Scenes From A Weekend With Friends and Sol LeWitt

This past long holiday weekend, I went to Albany, New York, to visit a good friend.  One of my best friends from high school, actually. She’s married now and an amazing environmentalist, who enjoys cooking and hosting. I’ve been promising her a visit to her various homes and finally made it happen.

The trip up was uneventful, but I did manage to finish reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The rest of my time with my friends, Dawn and Mert consisted of lots of good eats, a walk through downtown Albany and then the Christmas lights display in the Park across the street from their home, a trip across the border into Massachusetts to visit Mass MoCA‘s (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) exhibit on Sol LeWitt,  knitting, and movie watching.  It was the perfect weekend!

It was also the perfect way to usher in the new year. The night before, New Years Eve, I attended a concert with a good friend and didn’t get home until 2am. The concert was crowded, noisy and well, awesomely fun, but every excitement requires downtime and that’s exactly what I got. I realized during the weekend that I need more weekends like this.  I need more time to sleep in and relax. When I do this, I’m quite abuzz with creative juices. Prime example, I woke up Monday morning from a dream where my S2 Manifesto (yes, I’m creating a manifesto) was literally screaming at me; it practically completed itself in my sleep. I love when my design work comes about in that way.

As I mentioned above, part of the weekend included a visit to Mass MoCA in Massachusetts. It took us maybe 30 minutes to get there and proved to be one of the best parts of the trip.  My friends had been there several times and thought I would love to see the Sol LeWitt exhibit. They were correct.

Everything about Sol LeWitt’s art pulled me in– the colors, the simple use of lines, the sequence of patterns, the amazing amount of detail each piece clearly took, and the similarities and differences of each piece. The other bit I love about his work is that even though he created the concept, terms, and rules of and for creation he never felt that he had to be the only one to create it. In fact, he created the rules and terms so that other artists could replicate the work leaving their own mark on his work. Talk about crowdsourcing! This is the case of the exhibit itself. Sol has nothing to do with the art aside from designating the terms in which it had to be done. A variety of different artists came in to help prepare the space, draw the lines, and paint the details. Can you imagine just how profound that experience is? To know that you helped create the work of a renowned artist? To know that your hand in fact helped create a masterpiece, instead of just viewing it and thinking, “wow, what a piece!”?  In my mind, Sol is a genius!

I love when I learn something new about design and art that really rattles my bones. Picasso’s guitars exhibit last year at MoMA is a great example of this. It’s a moment where I am shaken to the core and my perspective shifts sometimes dramatically and sometimes just a small bit, but either way it is enough to cause a reevaluation of my own art and processes.

Now, I’m not saying that Sol LeWitt’s art will change my art, or the products I create, no, but it did remind me that sometimes the most stunning work is simple. Simplicity often mesmerizes and inspires and that is my goal- to mesmerize you with my craft, service, and details. To produce a finished product that makes you wonder at the amount of time it took and maybe what tools and materials I used.  Or in the case of my friends, inspires you to replicate the art to decorate your own home.

The last picture in the series below is a photo of a dinner invitation I designed and created for them for Christmas 2010. It was their first Christmas together and they wanted to invite family and friends over for a special meal. My inspiration then was a Christmas tree ornament in different shades of purple (my friend’s favorite color) with glitter and ribbon for a special effect. You can imagine my pride and surprise to find one ornament hanging from their tree.

When I designed that particular piece, I kept second guessing myself. My friend stated from the beginning that she loved what I did for their elopement and wanted to support me and therefore would let me create. She did choose the idea of an ornament like invitation, but other than that, she let me be.  Even with loving her for trusting me enough, I second guessed myself the entire time. I wondered whether I should create a pop up/three dimensional invitation. In the end, I stuck with the simple, one dimensional, two-sided invitation and embellished it as already described.

I shared all of that with you above just to say that seeing my invitation boldly displayed on their Christmas tree made me think of the incredible art of Sol LeWitt and the reality that simplicity goes a whole hell of a longer way when designing and creating than the complex, no matter how pretty it all looks.  Maybe Steve Jobs was inspired by Sol LeWitt, too?

This casual weekend was not only inspiration, it helped further usher in this idea of simplicity that I had decide to practice for 2012.  Simple is as simple does.  I’m off to a simple evening.

Those of you who are interested in visiting Mass MoCA, should definitely do so. The museum is hosting the Sol LeWitt exhibit through 2033. I’m happy-I can go see it a few more times between now and then-yay for extended planning!

More soon! Like tomorrow, soon. Hooray!

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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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