2/15: “I hope so.”
2/16: “Everything takes time.”
2/17: “Oh, so sorry to hear that.”
2/18: “I needed that so badly.”
2/19: “I feel the exact same way.”
2/20: “Let this be your healing.”
2/21: “What were you thinking the focus should be on?”
Breathe. Here’s a run down of the third week of source text.
Twice, I focused on places where people navigated controversial political themes. One was an article discussing liberal vs. conservative ideology, and someone expressed a weak optimism that the opposition could have clear & intelligent thinking. Since I am a member of that opposition, it was a tricky sentiment to digest. The second was regarding mental illness & gun ownership. I scrolled through over 7000 comments of arguing. I finally found one woman who showed kindness & concern towards the people she interacted with. I didn’t find the right couple words to use from her in that particular comment, so I continued to scroll, looking for her interactions specifically. This has worked before: find the person who delivers the kindness, and you will find a trail of it… . Not this time though. I saw the breakdown in her exchanges, from kind to broken, angry. Her kindness really didn’t last very long. By the end, she sounded like everyone else. And the pattern, no matter the viewpoint, was the same: Your grammar! Your spelling! Have you learned critical thinking! Go back to school! Check your facts! Stop picking this apart! You didn’t answer my question! I’m an expert! If you were an expert, then! When I finally found the source text I’d use, I was almost too tired to recognize it. But there it was. And I snapped my tablet shut. Finally.
The rest of the days, I found people looking for and receiving support over painful topics: suicide, murder, depression. The online community is where they found the support they needed. One mother took to Facebook to find help for her isolated & bullied young son. Tell him he matters! Words of concern & understanding came in minute by minute, from around the country & world. An anonymous blogger writes posts about her daily goings on, and she finds connection with people who respond online on her dark days. I also found a simple exchange between Twitter friends, ones I don’t personally “know.” A little- how’ve you been, I haven’t heard from you in a while, an update with family matters, and a response.
I have found the easy places to find the voice of kindness. It’s among friends, when one voices a need and others respond, when there’s a time of crisis and people pull together resources. We gather to hold up the community we’re a part of. The places where people venture out to cross paths with opposing voices: the question is, why are they venturing out? If it’s for understanding, it will show. If it’s for grandstanding or hostility, it’s obvious and fruitless. It’s not easy to find kindness where people only gather to shout- it’s rare that a listening person even goes to those spots, so finding the kind voice takes endurance. I had wondered if it makes a difference when that voice makes an appearance in the angry places. So far, it doesn’t seem like shouting people take the time to notice.
The rhythm of looking for text & responding with artwork has gotten easier in some ways: I look look look, then find, next I make make make, then finish. I have familiar colors, shapes. I have a familiar relationship with the words and the sense of timing. Still, after being in this process for this long, I feel every day like I’m getting on the same carousel, and I’m compelled to have a different ride every time. I push myself to keep looking into the work & take it further. That’s another place the weariness has really settled in: the commitment to take it farther. Where at first I was admitting my exhaustion (over the search, the making), now I’m maybe too tired to see or talk about how tired I am. I have four more days to go.
I’ve completed days 22, 23, and 24. I’ll discuss those texts (through day 28) in “The Source Text: Week Four.”
I’ll continue posting a picture of the work the day after it’s made (that’s been my usual habit, due to the lighting I use for photographing the work). I will post the remaining blog posts (the fourth week of source text, more notes on process, etc) by early next week. This Friday (March 1st), I’m having the work professionally photographed, and I will update with those images. I hope to get a great install shot of all the work as well. I’m really looking forward to that.
The “I Will Find” project statement is here.
The “I Will Find” artwork is: