acts of art 10 ~ Njideka A. Crosby


In this series of posts I am exploring the creative process, mainly in the visual arts but also in writing and music.

I research and listen to a great many artists talking about their work and what goes on in their heads and hearts as they create. I am fascinated by the wide variety of approaches but also by how similar many of those approaches are. For instance one thing I hear again and again is the idea and feeling that the work ‘knows’ what it wants to be and we need only let go of the idea that we are in control to allow fruition.

“You work until you disappear…” phillip guston

I know this completely, through aeons of experience. I understand the initiation rituals of preparation, the getting to know you period, like meeting someone new who you hope will be a friend and reveal worlds yet unseen. In this way I slowly bond with the new work as if it were a sentient being. This is often seen by non artists and more linear artists than me as absurd anthropomorphism. Well, I do what I need to do. I talk to my art which I suppose is akin to talking to myself. It’s been this way for decades and has worked for me.

My blogging community, you, are almost all creative artists in your own particular field. Does what I’ve written ring any bells in you?

I have met and read and listened to artists who approach their work completely differently than me. We have food fights and argue all night but mostly we quote Rumi and drink red wine:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.


6 thoughts on “acts of art 10 ~ Njideka A. Crosby

  1. John, this is a concept that I’ve been thinking much about lately as well – how one needs to let go and allow the work to progress a bit on its own, after the start phase . Sometimes when this happens, I look back when the work (or in my case, the “object”) is done and wonder, “How ever did it end up as this incarnation?!” Also, thank you for introducing me to the work of Njideka Crosby; what a look this video is into her creative process! I love her bag of fabrics and how it affects her work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia, thank you for your thoughtful comment. You bring up an interesting idea for me: Some art forms, such as your own I think must require more discipline and understanding of materials throughout the process. I have worked with clay and mixed media so I have a strong sense of connecting with materials and the third dimension. When I begin a painting I can let loose on a canvas, losing myself in wild invocations of the muse 😉 Later in the cycle though I slow down and do almost as much time standing back and looking as I do applying paint.
    There seems to be a similar process as one begins a project in all of these media.
    Thanks for keeping the neurons firing…

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  3. I really enjoyed being introduced to Njideka A. Crosby, and it is a bonus to find the East Los Angeles connection. I work with fabric and frequently the quilts I create bring combinations together that I know aren’t as readily pleasing in the eyes of some of my friends who follow very distinct “rules” of the color wheel, but I really enjoy the unexpected. The materials speak to me and they tell me what to do!

    Rumi and red wine are an excellent combination!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Debra. It’s a lovely surprise to hear you work with fabric. If you ever feel inclined to make a post showing some of your work I would love to see it. Colour theory and the Colour Wheel are useful tools but I have also seen the rules broken many times to excellent effect. I say, if the materials speak to you, listen…


  5. Excellent John! I totally agree that we need to get out of the way and allow things to happen naturally and ask where to from here. Listen!
    Like you I’m fascinated by the creative process and the many ways to explore and develop it.
    I do enjoy seeing someone like Njideka who has strong direction and purpose established by her history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment Robert. In my explorations I try to catch myself before getting too analytical and then before getting too WooWoo. It’s a fine balance.


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