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Inspiration – Ephemeral Projects

Looking in the pantry for beans to cook… and thinking how amazing they are! Nutritious, of course, and inexpensive, easy to store and cook; but also beautiful, really, when you take the time to look at them. Intense colors of red, black, green, white, yellow, tan, orange; various pleasing shapes, sizes, and textures.

What I had on-hand…

I poured several kinds of beans out to look at them, and thought about them as materials for a project. That’s nothing new – many artists use them so – see some examples here.

Sliding the beans under my fingers, enjoying the texture and the way they moved, and thinking – about time and art. Really, all our art is transitory; the Sistine Chapel will be gone someday; so will the stones at Newgrange. More accessible temporary creations such as sand paintings, sand castles, ritual Buddhist mandalas, those people who use light tables, and some Native American spiritual practices can inspire endless ideas as well as philosophical musings.

And not only beans or sand – some people make amazing art using ice, leaves, grasses, mud… For example, take a look at this joyful community project that celebrated both the creation and the dissolution of their delightful work made of twigs and branches.

Ursula K. LeGuin wrote a short story (I can’t remember the title) about a people who saw art as an offering, always left open to the elements because it’s meant to be consumed. The blasphemy in the culture Le Guin imagined was to try to keep art, to preserve it.

I didn’t try to preserve this project. That was enough pondering. The swirl was un-swirled, the beans were re-sorted into separate containers, and the black-eyed peas went into the pot. On to the next thing.

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