Art: Abundance of Caution
Dear Dreamwalkers. After seeing Lisa Sheets recent artwork, I asked if she’d swing by Dreamwalks to talk with me about her collages. We had so much fun exploring her collages together. This is the first of two posts, taking a deep dive into her artform.
Can you tell us how Abundance of Caution came about?
Lisa: Abundance of Caution was the first piece that I did consciously responding to the COVID-19 issue. I started to notice as I was paying a lot of attention every day to the news, to new developments on social media etc. certain buzz phrases were becoming prevalent and over time they can start to affect our approach. For example, “social distancing” which is in itself a bit of a contradiction (!) and we have to try to wrap our brains around what that looks like . . . how every aspect of our daily life will have to change . . . until the medical community has more answers or treatments or vaccines to offer.
So Abundance of Caution came about because I was participating in a collaborative project on Instagram called “Paris Collage Collective” (website pariscollagecollective ) . The Instagram page posts a different visual “prompt” each week, and collage artists all around the world create one or more collages utilizing that particular element in their collage. Topic, size, materials are all up to the individual artists. Then at the end of the week we can all look at the Paris Collage Collective Instagram page and see the many 100s of different ways artists have found to incorporate that one element. It’s a great tool for learning, sharing and stretching our creative skills. The week I did this collage the prompt was a vintage photo of a group of men. One of them was wearing this deep sea diving suit. It instantly caused me to think about the masks that everyone is starting to sew, and wear, and personal protective equipment that medical personnel have to don in order to treat patients.
Janet: This one made me laugh at first– such a perfect image of what we were being told to do. Love the use of the hoop skirt frame (is that what it’s called- please educate me here) to create social distancing. It looks like a kind of skeletal armor. Also a spider waiting in the center of her web. The divers made me think immediately of the hazmat suits as you said. What about the woman in the bottom left corner? Where did you find her?
Lisa: I think many people call these “hoop skirts” but maybe the official name for this kind of support device for a large skirt is “crinoline”. People rarely use that word anymore. And people rarely wear them anymore! But in this day and age, we are being asked to behave as though we are all wearing one. Yes.
The shape of the crinoline does bring up many references like you mentioned. A spider web, a skeletal structure around her, it can also be experienced like a small individual prison cell…. These circular ‘bars’ separating her from others. Which I suppose was its original intent. But for the purpose of commenting on “an abundance of caution”, these figures are wearing their protective gear, be it helmets or using distancing measures. The tiny woman in the corner. I can’t remember where I found her, but I have used that image often. She is so expressive and yes, she is flanked by orchids.
The “prison cell” or isolation of social distancing is something I have heard mentioned by quite a few people recently. It is definitely a new way of living for many, and it is psychologically uncomfortable for many. I think while some may be introverts and not have a lot of need for constant social contact… many of us do function on this earth like pack animals. We like to have our pack around us and feel a part of things. Keeping separate this way, I predict, is going to have some effects on our emotional and psychological states. So we all need to keep an eye on each other, keep in touch with each other in different ways than before.
Janet: This isolation is testing all of us. It’s made me look at some new ways to connect. Things like this conversation with you rekindle my energy. Just knowing other artists are doing their art, gives me hope.
I usually say, “I’m walking with you.” Dreamwalks are familiar with that. We walk a separate path for now. But I know we go together still and that our paths will meet. I see these women walking in your next piece, Tendrils
Lisa: Tendrils is also a piece done based on a prompt from the Paris Collage Collective. The visual prompt for this week was a lovely green sprig of a plant with small leaves. In this piece I really wanted to honor/look back at the people who suffered through and succeeded through the 1918 pandemic. During those years they didn’t have the same kind of medical knowledge we have now, and they were engaged in a world war. It’s hard to imagine how hard life was for people alive during those years. So this piece focuses on seeing they did recover, they did make it through that struggle during those tough years. It reminds us that we will survive too.
Janet: Your artwork goes right to the heart, Lisa. These collages express what I’ve been feeling (and what I think many of us are feeling). The right image, the right song, can go directly past the walls I put up. And all I can do is say, “Yes. That’s it. Yes” And, “Thank you.”
Lisa: I’m really glad you invited me to do this! Great talking with you.
Stay tuned for some chats with authors and illustrators about their new books, and swing by again in May for part two with Lisa.
Until then, take care Dreamwalkers. Create. And walk well.