I got rejected from another season at a local art gallery. This probably sounds like the beginning of a whiny rant, but really? I have completely mixed feelings bordering on downright positive.
First of all, the gallery in question is nothing but awesome, AND uses outside artists to judge the entries (so nothing but love for the folks that run it). One of those artists, this year, was none other than Ann Hamilton- meaning, Ann Hamilton has now seen my name and my work. Win! Who cares if there wasn’t a majority vote in it’s favor, I have now shown my work to an artist who’s not only been on PBS (NERDHOLLYWOOD), but whose work I greatly admire. That’s awesome.
But also, I’ve been having lots of mixed feelings about the gallery scene, and my involvement in it (or lack thereof) in general. This is nothing against artists who show their work in galleries- I’m lucky enough to know several amazing artist friends who actively make and show their work all over Columbus and beyond. I respect not just their work, but the drive they have to put themselves out there and make the system work for them- I just don’t know if it’s for me. I love making art, I love giving art as gifts, and I love trading art, whether it’s for more art or for other useful/delicious things (best art trade to date? small installation for a jar of homemade maple syrup.)- but when it comes to assigning a monetary value to it and putting it up for ‘the Art World’ to see, I have feelings that are accurately described as ambivalent. This isn’t to say that showing work and selling work doesn’t feel good- of course it does. It’s like getting a high score on the SATs after studying for years. But, what do you do when you start to question, not just the score, but the whole system of standardized testing?
The whole thing gets even stickier when what you want to do can’t be sold. Galleries are businesses, so of course they want to put their energy into promoting artists who will help their businesses through sales…so where does this leave artists like myself who sometimes make things, but who feel just as strongly about making spaces or experiences? How do we, as artists, measure success if not through work sold and shows accumulated?
How do you feel? Do you try to show work in galleries? If not, do you still make things? Or, if you don’t make things, how do you get your work out there, how do you push your work to evolve?
As stated many times in many contexts, I have a complete inability to sit, rest, do nothing and be. This is why i love yoga and hate meditation. So- what to do when faced with with no big projects to pursue and a lack of inspiration? I just keep churning the wheels with arbitrary art-assignments and half-baked solo endeavors. I might just be moving in circles, but at least I’m moving. These usually involve long hours of tedious repetition, leaving me plenty of time and space to listen to radio shows, then music, and eventually new ideas. Once that happens these things, to which I’m never too attached, fall by the wayside. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they evolve or feed into something else, and sometimes they just disappear forever. Below are a few examples from the past year or so. Though usually uninteresting and always unfinished, these little stopgaps are incredibly helpful and, I’m only just starting to realize, an important part of how I make things:
Abandoned for now- the project as initially conceived is way too convoluted and internal to be interesting to me for as long as it needs to finish or to be interesting to anyone else.
Currently discontinued from lack of ideas/interest, but not totally abandoned out of guilt about not responding to Chris’s prompts. Creating interactions and exchanges is hard and when another artist tries to facilitate them, not responding makes me feel like an asshole. I also worry about karmic retribution.
…Eh? Still into this idea and really like how the first (of 22) finished pieces looks aesthetically, however, like the first, it’s super internal/personal and like all ‘product’ producing projects, I have a hard time staying motivated- if there’s no room/plan for interaction and no plan to display, what’s the point?
Ditto to the above. I’m not totally scrapping this idea, but without a real ‘what’s next’ beyond the image itself I have a hard time coming up with a motivating ‘why.’
Currently in the process of absorbing the following into my brain:
Studios, collections, spaces for exploration and discovery, permaculture, self-sustaining ecologies, learning ecologies, living lightly, living deeply, the connection between life and artistic practice, collections, our intrinsic need to touch natural materials, space and aesthetics, summer.
(all images linked to their original owners.)
Before I get too far into the ideas buzzing about my head, I’ve been trying to get caught up on the terribly unsexy work of documentation, including this:
As both involve long hours looking at a computer and fiddling with what feels like insignificant changes in color correction and transition timing, I’ve been dragging my feet to do it and all the way through it. BUGH. More updates and exciting things to come. Just as soon as I go play outside a bit more. And also read another chapter in this book…