graphite, pencil crayon, archival stickers, epoxy glue, paper, acid-free cardboard backing
This series is part of an ongoing investigation by the artist, Jennifer Pride, on how to maintain a balance between passion and profession.
The concept arose after working several years in various roles in the arts and culture sector. At first, this infusion of passion with profession was a point of pride, but that feeling began to sour with experience. In part, the issue was with time: a lot of off-work, personal hours spent doing prep work for art classes, which contributed to a lack of time available for maintaining a personal art practice. The irony was although the work done on personal time was in a sense “creative work” – and Pride tried to rationalize it as such – it left her with little fulfillment, and brewed in her a resentment towards work which had then become synonymous with being creative. The result was being creative felt like work.
Faced with this existential crisis, Pride began to ask questions about work and life balance. She sought answers through her art. She turned to the materials that surrounded her for inspiration: office stationery, personal work calendars, and other such supplies. The first dialogue between her creative self and professional self resulted in the 2014 series, Something More Than This, and has continued today with Work/Balance series, where she has designed works from the archival stickers found in her current position at an academic library.
These stickers are traditionally used in libraries to signify an item’s unique quality: red means reference item; yellow means reserve item; green means two day loan; blue means three day; and so on.
In this series, however, Pride abandons these predicated meanings. The stickers are intuitively positioned in colourful, pleasing arrangements surrounded by gentle etchings of pencil crayon, all that collectively create the balanced form of a mandala. Mandala is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates to mean “circle”. The practice of creating mandalas is one with a long standing, rich, cross-cultural history as a practice that helps to centre and ground oneself. The mandala brings its creator the sense of “… wholeness …[It] can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself–a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds” (The Mandala Project, 2006).
Pride has also recently become intrigued by the phenomena of the adult colouring book as a stress management tool. Whether there is actual causation between these colouring books and stress release, Pride is fascinated by the colouring book’s recent popularity and what she believes that says about our (perhaps suppressed) need to engage in the act of creation, and the benefits creating brings to our overall sense of wholeness and harmony. She has created these three mandalas as a way of pursuing her individual sense of balance.