Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hannah Emerson on the Development of an Artistic Project

I recently submitted my first professional proposal for an artistic project. Never writing one before, I did not know exactly what I was getting myself into, and the process turned out to be one of both struggle and success.

The proposal experience taught me not only how hard is it to write clear paragraphs about the crazy thoughts in my mind but also the importance of communicating those ideas. When Elizabeth and I first decided to collaborate on a project, we spent a good amount of time solely talking about our interests. Our discussions birthed new and interesting perspectives, yet, when we began to write the proposal, we found creating a cohesive proposal with one intention to be a hearty task. It involved many written drafts with heavy, and sometimes not so pleasant, conversation.

This past weekend, I found myself in conversation with a friend from home about the Fellowship. Just hearing of the proposal acceptance last week, I instantly shared with him the wonderful news and started to discuss my experience of writing the proposal. I shared one small detail about how the first draft of the document, initially saved as "First Time Around Artistic Project Proposal" magically transformed throughout the process into Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and eventually into Eighth Time Around Project Proposal; not to mention all the extra saved documents full of research notes, related ideas, and feedback we collected throughout the process.

Just the other day I curiously glanced through our drafts. In the beginning, the first drafts were disconnected and chunky; full of beautiful thoughts, but our ideas jumped from one image to the next, making it difficult to understand. I was confused by some of my own word choices and can confidently say an outsider's mind would struggle to follow. The drafts near the middle seemed more connected at parts, yet long-winded and still a bit disorganized. The beautiful thoughts now had details and explanations, creating cleaner images of the project, but the long transitions and messy formatting distracted the viewer, taking away from the overall flow. In the end, the drafts were clear and organized. The concept, the means for execution, and the possibilities for artistic growth were communicated with clarity. All of the cracks, chunks, and craters were filled in with descriptive details that did not distract but intrigued the reader.

Looking back, I begin to see a connection between how the process of writing the proposal will directly relate to the process of creating our piece. During proposal process, Elizabeth and I discovered the importance of working with each other and how communication is key, not only to the proposal but to our artistic project concept as a whole. As we begin creating our new work, the struggle will pay off when the development of the piece, disconnected at first, successfully transforms over time. The long transitions and messy formatting will become clear. A cohesive work, full of descriptive details to fill up those unwanted cracks, chunks, and craters, will emerge.

It was just last week when Elizabeth and I heard our artistic project proposal was accepted. All the concentrated effort, long hours of editing, getting feedback, editing and then re-editing again, paid off. I could not be happier.

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