The Language That Only Art Can Speak

The Language That Only Art Can Speak
Artist Amy Karle
Mar. 02, 2018

The process of making art is like the process of exploring yourself. For me, it is one and the same. Making art is a process of exploring myself and the world around me, making sense of it in a way that is beyond the thinking mind… from a place of all of these stirred influences that made me into who I am… the stirred area of the collective unconscious too… when I’m creating my art, it's not just for me, and it's not just from me, it's from a place that I can only articulate through creating art, and a way for me to share this internal experience that is indescribable in any other way than through the language of art – to share it with others.

In the art-making process the past, present and future are all one, and all come through strong in my work. The work is really about presence though... in order to assimilate all of those forces into one it is about being present and letting them come though… it is not about the thinking mind and especially not about a to-do list.

The process of making art is like the process of exploring yourself: witness how past, present, future manifest into the material world. It’s about listening to ourselves, to our intuition, to nature, to the world around us, and to each other. It’s about just being... listening and observing… and balancing that with the creating and the doing.

Dress based on lungs from "Internal Collection" by Amy Karle, 2017. Photo by Amy Karle.

Exchange: Connecting With Ourselves and Each Other

As an American Arts Incubator exchange artist to Poland, I bring my practice of body-based investigation and technological experimentation to explore what it means to be human. I use technology in my process as a mirror to the self and as a mirror to who we can become. My artwork can be seen as artifacts of a speculative future because I’m thinking about how to heal and enhance the body/mind/spirit and using technology and workflows to help us get there. It’s of vital importance that I explore this in a way that can be empowering and for our best and highest good, especially when using exponential technologies that have the potential to perpetuate evolution faster than natural means, and irreversibly.

As an artist I am a provocateur,
it is my own questions being reflected into my work.

Feast of Eternity by Amy Karle, 2016. Photo by Amy Karle.

As an exchange artist to Poland, I will share my personal stories and experiences, personally, and professionally. I’ll share what goes into my work and how I make my work, including methodologies of how I explore personal and universal stories of what it means to be human as the basis for creating meaningful and cutting-edge work in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math). I’ll share how I collaborate, how I get people excited about my work and working together, how I work across and with other disciplines, and how to develop proposals, document, speak about and share work. I will offer a workshop and guide group projects to build skills and connections through investigations of past, present, and future. Personal stories will be the basis for participants to create projects that acknowledge and/or enable them to break through barriers ingrained in cultural norms. I look forward to working alongside my Polish counterparts participating in the workshop.

Most of all I’ll be listening. Listening to the people, listening to the participants and listening to the area. It’s not just about what we can communicate verbally. There are life events, experiences and stories that we carry within ourselves, and show up in our identity, choices in life, health and well-being. Many of our experiences and emotions live in our body, and are not of the realm of language or thought. There are ways to access, study, communicate and understand these experiences we hold in our body and live through. Awareness, dialogue, experimentation and art making are some of those means.

I intend to make space for participants and I to create experiments that set us up to learn something about ourselves, or see ourselves in a new way and use STEAM in the process. I plan to focus on self-empowerment through opening the space and imparting tools for awareness, dialogue, experimenting, inventing, prototyping, creating and presenting STEAM related projects that function as a catalyst for self-awareness, individual expression and thus self-empowerment.

I hope to impart ways to get in touch with one's self (mind, body, emotions) and share it with others, excitement to experiment and prototype ideas, and I hope to provide insight and open minds into a way of thinking about exponential technologies and what it means to be human.

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Art, Science, Technology and What it Means to Be Human

"Regenerative Reliquary" by Amy Karle, 2016. Photo by Charlie Nordstrom.

Regenerative Reliquary, 3D printed scaffolds for stem cell culture into bone is an example of integrating past, present and future as well as the human condition, emotional states, the body, mystic agency and scientific, medical and technological rigor all in one piece. “Regenerative Reliquary” embraces the mystery of life, religion/spirituality and life/death in a singular piece while making advancements in science, medicine and technology. It is not so much to speak to a single facet but to be a unified holistic model, communicating fundamental questions of what it means to be human and combining disciplines to open minds to future visions of who we are, and who we could become.

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Why Poland?

I was distinctly drawn to Poland because of the Polish people, their strength of character and unyielding spirit, as well as a softness and love that many carry inside. I feel there was something that I carry with me in my upbringing and my view of the world that I can relate to in Polish society, connect with and offer.

I grew up Catholic by heritage in an Italian American family in Endicott, NY, a small town largely comprised of European immigrants, including a large Polish population who came to the area because of the progressive policies of Endicott-Johnson Shoe Corporation. Women and immigrants were welcome to work there, and the company-sponsored library even had a section of books in Polish. My Grandmother and her friends were factory workers. Growing up, I visited many of my Grandmother’s Polish friends and heard stories of the “old country," witnessing their emotions and emotional style as they spoke. My extended family is Polish and I have a strong interest in learning about how contemporary Polish people relate to themselves and others, where they’re from, their view of the future and notion of present.

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Self-empowerment.

Since accepting this role of American Incubator artist to Poland with a focus on empowering women in STEAM, this assignment has had me questioning my own empowerment, when I feel empowered or disempowered... and what to do (or not do) about it. Sometimes it is about external constraints but often it is more about our internal constraints.

Much of self-empowerment is how we feel. It’s a balancing act between internal empowerment and related action (or inaction). A big part of it is centering in how we do feel, accepting that – without trying to run away – and then also considering the best case scenario of how we want to feel, the best case scenario of who we want to become – even if only in a specific situation. Sometimes that requires outward action, but often the first action starts within ourselves.

How do we access what is on the inside and present it in ways that will be received? Present it in ways that are true to ourselves and empower us – regardless of the outcome?

This non-attachment to the outcome was a foreign concept to me, and required practice – but has empowered me – this notion to do our best in a way we feel good about regardless of the outcome… and then balancing that with focusing on a desired outcome and evaluating what the outcome is. It hasn’t always been an easy practice but it has helped.

Planning this project and working with various parties has made me acutely aware of when I feel empowered and disempowered. No one can tell you how to feel or if your feelings are wrong or right – they are your feelings. However, others can hold a mirror up for you to see yourself. Do you want to look?

To speak to the heart and the mind, we have come from the heart and mind.
We can’t let success go to the head, and not let failure go to the heart.

"The Wisdom of the Heart" by Amy Karle, 2017. Made via artificial neural networking and by hand. Photo by Amy Karle.

All images © 2016, 2017, 2018 Amy Karle