What we don't know: Self-discovery through art by Bureau vendor Karen Hanrahan
By Karen Hanrahan
Some folks believe the way through life is to get from one milestone to another. For others, myself included, that methodology is too linear. There is more to our existence than a single straight line. As a girl, I colored outside the lines. I questioned the existence of heaven and hell. I had independent ideas about most things. My curious ways weren’t always popular. Sometimes my demeanor was more stubborn than gracious, getting my own way was a form of narrow-minded power. Those blinders humbled themselves when I matured enough to have room for others to contribute to me. I had to let go of knowing.
I found new strength and power in the many things I didn’t know. By then a large portion of my artistic life had passed me by. I might have missed out. Or I may have just not been ready. I am ready now. I have full energy for my art. I welcome how it consumes me. The compulsion to create makes sense. Both of my artistic mediums-- photography and collage-- rely heavily on pause. There is a trusting I’ve found that fuels my confidence as an artist. When I look at a piece that I have just completed, particularly in my collage work, there is a wise reveal. An inside look; a gift of shape, line and color that speaks to a moment of truth. Often my work will share with me something I didn’t know.
Teaching those around me self-reflective pause offers me the opportunity to meet others. After 16 years of facilitating workshops the process is still tried and true. Timeless, actually. A trust in the process is key, a willingness to play another, and taking the time to immerse also becomes part of doing creative subconscious collage.
In recent years I applied this technique to a journal. I collaged for a year in this fashion. The torn bits of magazine narrated love, pain, loss and courage. They told my story. Since it’s the only story I have, I like that the art reflects what I didn’t know along the way.
I am an artist. I live ever so simply for moments of light, shadows, and the color blue. I have a modest collection of glass, vintage serving dishes, eclectic silverware and art hung on my walls. I cook scratch and photograph it so that I can experiment with north window light. I steal magazines from the laundromat. I tear them apart for cool images. I get lost in time creating, editing, thinking, and seeing. I get lost in the details. When I find them, I find me, over and over. It’s an exhilaration that reminds me of my gifts, my unique perspectives, and what I want to give to others. It notates a simple yet dynamic existence. The visuals are the imprint I’ve left behind.
At this stage of my life I am recreating. I have a past full of starts, triumphs, haunts, do-overs and perseverance. Art is often not tangible. I seek to take what seems to slip through my “making” fingers and hold on. I seek to have my work become tangible and a force that I can reckon with and rely on. I don’t require a lot. A freedom to be myself, and a feeling of usefulness will do. A dollar or two in the bank account would be nice, too!
Your path, your not knowing and what you do are all a narrative. My life has been inspired often by the sharing of another’s journey. What we say and tell matters. I’d be honored to bring the visuals to who or what you are about. Lets inspire others together.
Karen Hanrahan is a vendor at The Bureau, selling prints & originals of her collage artwork. She facilitates a monthly Creative Subconscious Collage workshop and ongoing collage circle for past workshop participants. See what new insights reveal themselves during the creative process during one of her upcoming workshops at The Bureau.