Grace Smith: Do what you can do when there's nothing to be done


We were both heartbroken.  Lost from loss.  Reeling from unexpected turns of events.  We knew we had to get out of the house.   We went to a coffee shop and sat.  Silently, pretty much.  I with my coffee, she with her tea.  

One of us had the idea to make something.  It was probably me.  I have a hard time believing that there isn’t something I can do, even when there is absolutely nothing to be done.  I think I got the ball rolling with a piece of scratch paper that had printing on one side and was blank on the other.  I wrote some words down, and my daughter made a drawing.  We went on until we filled the page. 

There is a tension, an energy inherent in collaboration.  It is different every time, and between every collaborator.  The trick is to allow it, let it exist and inform what you’re making, while not getting caught up in it.   When it feels good, it’s a gift.  And even when it is…well, tense…you wind up being grateful for the intensity, the way it reminds you that you are alive. 

As we passed the paper between us working on one drawing, we were not necessarily on the same page.  Tension was there.  Energy was there.  Look past the child-like drawings and you will find two people of different generations climbing out of the void, each in their own way, yet together, by bringing something we made from it back with us.  

Maybe it is just a simple story. Maybe it is the start of a project, like a children’s book.  Maybe it is just a record of how we spent that one day.  Who knows?    What we know for sure is that making art is the one thing people can do together when nothing else can be done.

On April 24 at The Outtaspace in Berwyn IL, join us for the multi-disciplinary Haiku Milieu: Collaboration show.  20 new pieces brought to life by 30 amazing artists.  JOIN US.

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