alissa davies on play as process


As I embark on a new art project this month, I hope to hold onto some of the lessons learned while creating costumes for a Contemporary Dance Wyoming piece this past June.

One of the largest insights is to use all of the time available to me and not wait until the last minute. I stretched the production of these costumes over many months (very unlike me), and was, therefore, able to enjoy the process even more, explore different possible paths with ease, and play a great deal. The level of stress, although present at times, was manageable.

Play is another lesson, even more important than using my time wisely, because it gets to the essence of how I would like to approach my art and most aspects of life. There was one magical moment while watching the dancers in rehearsal and simultaneously piecing together the costume layers with Babs Case, an individual who exemplifies approaching life through play, when I felt like a little kid again. Playing with colors and shapes and how it all fit on a human body….I left that afternoon incredibly uplifted and excited to push the costumes further in a direction that would make them look their best under the theater lights. This is always a hard aspect of creating for me to remember, the idea of keeping art-making light and explorative. I tend to fall into these troughs of seriousness and perfectionism that leave me paralyzed for periods of time.

Finally, the idea of continually exploring the process even when a project or a piece might be in the product phase and recognizing that an artwork can always go in new directions and morph into another creation. Remaining open and curious and challenging yourself to not close doors, while acquiescing to time and having the work “done” at certain points.  That is living a creative life and when I find myself in that flow, in that groove, it is equivalent to bliss.

May we all have time, play, and curiosity in our lives!

– Alissa Davies is a painter and fiber artist in Jackson.

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