On January 15, 2012, I wrote to my sister and brother, inviting them into something I’m calling the Sibling Discovery Project. To my delight, they were game.
I think it’s extraordinary that we three siblings — Norma Colman, Paul Terpening and Beth Nyland — are are all making at least part of our living from our art. I believe all three of us could thrive as full-time artists. Maybe that will happen; maybe it won’t. Along the way, we may as well learn from and inspire one another. Plus, our family has been shifting and taking new shape, particularly in the year since our mother passed away. We are adult orphan artists. Though we live far apart from one another, couldn’t we embrace and understand and encourage one another in new, innovative ways?
Yes! Here’s how:
- Each month, each one of us creates something. We work independently, but provoked by the same prompt. To get the prompts, each of us contributed five words or phrases we’d like to explore together. I wrote them on slips of paper and put them in a bag, and each month I ask someone to pull the next prompt, which I communicate to the sibs.
- Each of us works in whatever medium we like. We need not take the “expected” path. Paul, the wood carver, might write. Norma, the textile artist, might sculpt. Beth, the writer, might take a photo. Or we might choose to stay in our usual zones. Whatever.
- We share the outcome of our creative churning in a private Facebook messaging thread. We’re not talking masterpieces here. Just first drafts or sketches or rough cuts.
- Then we meet by telephone to discuss our process. For me, this is the juicy part, and the real reason I came up with this plan in the first place. I want to know how each of us ticks. Faced with the same starting point, where do each of our creative brains go? What do we envision? What do we remember? What leaps of logic or faith do we take? And then, how do we bring our idea to light through a chosen craft?
I came to this because I want to know my sister and brother better. And I want them to know me better, too. I’m also on a memory journey. As I grieve Mom’s death, I’ve developed a growing curiosity about our family history. Not the traditional tree of marriages and births, but who we are and how we have come to the values and habits we live today. I suspect our art and our conversations will take us through some fascinating memories. I also suspect all three of us will tell remarkably different stories of the same family.
With my siblings’ permissions, I’ll share the results of the Sibling Discovery Project here. Stay tuned …