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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Musings: Art outside the Box: The Ressurection of the Trash and the Ugly Duckling

I've always  loved the story of the ugly duckling. It has to do with having been called ugly a great deal in my childhood. I don't think I was. I think it was simply something that the other children knew hurt. It was a common enough occurrence that at the time I took it at face value. There were no dates, no flirtations, no involved preening sessions in the mirror. Every time I tried it it became part of a cruel joke. Instead I fled into a room with a sewing machine. Now, that room ( not that particular room but rooms like it) are my studio. And I flee to that room not out of fear, but because it's a place I know I belong. Like the duckling, all I had to do is survive long enough to grow into myself. And to have a few people who were willing to support me while I did that.


How many little girls are ugly ducklings? We are brutal on our little girls. My best guess is that all of them are in dread of that decision, handed down by anyone upon them. My best guess is that if our models of beauty have to starve to be beautiful enough, no on is. Not by that yardstick. And for those who do and are, perhaps other yardsticks are equally cruel. I remember a friend of mine who was a model. She told me men thought less of her because she wasn't smart enough. Smart enough for what? Pretty enough for what? What if we valued courage, cunning and wit? Or kindness? Or compassion and a love of peace?


I had one of my quilters tell me she'd found a fish I wouldn't let her throw away in class. It was a hard study. She'd struggled very hard. The fish had a great deal of potential, past the troubles she was having creating it. My first impulse when she told me she found it was to wonder if I'd done a cruelty, in fishing the fish out of the trash.


Have I thrown away art? Well, yes. Not often. I don't finish everything if it really isn't working. I've always believed in taking something as far as it was helpful. But it was too good a fish to not let him find his way. To let him grow into who he was to be. I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear she felt that way too.


So often, something we take from the trash, something discarded, disregarded has a point and a place once we've let it grow into itself.


These fish almost hit the trash. I had made their background first and them second.  I put them in their pond and they were wrong. Not just a little wrong. Desperately wrong. They hung on my wall for weeks.
My god daughter Sarah came to visit, looked them over and said " Are we going to cut these puppies or what?" Sarah has an artist's eye and the courage of a lion. And since they were, to my mind, already trash, I said, "Why not?'
Separated, hung together, cut and rebound I loved them. They were lovely ducklings. They were very pretty swans.
So I hold on to my wings, hoping someday I will grow into them. I watch what I throw out and raid the trash with courage and abandon. And every so often, I watch a duckling grow into a swan.

1 comments:

dianedoodles said...

Ellen Anne,
this post has content which is applicable for so many. I read it and really felt the struggle of "rescue or discard".
Some days we are all little ugly ducklings....but a true friend will look at us and see a beautiful swan!

Love the fish!
Happy Wishes,
DianeL

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