In Our One-Bedroom-Two-Studio-Rowhouse: Wayne Stratz and Margaret Almon
In Our One-Bedroom-Two-Studio-Rowhouse: Wayne Stratz and Margaret Almon

I read Wayne’s question on Facebook,

Feedback asked for here ~ I often use the word collaboration when speaking of the projects created by Margaret and myself. I read one opinion that the word is over used and is a negative word about helping your enemies. Thoughts?

Yes, the word collaborate exudes negativity in the context of war and cooperating with enemy invaders, as in World War II.  I have had moments of hearing it that way, which is jarring, but the next time I hear the word the connotation is gone.  The etymology of collaborate is from the Latin, com(with) + labore (work): laboring together.

The feedback on Facebook was overwhelmingly positive

  • Not everyone can collaborate so beautifully…continue your use of the word as it is not overused and/or negative whatsoever.
  • Two artists working together on a project IS a collaboration. Someone’s been reading too many war stories!
  • Since the word implies working closely together, there is obviously room for differing objectives. It describes what you do very well and I can’t think of a different word that works.
  • Use it!!!!  said all the people above as we collaborated over the question! Definition of COLLABORATE. 1. : to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor. You and Margaret….col·lab·o·ra·tion. The action of working with someone to produce or create something. Something produced or created in this way. Synonyms> cooperation – contribution

When Wayne and I create mosaic words, house numbers, and mandalas together, I am grateful for the process of collaboration, and the new work that arises from it.

Our studios are adjacent.  In the photo, Wayne and I are standing in my studio, and his is visible through the doorway. We are both introverts, and enjoy having our own space, with our own tools and materials and room to contemplate, but at the same time we can consult on colors or design by stepping over the threshold.

In reading about collaboration, I was struck by the idea of collaborating from a position of strength not weakness: coming into collaboration with our own individual talents and knowledge, bringing our best selves, our full powers.

When Wayne begins a mosaic word with his drafting board, cutting and grinding glass, his skill with curves and elegant letters, he is participating fully, and then he brings the word to me, and I begin my process of participating fully in flowing pieces and melding colors, nipping the glass into small shapes that catch the light.

Often, we begin with the wrong question: We ask, “What should I do?” when we might ask, “How can I participate?’” This second question speaks to the process of engagement rather than to a task to be completed. When we embrace deeper involvement, we immediately enter a realm larger than our individual contribution. We are nourished, and in turn we nourish others.  Barry Svigals.

Author Barry Svigals describes the kernel of our collaboration: We are are nourished, and in turn we nourish others.

Laboratory comes from the same root as collaborate, and this reminded me a few lines of poetry I wrote, from a series about Marie Curie.  Marie and Pierre collaborated in the laboratory, and I was drawn to the image of their alternating and combining handwriting in their notebooks, and the sense of Marie not as a “helper” but collaborator.

It is not good for man to be alone,
said the presenter of the Nobel Prize to Pierre
and Marie. Was she formed from soup bones,
God’s kitchen vision? How hard to find a good helper!
Let us not separate these creatures whose handwriting
alternates and combines in the working notebooks
covered with formulae, signing papers together saying:
We found. We observed. One of us showed. Our work.

 

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