Silence and magic

2010 work

In thinking about whether or not to even start this blog, I found myself feeling uncomfortable, agitated. Why do this? I paced. My daughter who was knitting in her bedroom and swearing at her partially knitted scarf because, it had gone awry, called me away from my momentary hesitation. I went in and saw that her scarf had indeed gone a bit off kilter. I advised her to unravel it to just the point where she had gotten it wrong. She said, but you can’t do that. Not knowing if in fact she could or couldn’t I advised her to try it. She was prepared to throw all her hard work away and just start again.

We both sat at the edge of her bed staring at the scarf, silent. Suddenly she pulled out the needles and pulled on the yarn to unravel what she had done. It was a beautiful thing to see her pull the yarn delicately and watch row upon row of knitting pull apart so easily. It felt mathematical. It could be done afterall. We both sighed in relief, and she sat back on her bed, back against her pillows, she put on Roku to Dexter, and started knitting again. Serial killers and knitting seemed to be a good combination.

The worry with writing about my work or about the things that go on inside my head or the things that affect my thinking, is that I too have the fear of unknitting. I’m afraid it will go wrong but it will be posted, out there.

However, for too long I’ve felt silenced in some way or another. Being an artist, I’ve been loathe to really talk about all the ideas that were the back story to a work of art. All of the Rube Goldburg-esque curlicues and baroque pathways that led to distilling it down to it’s essence.  That’s really the beauty of working visually, you don’t have to say it.

However, I find in talking candidly with my great love and partner, Will, that I have alot to say, not about the work directly, but with all of the peripheral thoughts and motivations that got me to make that work.

So, I will use this format to attempt to talk about the various things that I think about around the work because all the stuff around the work has another life, however it’s life is muted, and silenced.

The image in this post is of a new sculpture. It’s a detail of a larger work, but just as reproductions don’t tell the whole story, neither do whole images either.  I think cropping or highlighting an aspect of the work is an interesting way to start. This image of a mouse, made from a dinner napkin, on a thin line, a black plank, is cropped from the whole object.

So here it goes… my grandfather used to do this magic trick, after the occasional family dinner. My grandfather would push his chair back and playfully slap the napkin on his knee when all the plates had been cleared, the wine glasses moved centrally to each drinker. He’d say, while gesturing first from his left hand, then to his right, and finally quizzically and with a certain amount of dramatic pause, to his head “Nothing here, nothing here, and nothing here.” The table would grow silent. Then he’d flap the napkin in the air, and start to fold it, work with it close to his stomach. Suddenly the napkin became a mouse. The mouse hopped up his arm. He’d pull the mouse back down, pat the mouse, and again, it would jump up his arm. He’d talk to the mouse, try to calm it down, coax it to sit dutifully in his palm but up it’d jump again. We loved this trick. We loved that our grandfather was capable of magic, of transforming the end of an evening together with something playful and otherworldly. This trick has been passed down to my brother, and he now performs it at family occasions, although, all our children are too old to believe in such magic.

Maybe that’s what has been missing for so long.  A sense of magic.  That all can go terribly strange and wonderful at the same time.  Who knows?  But I am definitely finding out.

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About Sarah Seager

I am an artist that works and lives in the wilds of Los Angeles.
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