The Gift of 14 Pizzas
What is it about the brown chewy/crispy crust, with little pockets of air, the tangy zest of the tomato sauce or the richness of the stringy cheese that makes pizza so popular? In a recent survey 33 million Americans said that if they could only eat one food for the rest of their lives it would be pizza. Pizza is consumed in 98% of American households and 33% of those surveyed said they would choose it for their last meal.
Something about the combination of pizza ingredients invites artistry. Did you know that in Japan there are masters who dedicate their entire lives to perfecting just the right combination of dough, salt, cheese and sauce in just the right oven to provide the ultimate sensory experience for those lucky enough to be seated in their restaurant.
This past week I got to have the experience of pizza as an art form while my chef son, Jack, created a series of pizzas in 14 variations of dough, and toppings. Watching him toss dough and experiment with a limited palette of ingredients reminded me that art is everywhere and everyone is an artist.
Creating art in a series is a powerful way to build your skills and develop your unique artist voice. Working in a series allows you to think deeply about a subject and to tell your story from a variety of viewpoints. It permits you to experiment with a variety of techniques and ideas so you can decide which to embrace and which to let go. Additionally, knowing that you have a clear end goal: a certain number of works to complete helps you to feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement. Mastery develops through practice and a series is a great way to improve your technique whether working in paint, dance, music or food.
My friend George Herrick healed his cancer creating and photographing years of daily stone cairns and he celebrates the joy of his garden with daily mandalas created from the fallen petals. Josef Albers didn't paint squares; he painted different color combinations which he always portrayed within squares. Claude Monet explored the color of light at different times of day changing canvases as he worked through the day to the one appropriate for that time and that type of light. The coherence of your work is your artist's voice. When you work in a series it is also easier for you and others to write words about your work. Imagine sitting down to write the entry in the catalogue which explains your life’s artistic legacy; which themes, materials, style, subject matter would choose to define your work?
How to go about choosing a theme? Consider what you are passionate about. Look around you and you will find inspiration speaking to you everywhere. When looking for a theme consider varying Subject Matter (place, an object, a motif, a concept, a story), varying Technique (design, color, pattern, media), and/or a single or range of Emotions or even a Business Motivation such as (an exhibition, a book, collectibles or a brand) Your choices can be as simple as my son’s pizza ingredients. Your only question to ask yourself is if your art reflects you, and the way you see the world. I am here if you need my support as you explore your themes and questions through your art.
Jack’s 14 pizzas brought me many gifts this month. I am thankful for all that my son and my students teach me about the importance of experimentation, repetition and play in learning. For the rich and inviting aroma of baking bread and cheese that filled my house this past week and for the opportunity to taste, discuss and compare so much deliciousness. I am even thankful for the extra pounds. What are you thankful for this month? Where can you invite play and variation to your artistry? Reach out if you would like feedback on the art you are currently creating or if you would like to join me for the May events below.
With Love & Blessings
Variations, by definition, begin with a theme and alter it. The wealth of techniques for varying the theme without destroying it creates the beauty of the form. I, too, could create a theme, expand it, turn it upside down, turn it inside out, or flip it front to back. I, too, could do all kinds of imaginable operations to it. - Twyla Tharp