The Miniaturist’s Challenge

When my family and friends were conscripted to help install the artwork for my master’s thesis exhibition, they could not help but note that it would have been a kindness on my part to specialize in something a little more manageable, say, postage stamp illustration. Hanging murals of up to nine by thirty feet in dimensions is admittedly more unwieldy than mounting a bunch of tidy little framed life-sized insect portraits or installing a series of elfin sculptures made from shirt buttons and walnut shells. Alas, though I did segue into much more portable forms in later years, it was not soon enough for my loved ones’ sakes.

My verbosity is a similar burden on my circle of acquaintance, as I am not famous for knowing when to shut up any more than I am known for limiting my opinion to those who have actually asked for it. But just as I have learned to appreciate and work at smaller and less physically demanding visual media along with my enjoyment of massive and messy kinds of art, I have a fondness for smaller and less epic essays and poems, too, and have been known to craft these with similar avidity. While scale in no way guarantees quality or lack thereof in any medium I know, it is sometimes a relief to me as much as to my friendly audiences when I get my kicks by producing petite expressions of my inventive urges.Graphite drawing + text: Movements in Miniature

13 thoughts on “The Miniaturist’s Challenge

    • Unless, as I would probably have done, I made murals of the same scale as the painted/drawn ones, but as tessellations of different-colored rice! Imagine asking my “staff” to install *those*!!!! πŸ˜‰ I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be alive to tell the tale. However, art on a grain of rice, as you suggest, would not only be nicely portable but could be eaten when the exhibition ended. Double benefit!! πŸ˜€
      xo

  1. petite has never been my forte, so I, for one, enjoy all your different flavors, in every size.

    one of the biggest writing challenges I ever experienced was telling a story in only 40 characters. it bent my brain in ways I didn’t think possible, but as an exercise in brevity, it flexed my muscles.

    • Whatever gets us out of our well-worn grooves from time to time is probably a healthy practice, as long as we can return to the comfort zone in one way or another. πŸ™‚ The murals, perhaps ironically, were the result of my having been stuck in a rut of working on a smallish scale when I arrived for my grad studies, and trying to do a whole range of opposites to what I’d been accustomed to doingβ€”I’d been working pretty exclusively in black and white for a long time, so almost everything in the exhibition was full-color; all still-lifes turned into all figurative works, and so forth. Needless to say, the installation gang were muttering about why I didn’t go to the *opposite* size extreme in time for my grad show, but hey, who’s ever practical??? πŸ˜‰

  2. When I was in high school, or maybe college, I coined a motto, Brevity is a virtue, which bests Shakespeare’s (which you used as a tag) by one syllable even if lacking in wit. I see now that instead of brevity we both could have said shortness, which lops off another syllable. Better still, we could just say the word short or brief and stop.

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