Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 66

I get email alerts when people comment, even on old posts. I got a comment from an anonymous:

"what's this...It's just a little piece of ceramic clay painted on. It's not living! They don't have feelings. They can't see you or hear you it's just an inanimate object."

I know this.

I know this is true about every piece of art I've ever made. Of course I think about this---what it is that I'm making. And why.

How could I do this nearly every day of my life without examining it?

I answered the comment with this: "right. A book isn't a living thing either, but words have great meaning. If you can't see this, look again."

or something to that effect. After all this time I still haven't figured out how to cut and paste within Blogger.

Likely I don't have to defend Poppets, or my other art, to you. If you're here, reading my blog, you probably already know what I'd say. But just to be clear, and to think about it 'out loud...'

A Poppet is an object created by an artist. Art is a conversation between an artist and those who view her art.

Art (and Poppet) is an idea. And ideas are very powerful.

The comment is on the post "What we know about Poppets so far." I should update this page, because in truth, I know a little more about Poppets now than I did then.

Poppets gave me a unique way to look at myself and at other human beings and, stepping way back, a look at humanity in general. They became a language for me that explained things better than I ever could without them. At least to myself.

I stand by the little fellows. My life is better because of them and I plan to continue to learn all I can about them. And to learn what they can teach me about being human. For me, they truly are a sort of language, an alphabet I can use to cipher things I can't grasp otherwise.

And, like any language, they are changing. I see this. Possibly you don't so much, because there's always a bit of a lag between where I am creatively and the art that goes to shows and into the shop. I'd like to think they're changing because I understand them better. I'd like to think they're changing because I understand being human better.

What I do know is that as an idea, Poppets are very much alive.

Now I want to know what you might say, or what you have said, to someone who wants to know what you could possibly see in this tiny little figure with two little black eyes. Or why you think they caused such a reaction from the commentor. What is it about Poppets that scares some humans?

I'm off to read with Orion. We have finished The Hobbit and are beginning tonight, The Lord of the Rings. We are two lucky humans.
Poppets tell me so. I believe them.



Christie said...

I've been wanting to share this with you, and maybe this is right time and place to do it.

Eight of my friends got this letter and a Poppet for Christmas. One of them has now started collecting them himself.

Oh, and please don't take it to mean that I'll never buy another. There will always be a reason to collect Poppets. They mean whatever we need for them to mean.

Much gratitude,

Christie (the pink-haired girl who was too choked up and awed and scared to approach you at your panel at WFC in 2009.)


December 2010

Dear Friend,

Once upon a time, I hit a serious slump in my writing. I'd had a rough couple of years and my output had plummeted. I felt like there was nothing left of me; I had nothing to say. I was just revising the same old stories over and over again, sending them out, collecting rejections, revising again. Compounding the pervasive sense of failure that this caused was the fact that I felt really alone, both in writing and in life. I was treading water creatively and emotionally, and I was getting tired.

I knew that what would make me feel better was to make something. I needed to focus on output, on creating a body of work. I wanted a carrot to dangle in front of me, a way of rewarding myself when I sent out something new. It needed to be something visual that I could look at as they accumulated and my body of work grew, something that could in some way embody the story that I was rewarding myself for.

So I started collecting Poppets, one for every story that I submitted from that point on. It became a ritual--when I was in the home stretch I would go window-shopping online, and pick the Poppet I would get when I finally finished and submitted the story. Every now and then I would cheat and buy it ahead of time, in case it might be gone when I was done--and then the little box would sit on my desk unopened until the moment I clicked Submit. Sometimes I would choose a Poppet because its design reminded me in some way of the story it was meant to represent; other times I chose one just because I liked it.

The Poppet Army grew, a constant reminder of what a loser I was NOT. I was a writer, and I had the proof in front of me--my stories, in Poppet form. They kept me buoyed, and they kept me company.

A lot has changed since then. When I made that first sale I decided to buy one of Lisa Snellings's Brain sculptures instead of a Poppet (the first submission and the sale came within a few hours of each other, so I didn't even have time to buy one to celebrate the submission!) I realized recently that I haven't bought a Poppet since.

My body of work continues to grow without them now. And more importantly, I'm not alone in this anymore: I have all of you. So I've decided that it's time to disband the Poppet Army.

I can't think of better homes for them than with my friends. Your Poppet looks up at you in wonder, and says You're a Writer! I hope that it will serve to remind you of how awesome you are, and that you are absolutely not alone.

I love you guys. Thanks so much for everything.

Happy holidays.

ravyn said...

That is wonderful! What a lovely gift to give your friends!

My first instinct reading that comment was: this person is a troll of some sort, just trying to stir up trouble. However, i know of a couple of people who don't like Poppets, so maybe that person's words are genuine.

In that case (in my opinion), with Poppets, what is there is what YOU put there. Personally, i have always found Poppets to be delicate and charming, and i love filling my house with them. i can only guess that those who fear or don't understand Poppets have fear in other parts of their lives too. Or are unwilling to be open, in their minds or their hearts, to see and hear and feel what is all around them.

As they say on Poppet Planet:


(okay time for me to go to bed now, if you like irony, heh)

Diandra said...

Some people don't see what others do. Every world is unique. Some are grayer than others.

Robert said...

I find art to be a reflection of many things, mostly a reflection of the observer. If he see's nothing in a Poppet, it's simply because there is nothing there to do the seeing.

Melissa P said...

I feel sorry for people so literally minded as the anonymous poster. Granted, everyone has different views on what constitutes art and inspiration. But the type of person who feels compelled to leave a post, anonymously or otherwise, denigrating the artist and her work on her own site, shows a lack of compassion and imagination. And those two things are what Poppets are all about.

