"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Guerilla Acts of Making

“What are you going to do with it?”

That’s a question you may have heard before. Art’s funny that way. If friends and neighbors have a frame of reference for your work, then maybe the question hasn’t come up. It’s easy to see that a framed painting is supposed to go on the wall. A blown glass object is meant to sit on a shelf behind the couch. Hand thrown ceramic tableware? Obvious. Bring on the ribs and potato salad.

But quilts can’t just be quilts. In order to be sure the audience gets it, we use a qualifier. It’s an art quilt. Hand printed lengths of fabric that took hours (and expertise) to print? Can’t be yardage. Better be art cloth. What am I going to do with it? Make a wall hanging?

Maybe I am just going to let it be. Art.

But that’s idealistic at best and escapist at the least. It’s hard to learn to work for the sake of working. We do better with deadlines. Challenges. A Call for Entries. We want our work to do something.

This is all related to thoughts on the potential of what I call guerilla acts of making. A young artist (sorry I have forgotten her name – if you know it, please add a comment below) who bought a shirt at Wal-Mart, went home and carefully disassembled it. Copied it. Sewed up a duplicate and returned her version to the store. This, a comment on mass consumption and also on sweat shops.

And how about various projects around the country where people knit to dress parking meters, fences and other bits of public and private property?

And have you seen any of the spontaneous musical events occurring all over the world? Wow. Everyone is having so much fun. I want a piece of that.

Maybe because it’s Spring in Texas. Time to lighten up. I love winter and the impulse to burrow in, go deep, create rich work. Delve into meaning. But right now, how about some fun with a purpose? Work that you don’t have to question because you know where it’s going and why you are making it!

Engage in a guerilla act of making this month. If poets and poetry lovers can strew poems on bus benches and restaurant tables, I want to make art and put it out there.

Here are my ideas:
Take a piece of art and nail it to a telephone pole. Watch from a distance. Or not. Will anyone take it? Will they be pleased and public or furtive?

Print a Tshirt and add a hang tag that says” Take me. I’m free.” Sneak it into a Stein Mart or Macy’s and leave it on the rack. Make sure you add a phone number so anyone who is curious can call you.

What about crocheting a few bugs and butterflies and then pinning them to leaves in a public garden? Consult 75 Birds, Butterflies & little beasts to knit and crochet by Lesley Stanfield (St. Martin’s Griffin 2011) for ideas.

There’s actually an advertising campaign like this happening across the country. Last summer I picked up a beautiful beach glass pendant and was happily surprised when the shop owner told me I’d chosen the one object in the gallery that was free. All I had to do was write an email to the maker and thank her.

It’s a great advertising strategy but it’s also a great way to spread a little joy around.

Joy. What a great idea.


  1. Work for the sake of working, stitched textiles as art - you said this so much better than I did in my last post. Thanks for some great ideas too.

  2. I love the idea of creative anonymity - a small group of artists here in my town put up random acts of art from time to time. Drives people crazy wanting to know "who done it".

  3. I love this, Jane. You've presented a fun challange. Hmmmm, what will I do? Who will join me?

  4. My husband makes fused glass bowls and puts them out in our front yard near the street. We have a lot of foot traffic in our area, but so far no one has taken any of them. I suspect if he put a sign saying free or please take they would disappear.