A year of inspiration has culminated in the creation of My Art Muse. It began with an artistic journey we call The Influence and Inspiration Project. A year-long artistic journey of two women artists, Susan Spencer and Alexis Moyer which taps into their creative process in an unusual way. What started out as a ‘fun experiment’ that the two artists undertook went on to earn them national recognition as Artist/Craftsman Extraordinaire by American Craft Week in 2017.
Coined "The Response Method" by ceramic artist Alexis Moyer and mixed media artist Susan Spencer, the project entailed an exchange of original artworks back and forth between each artist, with each exchange inspiring a new piece of art by the other. This resulted in a line of art works or an "artistic conversation" between Moyer and Spencer. Over 40 artworks were produced during the course of the year and the results of the project reached farther than either woman could have imagined.
Alexis Moyer, from The Pot Shop in Philo, CA, created ceramic sculptures that pushed her in new directions of insight and techniques. "When we began The Influence and Inspiration Project we wanted to do an experiment, to see where it would lead and what we would find. In the end, we found that by using our method of non-critical response we really grew as artists. We clarified our personal inspiration, learned more about ourselves as artists, and our work took on more meaningful content."
Susan Spencer, of The Beat Gallery in Philo, CA, found growth she did not see possible without this project. "I learned again, that to grow as an artist entails a spirit of play, and that surely will open new doors of creativity. Not every piece need be approached as a masterpiece, the journey of taking the time to try new things I would never have allowed myself before became more important than the end product. We became accountable to each other in continuing our growth and we never ran out of inspiration!"
Accountability became a key aspect of the project. By having the burden of creating a new piece switch back and forth between the two artists each was pushed to free up her creative thinking, unlock barriers, experiment and grow. “Having to respond to another's work really makes you dig down to find a way to communicate your idea, using your own methods and style of work. The other side of that is seeing what response your piece elicited from someone else. It’s much deeper than “I like that”, you really do get to see what the other person got from your work.” says Moyer.
Problem solving skills really expanded for both artists. They discovered techniques they could use to get unstuck when the piece that came to them was less than inspiring on first viewing. It really makes you realize that you can find inspiration from the most unlikely places. “It was an interesting process to see that when one of us struggled on a piece the other’s response piece seemed to make a huge leap in artist growth. Certainly not what either of us would have predicted would happen,” says Spencer. Along the way avenues for new work opened up for both artists and they each took opportunities to expand on pieces from the series.
The benefits of the project seemed like something that other artists could use as well so the two women started ‘My Art Muse’ where they share accountability tips and techniques that anyone can use in their studio practice whether they have a working partner or not. It is a place for conversations and interactions that will benefit everyone who participates.
“The Response Method has encouraged us to try new techniques in order to better respond. It feels like expanding ones vocabulary in order to better communicate. We really do become better ‘speakers’ as we improve our craft.”
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