Directional Exploration by Way of Fragmentation

Graphite on paper courtesy of the digital world 

Still of day 163

The Creative Meanderings #3: Exploration, Direction, and Trying to Make Sense

the best guides are the ones that unfold alongside us

365 pieces is really a lot of art, a lot of time, and a lot of change. And somehow through this process each piece needs to be cohesive to a greater whole, the project. Just like we as individuals have to coexist with each other in our uniquenesses.

Something I’ve learned about people is that you can’t force them to thrive. You can’t tell someone to be happy or feel fulfilled, fulfillment takes effort and time and lots of growth. Something I’ve learned about art is that you can’t force it to make sense. While there is a lot of skill, practice, and discipline involved, there is also an organic sense, perhaps genuineness, that just can’t be forced.

And so, for the first quarter of the CognEYEzant project, much of the art was fairly reactive. I wanted to see and explore the art, to learn what was genuine and how to translate what I saw into something others could also see.

While sometimes the lack of “direction” in coming up with a new concept nearly every day was fairly concerning, this fluidity also led me in a very specific direction*. While I couldn’t help but wish to have a guide to adhere to, I realized, after many trials and errors and even more doubts, the best guides are the ones that unfold alongside us.

In the world of academia, a thesis resembles this guide, this direction. It’s possible that anyone who’s experienced writing, or trying to, write an academic essay knows that the thesis is this enticing and elusive dichotomy between constraint and freedom. Most of the time you should have a thesis before you begin your writing process, because sometimes it helps, but sometimes it doesn’t.

When a thesis doesn’t work, that may be because you don’t quite understand what you are trying to express. Essentially, it takes the exploration to find the direction. In his guide to literary nonfiction To Show and To Tell, Phillip Lopate, author and critic, elaborates on how to explore an idea. He writes that, 

it puts unreasonable pressure on students to ask them to generate a thesis before they have explored their thoughts on the page.”

Maybe we won’t understand or even see our direction, but with exploration, we might be able to figure out what direction we are going in. And this is where people and art are similar: we have to be open and explore each other before we come to conclusions. It’s not easy, but it works.

*Curious to know what this direction is? You’ll have to wait and see, so follow the project, and start speculating.


Creative Prompt: Make Some Sense 

  1. Set a 25-minute timer and either write or draw with no preplanned ideas of what you are creating
  2. When the timer is up, try to find a point in what you created
  3. What did you discover?
  4. Share your discovery (if you share your image via Instagram or other social media sights use the hashtag #cogneyezant)