Creative Process: Let It Simmer by Kerri McGill

Idea to action...
That is success.  The idea energizes immediate action and grand results.  The concept erupts into being and the audience goes wild!

Isn't that how it goes?

"Creating something new requires leaps of imagination... A hunch, immersing yourself in source materials.. Things need time to simmer, connect...Somewhere along the way...Click...everything falls into place."(Davis&McIntosh)

Xu Bing scribbles a bird into a sketchbook.  Maybe he has just returned to Bejing.  Maybe he is in the galleries of NY.  Maybe the little sketch has followed him from his days in China's countryside.  A small scribbled bird becomes two cranes.  The cranes are rejected and evolve into  The Phoenix Project; a male and a female phoenix, 100' each and over 20 tons collectively.  The exhibit program (Mass MoCA) dates the project as "(2007-2010)...Created over a period of two years."  This implies that the first year mentioned is dedicated to the concept.  When your birds carry the weight of socioeconomic class differences that structure China's growth, this time span is reasonable.

For most, the neglected part of the creative process is the "simmering" stage.... That part where we sit still and let the idea set for a while...take it in.  Immediate result-driven action undermines the potency of the idea.  Complexity and detail fall by the wayside.

We take in so much.  Some things stick and some are forgotten.  A scribble turns into a sketch.  Time goes by.  We observe and absorb.  Ideas grow. The sketch sits.  The idea outgrows the sketch.  We need more sketches.

"Xu Bing is known for mining a subject in depth over the course of many years."(Mass MoCA)  His Phoenixes are made from the waste materials of the skyscraper constructions in Bejing.  Small LEDs line the birds.  When the sun sets, the mythical pair turns into a constellation.

Their original home was to be the Cesar Pelli-designed World Financial Tower. The contrast of the luxury building and the course nature of the sculpture's materials emphasized all of the underlying themes.  "The original commissioner abandoned the project."(Mass MoCA)

The Phoenix Project astounds at every level: physicality, layered concepts, the materials and the relationship between concept, process and material.

It is about the simmering.

Xu Bing was sure it would only take 6 months to complete.  What shadow of a phoenix would he have come up with in that time frame?

Avalanche Phoenix by Kerri McGill

Anyone who does any type of business with me knows that I will not take calls on a good beach day. I owe any shred of sanity to quiet beach days alone. Friends know to invite themselves only if they can wake up early enough. I don't wait around.

My winter sanity, however, became an issue until snowboarding saved the day! Even in July I like to slip back into winter memories of snowboarding. Maybe because I've only eeked in two beach days so far(and one of those days involved a hoody and pants.)

Core77's competition for snowboard designs didn't help. This is my design submission. The phoenix is a great beast, a bird that incorporates themes of death and rebirth from fire and ash. This design takes the idea of the phoenix and replaces fire with snow and ice... the avalanche phoenix.

The most important part of the design is that it works in both directions. If the rider has the bird in front, it seems that the bird is diving down the mountain, or better yet, flying off the the half-pipe. If the more abstract avalanche side of the board is the front, the powder kicked up will meld with the nose and it will look like the phoenix is actually breaking free from the snowy mountain.

This design is a bit of a tribute to those who have been taken by avalanches. It is not anything I could even imagine.