Enter…the Flow State

An excerpt from my artist statement and more…

Standing, looking out the window, focus on breath, the beat of the heart becomes more apparent. My internal rhythm matches the cadence of my fingers as I type.

Where one applies their thoughts, focuses their attention, receives immediate feedback, and distances themselves from the past or future is the start of the flow state—the start of the next instantiation of self.

PolaroidFlowStateChalkboard
Polaroid of artist statement shot and printed by Ray. Chalkboard announcement of the exhibitions and performance by Tilted Arc in ALN foyer.

This residency for me has been about being both on the balcony and on the dance floor with flow. From gathering and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data to making work both in and out of the flow state, I have had the opportunity to watch my ideas develop both internally and manifest into reality:

  • hearts drawn on kraft paper, thoughts captured in sketchbooks
  • testing all the materials to best approach works on paper with the least amount of experimentation
  • leveraging experimental marks of ink on scrap paper for marks on final pieces
  • exploring glyphs and writing illegible letters with energy and personal meaning
  • binding ideas together with folds, waxed linen and glue

It hasn’t always been this way.
Diane asked if I was making the work I thought I would make. No, not really.

It’s been three years since I’ve made art in a studio. Before coming to ALN, I was in DC for work. Shortly after the election, Ray and I scrambled to orchestrate the next chapter of our lives. Having shifted from the fine art and commercial world to the corporate world in the past, I knew I could and greatly needed to have an experience that would allow me to shift back to the fine art world. ALN has been a rich environment to do so.

Conversations here have their own weekly rhythms: art shares, pizza night, and T time. Here I learned of others, science, and myself.

SarahTtimePizzaNight
Sarah Gallina created an interactive Ribbon Factory, T time Takeaways bookmarks bound by a found object, Frida takes pizza making to a new level for the reception.

The final works I hung to fill the space I was provided are merely artifacts of my experience. Pieces from miniature (2″x3″) to large (3’x4′), I created 3 series: Flow, Bookmark in the Continuum, and String Theory. Because who doesn’t like to throw in a little String Theory when the topic of conversation is waning?

Bookmark in the Continuum is a term I have used for years to explain the key points in our lives that illustrate our existence. When time is compressed and our time here is viewed as just a nit over billions of years ask yourself, “What mark have I made?” It could be one big one like a discovery that contributes to humankind, or a series of them that build up to represent a full life. Nothing we do goes without impact.

Over 20 bookmarks were created these past few weeks. Most of them just passing thoughts that make up who we are. Some more profound with sustaining themes. Some weathered many storms, some found themselves bound by a found treasures, others will act as actual bookmarks—reminders of a time that has passed.

MantleBnWString
Timeline, M-Theory studies and Phenomenology, “Heartbroken”, “Current State” are all works on paper.

I had not given String theory much thought before coming here. I thought it would incomprehensible to me. But Rob made it interesting, put it into context, then habitually reminded me that nothing really new has been discovered in the past 50 years. Imagine those who have devoted their lives to a theory in which the result is essentially null. Not for me. I haven’t dedicated my life, but I did focus on the subject for several days and hope to continue to explore. My interest started with Rob’s mention of Noncommutative Geometry. I studied M-Theory and knots. I had a helluva time (that’s a mid-Western term) drawing them so I made 3-D models made of strips of paper to better understand. Phenomenology models are what they are referred to. After creating and understanding the forms of 5 of them, I had an easier time drawing all 15 of the common models found throughout String theory.

3up
Sarah interacting with M-Theory drawings illuminated by a lightbox, M-Theory drawings captured in an accordion book, Diane visiting the bookmarks that have weathered the recent upstate NY storms.

I loved the way the lines inspired me to consider them over time and through space through the making of books and other structures.

The Flow series started the moment I stepped into the studio. From the first heart drawn to the collection of data I have experienced, learned from, and harnessed the flow state. I captured qualitative data using Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Experience Sampling Method. Over the course of 25 days, I captured the following information prompted by a random alarm 3-5 times a day.

  • First thoughts
  • What were you doing? Where are you? Who are you with?
  • Are you happy?
  • How well do you feel about yourself?
  • Were you concentrating?
  • How well do you feel about what you were doing?
  • Check the Spire for streaks of quantitative data.

The Spire works by tracking breathing rhythms to determine states of calm, focus and tension. I used this information in conjunction with the qualitative data to quickly learn what help bring me into, sustain and ultimately take me out of flow. This approach helped me transition from the life I was living in DC and temper me into this new environment.

After practicing it for just 3 weeks, I feel as if my level of wisdom has nearly caught up with my physical age. Oh have I still have a ways to go!

Panarchy2
Panarchy floor diagram, wall diagram (graphite on Arches text wove) and participants engaging in the model.

Paired with Panarchy, my learnings have been magnified which I can now leverage for personal use in future circumstances. And paired with organizational change management models, this practice can be scaled to teams and organizations. It’s a way to increase self-awareness and productivity that to my knowledge is not currently being leveraged in the commercial, corporate, or government space.

PanoShow
Works completed at Arts Letters and Numbers hung in the parlor studio. Most pieces are available for purchase.

So what does all of this have to do with making art? To me, it’s putting everything into perspective, sense making and integrating the learnings from time in the studio to time in the kitchen to time with others—understanding and building relationships. This opportunity is exactly what I needed. The time, the space, and the people have shown me what I can do and how far I can take my ideas when given the opportunity.

To inquire about purchasing some of the work from the exhibition, please visit this page or email me directly. For more information about Arts Letters and Numbers, visit their website or ask a resident.

Echocardiogram
“Echocardiogram” graphite, ink, white charcoal on kraft and grey tone paper. 42″ x 49″ Marks made by following the rhythm of the heart. Unframed, $344
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