Ephemeral Art as a Process



Ephemeral Art as a Process, originally uploaded by young@art.

Jolene and I sat down to draw together this morning, side by side. We each had a piece of paper before us, but Jolene began to draw with me on my piece of paper, copying me as I made clusters of tiny dots. She did not know how to hold her hand the way I did, on the paper, while using my fingers to pepper the dots. As a newly-turned two year-old, Jolene stood there banging the dots down. She hesitated after about ten or fifteen dots, shifting gears to begin creating a different scribble pattern: closely-knit zig-zags, all in green. She made about five of them in the middle of the page.

The colored pencils are really satisfying on a sensory level. They’re soft and the colors are beautiful and Jolene began to notice them as lovely objects, indicating which were hers and which were mine, and which were Ford’s and which one was Chas’ and so on. As soon as I had repeated what she had just told me, she had changed her mind and decided otherwise. This is very much the two year-old Jolene pattern we’ve noticed over the past few weeks.

After about fifteen minutes of scribbling together, I received a phone call and had to excuse myself. I noticed that she had taken our drawing into the other room and disappeared momentarily while I talked. When she returned, she carried our drawing in torn pieces, smiling. And then she placed them in my hand.

I don’t know what she was feeling when she did this, and as an adult I feel I need to know why she would tear our drawing, but as a teacher I understand that this is what art is, after all. It’s a process, especially for a toddler, and for all I know, the paper being torn was every bit as gratifying as the marks that were made. Or maybe she was miffed that I took the call.

Still, as her mother, I would have loved to have kept this piece intact. 🙂

six months.

To the world, you are now a girl. Once you were a baby, genderless and obscure in your characteristic cooing. Now, you are lavender and ruffles and tiny barrettes, eyelashes and sweetness. There are rolls around your thighs, three on either leg, high up, and they are beautiful and perfect and they won’t last much longer. Looking at them, squeezing them as I smile to change your diaper, brings a lump to my throat when you later sleep; when you begin to crawl, these sweet things will disappear. This whole baby self of yours, perfect and ethereal, will be replaced. Innocence gone. It is hard to burden this truth. I cry. And then I change another wet diaper and smile and start to laugh with you and move on to chunky books and teething toys and food. Sqwawking at your brothers. Grasping their hair with serious affection, drawing them close as you squeal. Seti walks in, his paws tapping the floor gets your attention, and you dart up and track him as he approaches. Laughter, squeaks! Though you cannot crawl, you can shimmy and reach, the world just beyond your fingertips.

 

Jolene

She sleeps. When she sleeps, her arms lie wide open, sprawled upon her earth. Once awake, her eyes scan the room, looking for interesting things. Shapes? Colors? Contrast?
In the early weeks, her reptilian slate eyes peered over my breasts out at the sunlit world. Now, her eyes, deep blue, scan restlessly everywhere.
She grins. She hides her grin in fists, letting shiny squints escape her wrinkled face every now and then.
In the early weeks, her fingers spread out in delicate, feminine arabesque. Newtlet fingers. Now: fists.
The moro reflex is still intact. Diaper her with a sideways glance and she’ll whack her arms back against the padded changing table.
She sucks her fists like she did when she was born. She stares at her photo and then starts cooing. She does this to her giraffe, too. And also to her reflection.
She spits up and is starting to drool.