In the Struggle

North Shore MN photo by Brenna Busse
May 29, 2018

Earlier this month, I again participated in the amazing "Art as Journey" group lead by artist Elizabeth Erickson at Grand Marais Art Colony. Held in a converted church uphill from the harbor on magnificent Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota, it is an opportunity to have guided focus and explore personal art practice for four days. Usually working with the figure in clay, I decided I wanted to try something new -- to play -- with abstraction in a 2D format. Instead of play, however, I ended up with struggle. This work was new, I was inventing something new, and I couldn't see it. I had no context. The women creating around me loved them, Elizabeth saw them as landscapes. Still, I struggled. Why struggle? Isn't that a state of mind, couldn't I just "let go"? To struggle was for me a response to something that wasn't working, it felt hard, unsettling. And yet, I kept going. That is what struggle is, right? To keep trying, even though it feels hard, or hopeless or scary. Not giving up, trying another approach or idea. To be engaged, present, alive, human. I am aware that for many people in this culture, dealing with poverty, racism, ageism, illness; daily life can be a struggle. The struggle in art making may seem like an unrelated privilege, and yet, it opens us to understand struggle on many levels and hones our ability to see and respond. Below are three of the images, still working on them...