In working on my latest piece, “Dreading Nostalgia,” I realised more acutely than ever that art is my occupational therapy. Now that that piece is edited, and in the process of being compressed into streamable- and high quality-formats, my chest already feels a little deflated. The wind under my sails has ebbed. The climax is over, before I’ve even presented it to the world.
As a mother I’ve learned that I need art for my emotional well-being. I’ve made it a goal to strive to always be in some stage of creation- whether it be writing, shooting, editing, or even just thinking. Otherwise, during overly long spans between projects, my mood inevitably starts to slip, without me necessarily knowing why. At the end of a long, tiring and often unpredictable day with my kids, my biggest pleasure is to eat dinner in front of the computer, and “work on my project.” In its therapeutic capacity, the product of art is much less important than the process. I’ve learned that I can work as slowly as I want, and I still derive the satisfaction of being in the midst of artistic creation, satisfaction that keeps me afloat during the mundane day.
On my last piece, “Dreading Nostalgia,” out of the three months or so it took me to conceive of it, shoot it and edit it, I spent about a month (a month of evenings, that is) on this one task: tracing the form of my son in every frame of 2 shots which amounted to about one minute of footage (all this while listening to Radiolab, Serial, and Hardcore History podcast episodes). Then I pasted this cut-out on another frame which already contained a version of my son, resulting in two “Shmaayas” in each shot. (See 1:30-2:06) Whether my little special effect was successful or not, the task was an emotional buoy for that entire period: whether at the playground with my kids, giving them baths, or changing diapers, I knew that throughout it all, I was “making art.”
If only I could say I was unconcerned with how my audience will receive my work. I hope they like it. I hope it goes viral. But if nothing else, working on it kept me happy for a good few months, and that’s not to be scoffed at.
And now, it’s time to think again.