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Framing and Reframing

July 23, 2014

One of the recurring themes of my ministry internship was “framing.” I learned, observation, direct coaching, and experience how it could change the tenor of a discussion or lift a conflict out of a rut to have someone in the room ask kindly and with genuine curiosity, “What if we framed that a different way?” Or, “How could we reframe that in a positive way?”
I heard it often enough, and results were sufficiently impressive, that it has become part of my own set of stock phrases, and last fall I joked (sort of seriously) about getting a bunch of different frames and hanging them in my office, and calling it “Lyn’s Frame Shop.” After my success with the origami mobile I made a couple of months ago, I began to think, actually seriously, how I might create some sort of wall-mounted objet that would remind me, in a wordless and beautiful way, to be mindful of how I am framing my thoughts. Or more precisely, to be mindful of the thoughts that I am choosing, or allowing, to frame my feelings. I can half see it in my mind’s eye: a large frame, inset with a variety of frames in different shapes, sizes, colors, textures. At first I imagined it as something flat and still, but after my success with the origami mobile project, I wondered: could I somehow hang the frames within the larger frame, so that they could move and turn? What if the frames had glass that magnified, distorted, or reflected? I wondered how deep it would need to be to work, and whether there should or shouldn’t be one picture, or several, that one would see through the various apertures.
I realized it could be part of a series, because as I began mentally adding glass, I remembered another art project I didn’t make, because I don’t like broken glass: the Divorce Mirror, which would have been a regular mirror, but broken and the pieces reset at slight angles to the original flat surface so that one’s reflection would show up in pieces instead of whole. It would still be the viewer’s reflection but more of a cubist, Picasso sort of look, at least in my imagination. Perhaps, I thought later, with some places where instead of mirror there would be clear glass that allowed the viewer to see through the mirror to something beyond the self.
I was describing all this Art I Haven’t Made Yet to a friend in an email and had an exquisite little “Aha!” moment when it dawned on me: I don’t have to learn how to work with glass or spend hours of my life looking for frames at yard sales – I don’t have to actually make any of these things to share them, because I am a writer! I can write the picture straight from my imagination to yours, without the mess of glass shards, drilling, spray paint, or whatever it will involve if I do ever attempt to make one of these things.
I’m not ruling it out, mind you, the actual making. But don’t hold your breath, and if you want to make it the way you imagine it, or make some other thing that it makes you think of? Send me a picture, okay?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2014 11:02 pm

    You’re tempting me to make your art, you know. As if I don’t have dozens of unfinished projects up here already….

    • July 24, 2014 7:35 am

      Well, Claire, thank you! I think that was part of my goal, to tempt others to join me in creative expression of the things that fascinate or vex us. The good news is, though, you don’t actually have to make it for it to matter! I really do believe that the invisible part of the creative process, the imagining and planning and working of metaphor, is valuable even if the tools never come out, the paint stays in its tubes, the brushes never get wet, or the kiln never fires. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go ahead and start another project, or finish one that’s under way that calls to you, but… it’s not the only important part of the process.

  2. Lorna Landry permalink
    July 27, 2014 9:36 pm

    Oh good, I like “virtual projects”. I have completed a TON of them. Plus less waste and space used and no dusting needed.

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