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.)
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.
Website updated! Website updated! Curious about what I was doing the later half of 2013? Go check it out. If there’s one lesson I can take away from 2013 it’s to either document as I go or to save up 20 episodes of This American Life for the two times a year I do update everything. (On a related note- any recommendations for a good, streaming radio program one could listen to while doing such tedius tasks as website updating, dishes doing or rug making? I’ve just about exhausted the TAL and RadioLab archives.)
You also may have noticed, if you’ve been here before, that things have changed around here as well- In an effort to simplify and clean everything up a bit, I went ahead and deleted the pages that were serving as a makeshift portfolio in years past. Looking for art? Click on the links above or go to www.catlynch.com- that’s where it’s all going to live from now on.
I’ve also changed up the header and tagline to be a bit more intentionally generic. After the few weeks of private and public existential crises, I’ve decided 2014 will be a year of experimentation here- instead of trying to figure out what this strange nook of internet is for RightNow, I’m going to give myself permission to not give a shit about what I give a shit about this year. My only goal is to write, and to write often. Both online and off, for the past six months I’ve felt the ever suffocating weight of writer’s block- in large part because the longer I wait to write anything, the more loaded and precious it feels like the next thing has to be. So forget that- good writing, bad writing, relevant and global, inward and navel gazing- nonfiction, fiction, a grey area between the two- funny writing, sad writing, absolutely vanilla writing- reviews, how to’s and interviews- writing I’m proud of and total crapola.
And now, the semi-regular New Year’s nod to Miss O’Hara.
The Northam Park Natural Art and History Museum’s extended hours were a huge success! Over the course of seven hours, our new wing was filled with amazing new artifacts. Our associate, Will Foster, presented a series of engaging and informative workshops, we diversified our audience (with both human and non-human visitors) and continued to further our mission of engaging visitors directly with the environment.
A huge thank-you to all who supported the museum- though we’ve once again closed our doors, the memory will continue to live on.
A full photographic account will be available soon, however in the mean time, please enjoy this selection of images that were taken and published (via instagram) during the museum’s brief life.