The Art/Life Dissolve︎︎︎
Introduction: Art and Life Are Intertwined

Great art and poetry are not always found in museums, galleries, and books. Some of the greatest art and poetry is very close to us, found within the actions and rhythm of our everyday lives. In the 1930s, the philosopher John Dewey wrote a book called Art as Experience. He explored how ancient civilizations like the Greek in Athens saw their everyday lives as sacred artworks. There were no museums, because art and life were not seen as separate. This is true for many other non-European cultures around the world as well.

This is an exercise that reconnects art to your daily life, inspired by Dewey. We will bring a poetic approach to mundane tasks around the house, creating an artwork by shifting how we approach that task. At the end of the exercise there will be no final “product,” no “thing” that looks like art. Your own thoughtful, poetic approach to the task is the artwork in itself. The term poetic just means that we’ll lend a sense of rhythm, purposefulness, and beauty to a task that usually wouldn’t be thought of in that way.

The Main Event: Making a Household Task into an Artwork, Just by Doing It a Little Differently
Whatever task you choose to make into an artwork, use a great amount of care, attention, and seriousness. A little bit of drama is great, too. If you’re about to do the dishes, approach it like you’re conducting a soapy symphony; if you’re watering the plants, imagine a ballet of nourishment; if you’re putting on your clothes, become a sculptor, analyzing form, texture, and color as you choose an outfit for the day.

Allow yourself to be absorbed into something that you usually don’t like doing. See if paying attention to every little detail changes how you feel about the chore. And remember that great artworks can be made within our daily lives, quiet and unseen by anyone other than ourselves. Enjoy that feeling, knowing you also are a great artist of life.

1.Choose a task (doing the dishes, watering the plants, etc.).
2.Select some tools for the job that you’ll enjoy working with (like a clean sponge fresh out of the package).
3.Pretend you are about to make a great artwork just by doing this one household task.
4.Immerse yourself in the action: pay attention to sounds, movements, and the relationships between objects.
5.Go slowly, methodically, and with a sense of purpose.
6.Pay attention to parts of your task that can be seen as oddly beautiful or rhythmic.

Here are some ideas to choose from, each takes less than ten minutes:

• Washing the dishes
• Washing fruits and vegetables
• Making the bed
• Cleaning the bathroom
• Taking out the trash
• Putting on clothes in the morning
• Taking a shower
• Organizing papers on your desk
• Getting ready for dinner/setting the table
• Watering the plants (watering the plants is extra sweet, because you’re interacting with a living being)

If you have limited mobility, this exercise can be done with a partner/facilitator. You become the director, directing a great play about the everyday, in which your facilitator is the star. If you are alone with limited mobility, you can also take this approach to any small task available to you that you normally do, such as putting on your slippers. The size and duration of the action doesn’t matter, but the poetic intention that you put toward it does.
Designed by Mollie McKinley
From: DIA