Poppets, through our own imaginations, show us truths about ourselves and our world. They do not have the baggage our human relationships do. They do not harangue us when we are slow to grasp things. They do not deride us for our futile attempts to control the uncontrollable. Their wisdom comes stealthily and with a tinge of humor.

All this occurs, not because we are childishly hanging onto a fantasy world, but because we are old enough to know that life is an illusion and everything that aids us in understanding is valuable. Poppets and their people see the world differently. And this is a good thing.

I'm looking forward to the ways Poppets change. And to the ways we are changed along the way.

cmw said...

anonymous is wrong.

Arwenn said...

Poppets are greater than the sum of their parts.

Tempest said...

What a sad, sad person. There's a little piece of us that goes into every work of art we create, and then as they (the artwork) make their way out into the world, that piece takes on a life of its own, beyond what we imbued it with. It's the power of memory, the mystery of existence.

Susan said...

My poppets all (well, most of them)laughed when I told them about anonymous.

J.W.B. said...

Sometimes I forget there are people like that. I almost wrote a comment right away after seeing that how awful that is to say. Poppet's are clearly more than that. In that same quick moment I changed my mind. Some people are just like that I suppose. Can't stop it, maybe sometimes but I think it's rare. But I feel insanely lucky to know at least part of what the poppets are all about being how wonderfully mysterious they are.

lisa said...

Drinne has left a new comment on your post "Day 66":

There is a tyranny to the rational - if someone reached through the anonymous ether to tell you something wasn't alive it was from a place of needing to feel superior - and needing to let you know they were superior and like most bullies, showing how very, very limited their world is .

When you have decided something is true you have created a boolean result - surely there is only true or false? But many things are conditionally true. That's hard for everyone.

Poppets don't have heartbeats, they are the reflection of someone who does. Poppet is a mirror- we see our own reflections in them. All of those people have heartbeats. Poppet is a stethoscope. We can hear the echo of many heartbeats because of the shared response.

People who wonder what the deal with poppets are wonder about most art and why people might do things other than just hang out at the bar or the internet, have sex and families and earn a living. There is nothing wrong with that life if it's what you want, but wrestling with large things and exploring them through metaphor and philosophy and creation - well it's a small percentage of people that do that - even as consumers.

But inherently if you feel the need to comment on it to shut it down, you must know there is something bigger than your simple life and lifting the curtain must be scary, so you try to shit on the people who are making you aware that maybe there's more than the material.

So maybe anonymous is trying to save you/us
Maybe he/she/it thinks play and pretend are only for children and grown ups should only make money providing things like food/sex/tools

Or more likely he/she/it is bored and hates other people not being bored so much that he/she it needs to belittle people because anonymity allows scared people to strike back at things that make them hurt.

They don't know about things like S-curves and color based psychological response and a whole bunch of other art based things that make people behave in predictable patterns - that are used by marketers and social engineers and psychiatrists and instructional designers. Anonymous is surrounded by inanimate things created soley to cause him/her/it to respond. Poppet causes response - sometimes consumers of Poppet express that response in emotional terms. So did the commenter.

If Poppet didn't make them feel something - they'd just stay quiet.

It's a funny thing about art - it's interactive and a negative reaction means that the art is still meaningful - I'm fairly sure the commenter doesn't go to the Barbie Collectors website or the model army guys and post the same thing.

But I could be wrong - perhaps that anonymous hates anything that is deeper than surfaces.

So score one for Poppet, and one for Anonymous - they both caused us to react, which means we at least are alive.

Posted by Drinne to Lisa Snellings at 11:16 AM

lisa said...

This blog seems at it's best when I let you guys do the writing.

Anonymous said...

We all interact in different ways to the things around us. I adore poppets, but acknowledge that some people can't understand what I see in them, or for that matter what I see in much of the art I surround myself with. I think they are missing out and am sad for them, but who knows, maybe they think I'm missing out on other stuff. Its a circular concept and what makes the world so interesting - the differences in our perceptions and connections.
My immediate reaction when I first read this post was to go to my own LJ and do a post explaining what I see in a particular piece of work you have recently added to your Etsy store (which is stunning and if only I had some money I'd be talking to you about shipping to Australia). Some of my LJ readers will agree with what I see, some will see something different, some will see nothing at all and think my brain has been stolen by aliens and others will flick through the post saying shushu is being artsy again.

Its lovely to hear what poppets mean to the readers of this blog because art is supposed to be about a conversation isn't it? And your zombie poppets still scare me witless!

Alys Sterling said...

Well, the comment I get most when people new to poppets see one is: "Why is it looking at me like that?"

I think Anonymous is trying to convince himself it can't really be looking at him. He's feeling like he's being found wanting, and can't deal with it. He wants to ask it what it's looking at, but that makes him feel silly, so he lashes out.

Benton Warren said...

Wow that comment by anonymous brought forth some pretty deep comments. I can't say I've been thinking to deep lately. To busy trying to survive. To busy with distractions. And people. I feel like I've been walking and walking without seeing, only to look up and not know where I am or how I got here. So score another one for Poppet, and one for Lisa - they both caused me to react, which means I am at least alive.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I've shared some very precious treasures with my child over the years when it comes to reading, perhaps even more with my wife, and I couldn't agree more: you are two very lucky humans! Sharing Tolkien. The very thought of it spreads a warmth of contentment all over me.

As far as Poppets go, be they scary or comforting or anywhere in between I for one am grateful and continually amazed by how the little critters bind so many of us together all over the world. They are little examples of the power of art and creativity to join and inspire and communicate. I feel privileged to have welcomed several into my home.

They haven't done anything untoward to me yet. But I do sleep with one eye open.