On Purpose

#WhoseStoriesOurStories

"When faced with the mortal certainty of our own limited time here on earth, the process of settling on “what projects are worth our time and effort” can bring us to a screeching halt in our creative process, and leave us spinning our wheels forever without ever creating anything."

This is a ghost that’s followed me for most of my adult life, perhaps since the day I looked inward and knew that “art” was a quest I must pursue. (If you didn't know this about me, consider it #freeintel).

I had no words to name this ghost of uninspiration; I felt it as an omnipresent void, a wall, a black box I could not open. Certain things kept it at bay, but it was always there. It ultimately drove me from a soulless job in tech support to pursue a second degree in studio art, where I hoped I’d learn the trick of defeating it at last.

Two years later, I graduated. Studio art major with a minor in art history, concentration traditional printmaking; dean’s list, a handful of gallery exhibitions, one very prestigious award for a woodcut of cattle grazing on the Lost Coast. Nevertheless I despaired, for as I walked down the aisle in my cap and gown, ultimately Seattle-bound where I would learn to live by my wits, I knew I had not solved this riddle about myself. Not yet.

I relentlessly sought critique from my professors and advisors, and their responses were the same: Great rapport with materials, whether traditional or digital. Passionate and willing to put in the effort to succeed. Content-wise, a little all over the place. Ability and drive in spades; ultimately lacking clear purpose.

Well, wasn’t that what art school was supposed to teach you? How to think like an artist? How to be creative, how to wring inspiration from the universal and everyday?

My advisor laughed when I asked her that. "No," she said. "We taught you you how to plan and execute a three-week project. And you’re really, really good at that.

"Purpose, though, must come from within."

It would be many years before I created art again.

I never forgot; the quest to solve the riddle of purpose lay in the back of my mind as before. When I found the creative block prevented me from sketching, I took up spinning yarn. The simple activity, deriving from first principles, helped me create a space in my head to meditate, to contemplate this ghost and how it might be defeated. But that's a story for another time.

When Ingress came along, I saw--something--and I knew I had to pursue it.

There is a kind of zen to the path of mastery
that changes you

And after twenty years, I found I’d solved the riddle--inside the medium of augmented reality.

Through a kind of experimental and experiential performance art, the artist maps real-world problems into the less-intimidating “game space.” She builds connections with others, drawing them closer with explorations of Space and Time, weaving Story into our grand tapestry of shared experience. She reconstructs the experience of mystical participation with tools both ancient and modern; she accomplishes the impossible, not only once but over and over again. This is the artist’s purpose.

Discovering the hidden path. Gaining ingress. Stealing fire.

This is my purpose. And this is my story.
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