life. I enjoy putting myself into a million different situations, trying on as many hats as I can find, and then writing about it. Further, these last 9 weeks of intensive study and personal reflection have made it obvious to me that, regardless of the medium in which I am currently working, the primary muse behind each project is usually some sort of story. Sometimes it is a story of mine that I want to tell, but more often, there is someone or something else--a person, a creature, or a plant that I feel called to give voice to.  

Perhaps this little manifesto here is me admitting to myself that my role in all of this is as the teller, the scribe, the imaginer and re-imaginer. And the gardening? Well, everyone needs food, and exercise, and sunshine. I think that the main reason I garden is so that I may have a nice place to write/paint/create art. And I paint so to visualize what I want to write, or to illustrate something that I cannot find the words for. And I set the stories to music sometimes, so that people will be more likely to listen. 

And so it is with this new (or newly reaffirmed) reflection of myself, as human and artist, as storyteller and scribe, that I move forward. I plan to spend the rest of the year finishing writing projects. Right now I am writing a comic play about a Tortilla Machine. Next in line after that? We'll see what the muses bring forth. To be continued...

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