Monday, September 26, 2011

Divided by Zero and falling


Divided by Zero, 2011, 40" x 30, acrylic on canvas

A new painting, Divided by Zero, on the studio wall. It's one of a few new "hybrid" works that highlight spatial and compositional dynamics previously unexplored in my painting. This is one of the results of new creative challenges I set up for myself recently in an effort to rethink some of my art-making practices. The process of moving beyond places of stagnation in the work is always tough, but necessary for the the work and artist to grow. 

The creative growth process can be harrowing at times because of all of the questioning that comes along with it, but you have to be willing to take on those doubts with action(s) since doing so is an essential part of creativity. The real issue is understanding that for the art and artist to grow,  those questions, whatever they may be for any particular artist, by nature, are unanswerable.  

I watched a video of an artist talk given by Bill Viola on the Tate Channel (from 2006) not long ago. In it, Viola addressed the issue of creative doubt by saying, "Artists need to know how to fall, to step off of the ledge in a leap of faith." I could not agree more. When I'm in the studio, I'm often in a state of "falling". Not only that, but I also thrive and gain energy from what feels like a striving to get "there", even when I know that there is no "there" to arrive at. As soon as you get "there",  all bets are off since what you have been looking for doesn't always seem quite as satisfying anymore. All that's left to do is to start falling again. I'm sure that anyone pursuing any kind of creative path already knows this, consciously or not. It's good to hear someone speak about those feelings and remind us of how important it is to accept the risks of a creative life. 

Falling, as it is generally understood, has failure attached to it because falling implies that a goal has been missed; you fall from a cliff, you can die. The goal of living, in this extreme case, has been been missed. For artists, falling is critical for there to be growth and discovery. When I take that step and don't quite know where I'll land is the thing that fuels the fire. It's one of the ways I keep myself connected and thoroughly engaged with the work. Without falling from time to time, real engagement with the work is lost and what's left is, at best, mediocre. 

Thinking about falling as it relates to creativity got me thinking about Laurie Anderson's "Walking and Falling"
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