The Word of the Year 2024
Flow in positive psychology, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time. **https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
I don’t remember when I began selecting a word of the year. Merriam Webster started creating a word of the year in 2003. The American Dialectic Society began a decade earlier in 1990. The trend has grown. Now you can google “word of the year” and find a plethora of guides, justifications, lists of potential choices, and even a “Word of the Year Generator”.
In an article on the AARP Website the rationale for selecting your word was as an alternative to a News Years Resolution. “A carefully chosen word is a type of mental mentor — something to help us stay motivated as we move toward our goals”
A word of the year serves as a touchstone when I feel off track. My word of the year for 2023 was wind. It referred to the Buddhist concepts of the eight worldly winds; four positive and four negative. (gain and loss, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and disrepute). I choose the word to remind me that whatever the achievement or disappointment I experienced wasn’t my goal. My goal was to stay on the creative path and let the winds blow. This helped when I had a few big achievements and several rejections.
This year's word "flow" was not chosen from a list or with the help of a tool. The word just arrived one morning out of the blue. It was a perfect word for the year to come.It's the way I want to work as an artist and to live as a happy productive person.
Flow is that state of being identified by Hungarian American psycolorgist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi while researching happiness and creativity. The term describes what it is to be lost in the creative process. When I am in a flow state in my best work is produced. It doesn’t happen everyday, but it happens frequently in the right conditions.
My flow is interrupted by external forces like deadlines or calls for entry where I am making something to fit into someone else's box. I also can prevent a flow state by not letting ideas percolat at their own pace. Pressure kills flow. To encourage flow I have to let go of the clock and allow myself to dive into a project without any notion of the end result. Let the process take me for a ride.
Staying on the creative path requires that I listen to the internal voice and allow that voice to send me in new directions. An example of this is a new series I am getting ready to start. I was inspired by a conversation with a young artist I met at my local art museum. We began following each other on instagram. She asked me for coffee. Our conversation turned to her complicated relationship with her family. That led me to think about my own mother giving birth to me in 1959.
After the that conversation my mind was filling with questions. What was it like for a woman like my Mom in that era ? How did the expectations of time and culture affect our relationship? Who would have she been if she had been born twenty years latter? I ended up coming home and searching for photographs of women in the late 50’s and early 60’s. That led me to the archives in the library of commerce. Down the rabbit hole I went. Now I have several photo collage compositions sitting in my studio ready to paint and eventually to stitch.
Thats flow. Allowing an idea to lead me into new territory at it's own pace.
I am very excited about these new projects. They will be added to my ongoing series of vintage family portraits included in an exhibition called "Merging Lines". My hope is that I can have enough portraits to book a solo show at a venue here in Utah.
My year began by allowing an idea to flow from one little conversation over coffee, into a larger investigation, and creating new work.
Until Next Time....