Joy Vaughan and the art of journaling: South Bristol artist Joy Vaughan currently has an intriguing show up in The Carey Gallery at Skidompha Library in Damariscotta consisting of 53 pages from her daily art journal. A number of them, as one might guess, have writing on them. One page, for instance, features a quote by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung: “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” The handwritten quote wraps itself around an artful centerpiece of largely blue geometric patterns that Vaughan cut from thin paper and attached to the page.
Another page is more spare, offering the handwritten words “new,” “virgin,” “start again,” “retrain,” “listen differently,” “quiet,” “listen,” “slowly,” “slowly listen,” and “listen slowly” arranged vertically on a white page with tiny splotches of blue watercolor paint raining down over them.
One page is simply a painting of a gold square on a white page featuring a small white square embedded in the lower left-hand corner of the larger square and the lone word “clarity.”
A page seemingly titled “Spring” – with its pale-blue grid of squares visible beneath white pastel and charcoal pencil strokes – is reminiscent of pieces from Vaughan’s “Snow Fence Paintings” exhibit that she and Newcastle artist Katharina Keoughan had on display in The Carey Gallery in early 2017.
Three pages hung together are painted in vivid blue, each featuring the word “blue” as well, forming a triptych of sorts.
A number of Vaughan’s pages, which are hung from lines of string by clothespins, offer no words at all. They are simply small abstract paintings or drawings or collages. Many are in shades of blue; some are focused on the color red.
One section of Vaughan’s show offers eight wordless pieces, though one, in pink and orange, somewhat mysteriously has the tiny capital letters “Y” and “O” lightly stamped across it.
Each piece – or in the case of the blue triptych, the three pieces taken together – can serve as a focus for meditation for the viewer as one immerses oneself in the page, as Vaughan surely did while creating each little work of art. One imagines what it might be like to greet each morning by sitting down before a single blank page and expressing oneself as perhaps a means to set the tone for the day.
Vaughan sheds light on her process in an accompanying artist statement: “I call myself an artist, but several years ago I decided to take the pressure off to show my work. I set about making daily images that didn’t have to be beautiful or profound. They could be playful, ugly, funny, sad, plaintive; they could be simple or complex. They could be anything. I had to tell myself constantly that this image was for me, no one else; it didn’t matter how it turned out. It only mattered that I was showing up and making something.
“Those ‘daily pages’ are what I am showing here. The unfinished ones are in a box along with the truly ugly ones. My hope in showing these is to inspire others to make an image – any image – and see what happens.”
Vaughan’s show runs through Wednesday, Feb. 28.
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