In recognition of Aspire Youth’s Thank-you Project, “Sketchbook Sundays” returns for this special post! Sunday has always been the day of the week of reflection for me, and yesterday – being Sunday – I reflected on the past year. “Sketchbook Sundays” was a project I started in January 2015 to help build the confidence I needed to share pages from my sketchbook. Of course I am selective when it comes to which pages I share but I am excited to share these new pages because it is the first time I am sitting down to reflect on my trip this past summer.
In this post, I will continue with the topic of ‘trusting your ideas’ from the past “Sketchbook Sundays” series. I should have defined what I meant by ‘ideas’ in the last series, but I was still developing “Sketchbook Sundays” and did not initially know where it would go. So, what do I mean by ideas? An idea, in the context of “Sketchbook Sundays”, is better described as a concept – an abstract idea which presents a relationship between two or more things. An idea can come about in response to a question for example, is there a relationship between dogs and fireworks (http://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/teen-blog/2016/dogs-and-fireworks)? What if clouds are a way to communicate with the sky (http://interaccess.org/exhibition/sky-also-map)? Afterward, there is conviction (ie. there must be a relationship between Sketchbook Sundays and developing ideas!), and a statement/argument/thesis (meditating on ideas, on Sundays – as the first day of the week – prepares our minds to subconsciously develop the idea throughout the week). What we choose to do with that idea/how we present the idea is where our creativity comes to play.
As a Maker, I create things – anything – but before I can create something, I need to have an idea. When I began what would be my last year of my undergrad, I realized that I was not able trust my
ideas in the past because I had not allowed for them to properly develop. The day before my art thesis was due, my professors looked at my project in disappointment:
“Aliya, this is not working*.”
I almost cried because I had been waiting for this magical day for seven years. Fine, I admit, I did cry. Between architecture and art, I had stayed over at the studio for three consecutive days and this magical moment was slipping through my fingers just as my sanity slipped through the sleepless nights.
While I gave up on every other academic responsibility, when my professors told me they trusted my thesis (my idea) – and that, in fact, it was the project that was not presented well – I was encouraged to try again. After working the entire night, and the day following it, I rebuilt an entirely new installation with the same idea, but presented as a better composition. I do not exactly know what magic took place that night but I can tell you that I never imagined, in these seven years, for my thesis project to be received so positively.
Generally thesis projects are a summation of your research but my thesis project was a summation of the experiments we, as students, performed in our undergrad i.e. experiments with ink, colour, video etc. I had been experimenting with the relationship between poetry and space through time-based installations; furthermore, I developed the idea that space can be read like poetry through my undergrad and I trusted it. However, it was not until the first rendition of my installation failed that I doubted space could be read like poetry. For my professors to remind me to trust my idea gave me the push I needed to work until I was successful at delivering a legible and coherent artwork. I do not think there is a ‘bad idea’ per sé but once an idea is developed I believe the way we demonstrate and materialize that idea is pivotal to its success. In other words, an idea cannot fail, it is the presentation of it that can make it seem like it failed.
Onto the sketches!
After graduation, I was gifted the opportunity to see some of the Greek and Roman art and architecture I had studied in my undergrad. Some of these sketches are clearly buildings, but most of the sketches are inspired by a concept I accidentally discovered on my journey. I call the idea ‘moving landscapes’ because most of the sketches were done on a moving ship, while I tried to capture the essence of the shores of the Greek islands. Moving landscapes is an idea, and one that needs to be developed and presented well. As I develop this idea – from this point on, the most important thing is to simply trust the idea can become something tangible. Moreover, it is essential to keep trying to find ways to present the idea in the most direct, coherent and captivating way.
If you have a concept sketch, realization, interesting idea, or theory I encourage you to trust it. Research and test the idea – can you find someone else who has researched this topic before? What relationships does your idea explore? What can you do with the idea ie. write a book, compose a poem, make art? Maybe the idea is a start to a great scientific discovery! The human intellect is extraordinary; we just have to trust our mind in order to materialize thoughts into things.
*when something does not ‘work’ in art, it means it is not successful in relaying the intended concept/idea.
*Psst*, find out what Aliya’s been up to with her ideas in her newest curated exhibition, Infinity of Intimate Space, here: http://interaccess.org/exhibition/infinity-intimate-space