Monday, December 19, 2022
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
(Detail :: work in progress)
Monday, December 05, 2022
“How long did it take to to do that?” My whole life to this point, literally.
Monday, November 28, 2022
Saturday, November 26, 2022
- Making unplanned work in public forces action
- Fear creates energy to move ahead with the work
- Having people witness your creative process can be affirming
- Having people witness your creative process feels like electrified nakedness
- Using the drawings in different places and ways always seems to open up new possibilities
- I love manipulating (tearing, folding, creasing...) the drawings from one installation to the next and seeing how they change
- When that weird middle section of the install happens and I want to rush to get past it, I let myself feel the angst, and then take extra long, deep breaths and walk away if need be. Same as when I'm in the studio.
- My palms always get sweaty when it comes to heights, no matter how safe I am
- When people ask questions about what I'm making, it forces me to get better at making good, short answers
- My stomach is in knots the whole time
- Transforming a space through artistic intervention is a great uplifting experience
Thursday, November 24, 2022
The above quote and response comes from my reply to a friend's IG post about making things that are "easy" and still of quality. I've had my battles with the way of thinking that can infect creative people across disciplines. The myth that "all great art is the result of struggle" is just that, a myth. A way of thinking that follows from the idea that life is hard and when you struggle to gain status or other social/financial reward, then that reward carries even more merit somehow. With artists, it's perceived that struggles with mental illness or other neural divergent behavior is somehow responsible for their art rather than that person being able to make their in spite of their mental illnesses, not because of them.
I've not had any issues with mental illness in my life, thankfully, and that has never been a barrier to making good art. I'm not in the position of determining if any of my work is "great" or not, but I can say that not having a mental illness or addiction problem hasn't stopped me from making what I consider some very strong, worthwhile art work. Now, I do struggle with aspects of my work all of the time, but that doesn't equate to the work being better than something that was "easy". All I'm getting at is that artists need to reject the notion that they have to have a bad life or bad experiences to produce good work. It's complete nonsense.
I've struggled with making and/or appreciating work that I considered "easy", where the solution came so easily that I questioned the work's worth. Over time, I've gotten better with this and now find myself embracing a much wider range of thought surrounding what makes my work good or not in my eyes. The easy stuff should be embraced and enjoyed as much as the more difficult work. It's ok to make "easy" work and to enjoy it. There's nothing wrong with liking your easy work. If it brings you joy, why not? Something that you work on for days or months doesn't necessarily mean that it's any better than something that you made in a half-hour. Your worth as an artist isn't tied to how long or how hard something was to bring into existence, your worth as an artist is what you make of it. Nothing else.
It was a podcast kind of day in the studio. One of what could be a new favorite art pod is ArtSmack, hosted by Jerry Gagosian and Matt C. In a nutshell, Jerry Gagosian, aka Hilde Lynn Helphenstein, has made a name for herself with satirizing and poking fun at gallerists, institutions, art fairs and more through her meme-filled Instagram page. The ArtSmack podcast is no less entertaining and enlightening. Give it a shot!
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
Recently, I ran into a young artist that I know in the stairwell of our studio building. I asked him how things were going in the studio where he works as an assistant and he replied "not bad". Then I asked, "How are you?" and he replied, "Well, you know, just another day..." I was on my way out to grab a couple of snacks from the nearby supermarket and once I was outside and on my way up the block, I thought about what he'd said, "...just another day..." In the past, that phrase might not have bothered me that much, but for some reason it hit different this time. My thought was, no, this is not "just another day" and it kind of saddened me a bit because we seem to be conditioned to view each day as just like any other in our routines.
Now, the phrase "just another day" is often used as a metaphor for "nothing special is happening, I'm just going about my regular routine", which is often the case. There's a certain amount of surface sameness in a lot of our everyday lives which makes it feel like one day is just bleeding into another without any kind of distinguishing value. On the other hand, "just another day" can also elicit feelings of heaviness and/or sadness, coded language for "this is just another day of drudgery and misery"
I feel like this is symptomatic of how work culture in the U.S. tends to drain as much joy out of our daily lives as possible. There is so much outward sameness with our routines around jobs, going about our daily tasks and other things that repeat hour after hour, day after day that it's hard not to think of each day as the same as the last. All of us here need to figure out how to bring money into our lives just to be able to live day-to-day. That often leads us to be employed in jobs that we don't like, that I think most of us would quit if it weren't for whatever our needs are.
What I believe I heard in the young artist's "Just another day" was this: "It's just another day of giving my energy to someone else's pursuits, dreams and goals". I know that's how I felt during the years where I worked in retail jobs while also making art and having shows. No matter how much I liked where I was working, and I had a couple of favorite workplaces, there was always that feeling of frustration in the back of my mind about giving over so much of my energy to a job that advanced someone else's goals and not my own. In 2020, I got to walk away from my last regular job to pursue my life as a "full time" painter. I put full time in quotes because no matter where I worked in the past, I always prioritized my art life over the steady job. When you're an artist of any discipline, you're never divorced from what you're creating because it's always on your mind. When I was at work, I'd be going over ideas and possibilities in my head about what I wanted to do the next time I was in the studio.
Even though those days weren't strictly the same, the overall feeling was that they were because of the baked-in repetition of tasks. Some days, I'd feel more annoyed than others that I had to be at the job when I sorely wanted to be in the studio working out whatever my latest ideas were on the canvas, paper or panel. At times, it was visceral and others, not so much. I remember saying in response to "how are you?" something along the lines of "Same old, same old" or "Another day, another dollar", etc... just to keep from sounding too negagtive. Now that I get to come to the studio and do what I want to for myself, I've come to better understand how different each day really is. It's all perception; if it feels the same as yesterday, then it's the same to you. The reality is that this day and the next and the next, are entirely new. There's so much that's new that it's easy to take for granted if you aren't tuned into it, or even able to be tuned into it because of whatever else is going on in your life.
I think my take on each day being new and treating it as such also has to do with getting older and realizing how much less time is ahead of me than when I was younger. These days, I'm trying to make sure that I acknowledge every day as a new, original, never before seen day. Even as many of my days include some tasks that I don't always feel like doing, it's all for the greater good of advancing my creative priorities. I do my best to not take any day for granted because we aren't promised anything. Just waking up to a new day is a blessing that I embrace with all of my might and am thankful for. I now truly understand what my elders were saying when they said something similar when I was little. I really get it.