Bricolage: The construction or creation from a diverse range of available things.
French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss introduces us to the bricoleur and contrasts the bricoleur with the engineer or craftsman in that the ‘bricoleur’s means cannot be defined in terms of a project.
The bricoleur is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks, but unlike the engineer he does not subordinate each of them to the availability of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the purpose of the project. The bricoleur’s first step to invention is retrospective.
When I was done reading Jan Holmevik’s Inter/Vention: Free Play in the Age of Electracy, I gently closed the book as it concluded and took to the canvas. Painting helps me relax my brain and make sense of the disparate thoughts running to my mind to make sense of it all.
I set out to create a bricolage painting, using paper paint samples from my local hardware store, acrylic paints, modge podge, high gloss and canvas. As I attempted to create this piece of art, I became frustrated at how some of the paint samples would lay flat, others peeled up no matter how hard I tried to pin them down. Some of my paint strokes appeared smooth, while others were rough. I had a vision in my head for how the painting would turn out, but in the end, it didn’t look anything like my vision.
I came upon the realization that my life is a bricolage.
This is my life.
Jan states, in recalling Levi-Strauss, The first computer, Altair could be understood as bricolage, hobbled together from existed parts and components that had been collected and selected by hackers.
My life was hobbled together from various parts and components.
With each step of my life, some components were drawn to me with such magnetic force that they attached themselves to my soul, while others, repelled away, no matter how hard I chased them.
Getting married at 19 years old.
My parent’s divorce.
The birth of my beautiful children.
Submitting my first proposal for a book.
Submitting additional proposals for books and magazines.
Receiving rejecting after rejection.
The death of my mother.
To create my life I had to work was what was available.
There were triumphs and losses. Joy and pain. Successes and failures. Some of this was under my control. Other factors were not.
My life is cobbled together from pieces and components of my history, my dreams, my pain, driving towards what I love, overcoming what I hate.
Just like this painting. Cobbled together from various parts, a variety of brush strokes, different materials. This bricolage is messy. It’s not perfect. It isn’t what I envisioned in my head. But it’s complete. A work of art. It represents my joy. My pain. My loss. My gain. It’s me.