So what is an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art? Good Question. I am an artist but I have resisted the urge and pressure to label myself. I wrote in my application to Goddard, I witness beauty in nature and music, in colour and texture and art, in myriad human faces and gestures, images, scents, kindness and laughter. Each separate element merges into the influences on my eclectic artistic output as a weaver, painter, photographer, mixed media artist, poet, writer, dancer, singer and thinker – there are no boundaries between my curiosity, bearing witness to daily life and creative inspiration.
I have occasionally referred to myself as a multidisciplinary artist feeling it was an adequate description of my artistic output. Is multidisciplinary the same as interdisciplinary? To me, Multi means many, while Inter feels more like an emotional response. An internal interpretation of an emotional response that results in an external action. At the Goddard conference in October 2011 – Making, Meaning And Context: a radical reconsideration of art’s work – participants were asked to consider What it means to pursue an art practice or identify as an artist and What is the potential for interdisciplinary practice to contribute research and knowledge production that will support daily lives, diverse ecosystems, and the expansive realm of human imagination?
In my own work, something would touch me deeply or intrigue me – and my natural response to that experience was to create an art work or word work. I recently showed a series of acrylic paintings I had completed that were inspired by the paint test strips I had driven over on a stretch of highway. Those 500 white, yellow and orange strips and lines that magically appeared over the long stretch between Toronto and Montreal never ceased to please me. And I drove over them every two weeks for 18 months! It took me three more years to interpret the pleasure into an art work and once I started I completed six canvases. At other times I have been moved to create affirmation bottles, a burden jar, to paint wee stones, collect rocks and drift wood, weave scarves, photograph people, scenery, animals, objects, decorate my house, paint furniture, write poetry, journals, news stories, letters to the editor. Or it was enough to just sit before a sunset, a sun rise, the waves on the lake, the ocean, a blade of grass. So collectively, these moments, these unrelenting urges to make beauty or a statement or a thing… is that interdisciplinary art? Am I making meaning and context for my own life? And is my work any different from any other’s work, a chef say, who creates culinary masterpieces full of flavour and colour and texture and scent? Is my artistic quest a spiritual journey? Does the work I produce reflect the transformation of my soul, byproducts of aging, childbearing, health crises, emotional turmoil, contentment, love, lust, hunger, thirst?
“For the free person final answers are a form of slavery. Learning, imagining, deliberating, choosing, making mistakes – these aren’t burdens, they’re not the cost of living; they’re signs of life itself. A human being is what he or she has learned to become.” Michael Oakeshott (1901-1990)