Ann-Marie L.

Tea Bag Chain Mail Armor: growing bigger and mostly obsessive

I was fortunate to see an El Anatsui show at a Boston area college a few years ago.  His work is amazing.  I wasn’t thinking of working monolithic big like that, but bigger and linked together somehow.  I was thinking about the dyed and undyed tea bags stored in my studio and started thinking I would use those somehow…  Then I realized I should have fun and play and wanted to free myself of my tendency to get too serious.  I came up with the idea of writing 10 word sentences, one word each on a sheet of small scrap paper.  I carried paper and pen around at work most of Saturday and would write when something came to me.   I wrote simple sentences like: “I feel creative when I have fun with art materials.” “I am often afraid when my expectations get too high”.  I thought of one color per sentence then breaking it all up to see what messages might be formed.  Would it still make sense, make more sense, did I even care?  Then I thought I would lay it out like a path in the snow towards the burn pile and toss it in the fire come spring!  Sounds fun! 

Well, I found myself in my studio laying out all those tea bags, up one sleepless night until 1:00am emptying the contents.  What happened and how and why did I switch gears?   I am obsessive in needing to get things accomplished, to do a good job and to have a sense of completion within myself.  Yet, I have always been more interested in process rather than product.  But somehow there is fear where experimentation and freedom once lived.  It’s as if everything is fading away and I need to hold onto something tangible.  I need to find a way to feel whole while letting go.

I moved the tea bags around for a couple of days and then decided to put them together with tiny (ugh) safety pins.  After completing one section it started to gain weight and reminded me of armor.  Then I realized I drink all this herbal tea mostly for medicinal purposes.  I ran away from fun and did something more obsessive and safe.  I think I made something to protect myself. Or, maybe I just changed my mind!?