adventures in mylar

I had an interesting experience this week. I’m giving a message on Genesis 1 on Sunday, and I had a grand vision of an illustration that would explore the imagery of light of humans reflecting God’s image to each other and the world.

It will feel like an art installation, I told myself, a massive wall of reflective mylar that will reflect the stage lights, and light up the whole room.

With the help of some friends I started to construct this wall. My hopes were high as I started to bring the idea into reality, but it was all downhill from there. The edifice looked less like a luminated, reflective wall, and more like a poorly executed 3rd grade homeroom art project.

Reflective Mylar

Ironic then, that I just received this week in the mail a new book, about making art. Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. The book is a lively written exploration of the creative process, and I came across a section that seemed as if it was written right to me and my experience this week.

The materials of art [read: “mylar”] seduce us with their potential, beckoning our fantasies. In the presence of good materials, hopes grow and possibilities multiply…

A finished piece of art is, in effect, a test of correspondence between imagination and execution… It’s altogether too seductive to approach your proposed work believing your materials to be more malleable than they really are, your ideas more compelling, your execution more refined. As Stanley Kunitz one commented, “The poem in the head is always perfect. Resistance begins when you try to convert it into language.”

What artist has not experienced the feverish euphoria of composing the perfect thumbnail sketch, only to run headlong into a stone wall trying to convert that tantalizing hint into the finished piece. The artist’s life is frustrating not because the passage is slow, but because she imagines it to be fast.

I got this book to help me think in new ways about crafting verbal art in my teaching. It ended up articulating in words I did not have what I will simply call my ‘mylar experience.’ You creative types have had this experience a million times over, I imagine. But for me it was something of a small milestone, that moment of realizing my mylar wall looked just plain tacky.

Life’s funny that way.


~ by tmackie on September 18, 2009.

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