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…
Hey friends, we’re going to try an experiment here- Now, you were warned that this might happen (see here), however, I do feel the need, at least this first time, to give you a head’s up, so you can opt out if you’re not interested.
I’m going to try something that just a few years ago would’ve seemed impossible and insane-
I am going to write. About food. And share a recipe (of sorts).
Like sewing and gardening, cooking is a skill my mom tried to teach me growing up but, through sheer stubbornness and dependency (‘but why learn, when you’re so good at it already and you’re right down the road and will be for forever and ever?’) never quite stuck. It wasn’t until I was living in my first apartment, eating giant potfuls of beans and rice, and oatmeal for dinner that I started to take feeding myself (and anyone else I might be interested in impressing) seriously. This also happened to coincide with an absolutely amazing science class that looked at the food industry from all angles and dinner became, not just tasty, but a chance to nourish my body and vote with my fork. Thus began an investigation into cooking with whole foods, and a real relationship with flavors and tastes. Thanks to friends, family (mom!), the internet, trial and error, I’ve graduated from someone who can possibly make dinner with two hours, a recipe and a few trips to the store to Someone Who Can Make Dinner In a Reasonable Amount of Time And With What’s On Hand, Recipe Be Damned, which is really about as far as my cooking aspirations go. On one level, I want to celebrate that, but on another, I want to share these tasty things I’ve been making with you so that you can make them and share them with the people who love who will make them and share them with the people they love- This isn’t just thoughtless navel-gazing, people, this is a REVOLUTION.
Like Conan and Fat Tire, or peanut butter and siracha, black beans and sweet potatoes are a pairing that have earned a special place in my heart, despite the naysayers. So much so, in fact, that when I start thinking about dinner (usually about 30 min before I want to be eating it) and I think ‘Gee, I have a sweet potato that needs to be eaten soon, I instantly think, “THANK HEAVENS THERE”S BEANS!” because there is. There’s always beans.
If not, then open a can, or put some beans and rice on to cook. Meanwhile, roast that potato- scrub, dry and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with a little olive oil and salt. Roast at 425 F. Go live your life.
Now it’s time to make the queso;
until the whole thing is thick like queso sauce. How will you know when it’s reached the right consistency?
In a large pan, saute some onion. After it’s just starting to brown, toss in the beans, a can of tomatoes, juice from one lime, some (?) cumin and a few sprigs of oregano. Cook on medium high heat until the liquid begins to evaporate.
I am good at a lot of things: making pancakes, sweating,Street fighter 2 (arcade version)- But one thing I’m absolutely terrible at, is being sick. I’m really good at advocating for natural, noninvasive treatment, like resting and fluids. I’m really bad at following my own advice for more than 4 hours, at which point I either fall to pieces of melodrama and self-loathing like Chris Trager:
…or I deny what is happening, a la personal hero and spirit animal Leslie Knope:
Here is a list of things that, like Leslie, I’m ‘doing’ while watching Parks and Rec on netflix and mouth-breathing:
Sometimes I’m fairly convinced that the universe is trying to communicate with me via public radio. (Which, if this is the case, good work, Universe! I’m ALWAYS listening to public radio, and trust the the likes of Carl Castle, Terry Gross and Lynn Rossetto Casper with almost frightening implicity.*)
This past week, cosmic intervention took the form of the TED radio hour (as it sometimes does). I was flipping through the stations (let’s be honest, looking for some Journey to belt on the way home) when I heard the phrase ‘LOLcats.’ I, of course, immediately abandoned my search for the smell of wine and cheap perfume and tuned in to listen. Though I didn’t happen to catch all of the talk (The entirety of which, you can see here) the part I did manage to catch and which I’ve been mulling over like a tasty worther’s original, is this:
The stupidest creative act is still a creative act. The real gap isn’t’ between the mediocre and great work, the real gap is between getting started and doing nothing. If you’ve created something, even if it’s stupid, you’ve put yourself in a position to do more.
OH YEAH. Does anyone else periodically lose sight of the fact that we all started making art because at some point it just feels good? Or, to go a step further, does anyone else periodically discredit the creative acts they do based on an arbitrary scale of ‘worthy (i.e. labored over)’ and ‘stupid (i.e. fun’)? For now, let’s stop doing this and just take a moment to celebrate that for no logical or tangible reasons, we are creatures that make things, and sometimes these things are fun.
As a first step, here are some completely frivolous posters and cards that were made entirely for fun:
I had a lot of fun making these, and there’s certainly some creative remixing happening here, but is this still…art? Is it a ‘lesser’ form of art than my large scale projects or even my drawings? “There is no such thing as bad art, there’s just ART, and things that are not”…but how can you tell which is which? Without the context of the gallery or museum to validate what you’re doing, how do you justify your work to the rest of the world? Or even to yourself? What am I doing awake past 10:30 and why am I trying to form words and/or thoughts? More questions and more ambiguous, ambivalent ponderings to come as this stuff continues to rattle about in my head.
OH: And in case you were in need of more motivation to make things, check out my friend Sharon’s latest blog post, where you’ll find answers to all your lame excuses AND a picture of the cutest dog in all of Ohio.
*Seriously. I once tried waiting until 9:30 to have my first cup of coffee, based on a report I heard on Morning Edition, with tragic results.