What I found in the silence:

  • That I want to be better at writing
  • That I want to be better at coherently explaining my process/intent behind my work
  • That these things happen through practice
  • That I am not adult enough to practice either without the element of shame and accountability that come with a public forum such as here.

 

To these ends, I added some weekly writing time into my morning-studio mix. My rules* are simple: Publish something- once a Wednesday, every Wednesday, preferably with a few sentences of actual writing (by me) involved. Picture-only posts should be used only as a last resort. Following the Elizabeth Gilbert Principal of Creative Work, the something doesn’t have to be great, or even that prolific, what matters most is that I show up and keep showing up until I’ve tricked my habit-driven plodder of a brain into thinking that this is what we’re supposed to be doing. (My art practice really is like a big obsessive compulsive slow-moving beast of burden)

This past month has been full of internet outages (both frustrating and refreshing and entirely what I needed), ill-timed Wednesday morning meetings and intentional self-imposed-rule breaking as I get deeper and deeper into making for Remnants. But that’s the point of self-imposed rules, right? Looking to get back into the habit of stringing together scraps of English on a regular basis as the project continues to coalesce, and I turn my attention towards a) writing a statement and b) figuring out how I will answer when a loved one looks at the piece and says, “So….?”

In the meantime, let’s get excited about blue skies and the return of the sun:

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*because I have to make rules, even if they exist solely to be broken. It’s worth noting too, that these are totally personal and arbitrary. Feel free to steal for your own purposes or disregard entirely

sorting materials and ideas

…as both start to slowly coalesce around a central gravity.
(When I told this to C he said I’ve been watching too much Cosmos. I’ve only seen three episodes, but as this conversation came on the heels of a dream that involved trying to watch Cosmos on the old set in Neil Degrasse Tyson’s seaside vacation home, it’s possible I’ve been watching Cosmos too intently .)

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Pausing in the ‘messy middle.’*

From Jacinda (who says it better than I can):

…I have tried to reconcile this, deciding if it is worthy to pursue (or too insular), but I can’t stop thinking about it. The concept refuses to fade away and I keep taking photographs. I may post a few of them over the next week or two while I formulate the words to describe what this means.

 

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*the ‘messy middle’ is a concept I first read about via Nina Simon. As a total completionist, I find this idea fascinating and scary, and have been experimenting with this concept.

gallery schmallery.

gallery schmallery.

So-

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?

navel gazing as personal reflective processing.

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:

A thorough, deliberate and ritualized destruction of a beloved anatomy book.

A thorough, deliberate and ritualized destruction of a beloved anatomy book.

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.

A holdover from my first Postcard Collective exchange- still working to interpret Chris Toalson's 10 'photo' prompts.

A holdover from my first Postcard Collective exchange- still working to interpret Chris Toalson’s 10 ‘photo’ prompts.

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.

A cataloging of every apron worn by the female characters of Mad Men, inspired by textile patterns, midcentury class/gender-roles as expressed through clothes, and a desire to turn the impulse to watch Mad Men into an art project.

A cataloging of every apron worn by the female characters of Mad Men, inspired by textile patterns, midcentury class/gender-roles as expressed through clothes, and a desire to turn the impulse to watch Mad Men into an art project.

Totally abandoned.

from the Encyclopedia Apocalyptica, a series of numerological historiographs exploring personal fears and the book of Revelations

from the Encyclopedia Apocalyptica, a series of numerological historiographs exploring personal fears and the book of Revelations.

…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?

The most recent stopgap - thinking about plants and  ecologies and connecting those interests to my long standing interests in viscera and sewing paper.

The most recent stopgap – thinking about plants and ecologies and connecting those interests to my long standing interests in viscera and sewing paper.

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.’