Naomi Gittoes’ Art Jam Session

Naomi on Art Jam @ AIAR March 11, 2014.

“We will explore art, its purpose, creation process, overcoming creative resistance, finding then releasing your artistic potential and finding your true self in the expression of your choice. Bring a weapon of choice! i.e. paper, canvas, pens, pencils, paint, charcoal, clay or playdoh, an instrument, camera, video, a singing voice, well-conditioned dancing legs or anything else unmentioned that is your “thing”. We are going to jam together! Expect everything as we explore together.”

After reading this on my inbox, I definitely attended the jam session. It was more than inviting; it was an opportunity and it just felt right to me. I knew I belonged there. Besides, I had attended the previous open salons for the first group of very creative artists after the Residence opened its 2014 programme, including a very impressive final vernissage at the Akumal Ecology Center (CEA) facilities. As I arrived, Naomi was in the backyard patio. We met. She was very welcoming. Kim was inside checking last minute details, exactly as you would before a play start. As people arrived, a young and a young-at-heart crowd, gathered around a long table and started jamming. With just a few questions Naomi got us deep into the water, where she holds Australian free style diving records, as we reached the stillness and instant of clarity needed to enter such a rich conversation about creating, without the distracting chitter-chatter outside. After a brief framework by Naomi, exchange happened spontaneously for all of us there, until Naomi asked of us to get our tools of the trade and just made something with them that told about our very own creation process. We were given ample time to be on our own and create. The following is my take on why I need to create, on why writing and photography call on me and ask me to carry on, touching others, with them. It came out like this. It was literally dictated to me. I heard it loud and clear:

On Art (an epiphany to creation)

Oh but, stop! Quiet. Still! For it is happening. Like dawn’s telling of sunrise, like the wind’s combing of lake water, as it fills my sail out its flapping confusion, into its journey. As a child’s birth, witnessed. Like the undeniable arrival, of a presence, that whispers to an eager ear, lent, dazzling my sight out of blindness’ daily. sweeping my feet, aloft, becoming not me, but we, possessed by the Zahir that fills it all, commanding me to tell it as it lives me through, blood that is not, gushing in my veins, echoing my very heart. It is here, now. Rendering me helpless to my light and darkness, doing its will, If only for the short breath, that a fix, lasts.”
Drawing of the author by Naomi Gittoes March 1, 2014.

Art as conversation

For Naomi, creation is a need.
I would go crazy if I did not do it” – she says to us gathered.
Creation gets materialised in an epiphany, a moment of sudden revelation or insight. She describes it like this:
I close my eyes and are guided, with my hands painting. The subject I want to talk about and how do I tell about it, are questions that are always present.”
As the work unravels, these questions get addressed and laid down and spoken for, using art – and in this case graphics expression -, as a language. A language form – that of graphics – which best enables Naomi’s expressing power compared to that written and, in which technique (learnt in art school or not) comes into play, albeit it is not as determinant as the creating and passing the message itself. But art is also a conversation beyond the artist. Art becomes all those conversations that are sparked in the viewer when the work of art itself casts its message on them watching. In doing so, the work of art carries on the conversation that saw it born. It reaches others’ senses, triggering experiences – unknown or remembered -, that become conversations within and among them, and that as they ripple out, they come to foster co-creation and new perceived realities in everyone. For these ripples to have meaning and convey the message with passion, it is a must to have moment of clarity, though. To be still, as water would be in a pond or a calm lake. Kim has managed to recreate this stillness at the Akumal International Artist Residence, clearly. Naomi has mastered stillness in the very depths of that body of water, where she can remain longest as she lets her creations ascend as a thin string of air bubbles and become afloat for all of us to be enlightened.