This summer I created an immersive installation on Governors Island as a 4heads PORTAL House resident that proved to be a seismic shift in my practice.
Apropos of the type of work I’ve been creating since 2018, the work I INTENDED to create on Governors Island was a collection of 1:8 scale dioramas. I had planned to construct several separate pieces each populated by a community of 11” tall bat/human hybrids that would explore connections between viruses (foreign bodies), community, and colonization.
Below is a concept sketch of some initial ideas of how I might activate the space I was given. I included this sketch in my application package.
When we’re young, we don’t dwell on thoughts of mortality. Our bodies feel good, look good, and perform well. Lack of maintenance – or even self-abuse – doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the resilient machines that we are.
After 40 or 50 years, however, the machine benefits from more regular maintenance and less rough handling.
I would have done well last week to keep this in mind when I was racing my 52-year-old Bernina 731 sewing machine and flipping switches back and forth like a demon. One rough flip too many and that was that. I broke the needle position pin.
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
— Andy Warhol
This is one of my favorite artist quotes. It’s especially poignant for those of us who are self-directed and self-employed. If you want to be showing your work more, you have to apply to more opportunities. If you want to create more, or different, work, you have to log more hours or be willing to venture into an exploration phase in your studio.
When I was a much younger artist, six years into my professional practice, I found myself getting frustrated. Why wasn’t my work getting shown? Why wasn’t I being invited to participate in group shows? Why wasn’t my career advancing?
I’d graduated from art school (yay! good for me!) and even developed a somewhat consistent studio practice. Although I had amassed a body of work, none of it was getting shown.
The answer turned out to be very simple. I hadn’t yet embraced Warhol’s famous quote.
I wanted to advance my art career, but I wasn’t doing anything to MAKE that happen. The audience I wanted was not going to have a chance to see my work unless I MADE IT HAPPEN. As much as the introverted me would have liked, I couldn’t just sit around the studio creating work if I wanted to attain my artistic goals. I had to make changes to my habits.
Not having access to a dedicated woodshop has meant that I’m finding creative solutions for the shapes and sizes of wood that I need to build the base and four 42” high columns for The Bearded Lady diorama.
Progress has been slow, but forward moving. On one hand, the snail’s pace of this piece has been agonizing. On the other, it’s meant that I’ve had bonus time to enrich the work by adding more details and contextual layers. Have I mentioned lately how much I love research?
Like many folks who have made the choice to work for themselves I’m terrible at taking time off. I’m great at finding reasons to not take a whole day free from work (“That deadline’s tomorrow!”, “I wasn’t productive enough this week”). If you work for yourself in any capacity, these excuses may sound familiar 😉
As much as I may think I am, I’m not a machine. If I don’t mindfully take time off to rest, refresh and reset, my body finds ways to force me to do so. Even though I know this about myself, I still need to be reminded of this fact (frequently!)
In March vaccines rolled out, days got warmer and longer, hope filled hearts. Like all of us I’m sick of pandemic-life and ready for a new beginning. I was looking forward to shedding winter layers. My body said, “NOPE”.
In NYC the first week of March is usually marked by the mounting of several notable art fairs. After a year of having seen very little artwork in person (aside from my own!) I’m feeling the absence of these fairs deeply.
Longtime subscribers will know that after visiting the fairs I write a round-up article of my experience – a curated, virtual tour of what I found to be most inspiring.
Lacking current art fair fodder, I went through my notes from the past 14 months of exhibits and online museum visits (and one precious, post-Covid in-person viewing) to remind myself of the artists and artwork that rocked my world while the foundation of the world was rocked.
Common threads across this selection of artists are an exquisite attention to detail, a knack for presenting challenging political issues with depth and satire, and an almost obsessive occupation and mastery of their materials.
I wrote this post several weeks ago, before Covid-19 was a worldwide pandemic. The topic parallels the spirit of Spring regeneration, so I was waiting for my March newsletter to publish it. Over the past week, as the threat of the virus loomed large, I questioned the timing of publishing a post like this when so many other matters at hand seem more pressing.
I have decided that a little “business as usual” on a topic that is not tied to overwhelmed hospitals, quarantines, and food/supply shortages in stores may be a welcome distraction. It’s not meant to dismiss the seriousness of our collective situation, but to offer some lighter mental fare amid the sobering news and social media updates.Please enjoy and stay safe and healthy.
I’ve been using my ramped up studio hours as an excuse to let the admin side of my practice slide. It’s reasonable considering I’m on a very tight production deadline, but I also know when I’m starting to use studio time to avoid other tasks.
The time is drawing near for me to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) and work out word-wise what the current series is about; soon the gallery will need to have images and a statement for promotional purposes on their website. I’ve had this task on my to-do list for two months. Not surprising, my studio production in the last two months has been AHHH-MAZING.
So, because I haven’t written a blog post in a while, and because I love me some efficiency, I thought I’d combine tasks and write down some thoughts about the One of Us series and share them in an article here.