The Poetic Method : A Day in the Life of Polly Orr
Written by : Polly Orr // @polly.the.poet
Question: How do you make the minutia of every day life into art?
Hypothesis: Through the application of mindfulness, aesthetic awareness, gratitude, and humour, the mundane will transform into the master piece of living.
Materials: pen, paper, varied wardrobe, assorted fruits, paint brushes, paints, bus pass, time
Step 1: When you awake, choose an alter ego to embody. Choose your alter ego wisely to suit the tasks of the day. Look to archetypal characters for inspiration (ie. The Rebel, The Dreamer, The Warrior, and The Everyman).
Step 2: Pick out an outfit your alter ego would wear. Over time as you pursue this practice, a wardrobe quickly turns into a costume cage. To ensure your collection suits the needs of any alter ego that may arise, remain constantly vigilant for pieces of clothing that you yourself would never wear but that one your alter ego’s just might.
Step 3: Paint your face. When strangers ask what you are all dressed up for, tell them “ I am celebrating life!” You can use more conventional make-up for this application, but make sure your colourful eyeshadows and perfectly penciled lines move away from your eyes and onto your cheeks and forehead.
Step 4: Make sure all the colours of the rainbow (ROYGBV) make it onto your breakfast plate. Suggested ingredients include dried cherries, orange slices, bananas, kiwis, blueberries and grapes. While preparing and eating the meal, do not engage in any other activity, which means no listening to music, no watching television and no reading. Focus on the vibrant colours and smells of the dish you are preparing. Cut each fruit into smaller shapes and sizes. Arrange them into a tasty mandala. Meditate briefly on this image and feel gratitude for the food you’re about to eat. Dig in and enjoy!
Step 5: To offset the hierarchy and rejection of established institutions, engage in guerilla style dissemination of your creativity. Make several small paintings, poems, zines and love letters. For a local burst of colour, stealthily sneak into your neighbours’ garden and take two to seven petals of varying hues. Rub them into the paper for an all-natural pigment. Once the creations are complete, visit three new neighbourhoods and place your newly created letters into mail boxes. Put two dimensional artworks and poems in between newspapers in the local Metro boxes. Leave a few on the back seat of a bus with a small note that reads: For You. Borrow books from Free Little Libraries in the area you are in and write poems in the margins. If it is winter, write messages for your neighbours in the snow.
Step 6: Take a small cardboard ‘Free Hugs’ sign to a downtown train station. Offer your services for one-two hours.
Step 7: If you liked working with the petal paints, night time is best for sneaking a petal or two for future creative sessions.
- When embodying a particularly colourful or odd alter ego, the public will want to engage. The simple presence of colour gives a stranger permission to be curious and to strike up a conversation. This will produce more spontaneous interactions which can be utilized to discuss the arts and creativity, or to simply enjoy a more human moment.
- We are what we eat. If we put priority into being playful and present at meal time it sets the intention for the entire day.
- As an artist, it is important to be generous and generative. In the current system of external validation, an artist must often wait for a curator or potential client to tell them their work is good enough. It can be empowering to make art continuously and give it away anonymously. It is important to trust that it will make it into the right hands. Never underestimate the impact of a small genuine act of beauty. These actions can become subversive blips in a potentially monotonous commute home or routine trip to the mail box, and can be remembered for a long time to come.
- If you are going to be lurking through your neighbor’s gardens late at night, its best to wear fairy wings. On the rare occasion that you are caught in the act, they will be surprised, confused, and delighted enough to approve your actions. As an added safe guard, its always nice to offer them one of the paintings you will make from their flower petals.
The human condition is one of repetition and routine. The role of the artist is to embrace, challenge and reinvigorate those in between moments that end up creating the vast majority of our existence. The good artist learns to do this for themselves. The great artist learns how to give these skills to others. Through collaboration and curiosity even the smallest task can be transformed. And through this transformation the gap between art and life becomes smaller. We each have the opportunity to pursue our own experiments and to draw new conclusions about ways to lead a vibrant and fulfilling life. By sharing our results we contribute to the rich tapestry of human experience as it was and as it continues to be recreated.
Polly Orr is a recent graduate of the Fine Arts Program at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Their practice includes socially engaged art, experimental writing, and body painting. Polly is an active community advocate, always seeking new methods for helping people relate in meaningful ways. At the advent of their professional career, they are excited to see how their various passions will continue to push them into new forms and new ways of thinking.
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