Another conversation with a friend has sparked my interest and inspired this blog post. My friend commented about the hand stitching on a piece of mine she saw on exhibit. I chose the stitch pattern intentionally to represent the meaning behind the cloth. My friend didn't have that background information and her initial reaction was " I use those type of marks in my work all the time. I wonder if Lisa copied me?"
Hearing that, I struggled to recall any pieces of hers that had those type of marks.Was I subconsciously inspired by her stitching or did my mind come up with it on my own? Hard to say. So many factors influence us - we don't always know where that inspiration comes from.
On a number of occasions, I have incorporated some element or technique into my work, and felt that it was "mine" - unique to me. Then I see a similar element or technique in the work of another. The person didn't know me, and was unlikely influenced by me. I didn't know them, so my work wasn't influenced by theirs. We just happened to come up with something similar.
This also brings the question - when can we claim something to be "ours" ? Many people use similar imagery in their work, yet the work may be very different. I have used a lot of labyrinth imagery. So does that mean others who use it are copying me? Perhaps, if they see my work and consciously decide to use it. But most likely, the imagery speaks to them. They aren't copying me, they are tapping into a universal symbol.
I suppose a lot of this is about ego - the need to feel that something is "mine". Instead of recognizing that we are all connected and we are all tapping into the same source of inspiration, we have to claim ownership.
Have you experienced this? I'd love to hear your stories.