Process and Progress

I have managed to carve out about 2-3 hours each week for arting and art adjacent purposes. That’s an infinitesimal amount of time compared to previous epochs of my life. Almost non-existent to be truthful. But I’m still really proud of myself that I’ve found that time and that I’ve been able to maintain it most weeks. Because it’s fucking hard. I never know from day to day (some times even from hour to hour) how I’m going to feel, and I never know what else the day is going to throw at me. Train delay? Contrary toddler? Late leaving work because I had to put out a metaphorical fire? Have yet another doctors appointment (I have been to the doctor’s literally once a week every week for the last month, with at least another two weeks ahead of me 😤)? They all happen. All. The. Damn. Time.

When I initially started to play around with this set of images, I was concerned that I would lose my place. That, since there were such big gaps in time where I wasn’t working on them, wasn’t thinking about them, I would never “figure it out.” I was scared that I was never going to progress on them. And you know what? Yeah, I DO forget things. I sometimes repeat the same experiment on an image file or print, only to remember half way through that I’ve already done this. Or I find that I can’t always rely on my notes to myself to help keep my place. They’re unclear, contain too little information, or I just straight up can’t read my own damn handwriting. And yeah, it does take me forever to make even the most incremental progress, but it’s still more than I could have anticipated. I’m counting it as a win that I’m still working on them six months later.

Most importantly though, in the time I’ve been slowly crawling forward on this series, I’ve learned that I never know what is going to come out of the printer at the very end anyway. Regardless of how meticulously and specifically I have edited the digital files. Regardless of how methodically I approach the file in the hex editor. Regardless of what the final image looks like on screen when I send it to print (True story… Some of my images are so damaged by the time I get to the print phase that what the screen shows me isn’t actually the information the printer gets 😂). And of course, there’s always the variable of the printer itself. The trusty old 9880 and 9900 I’m printing on have some head issues that lend me even more unpredictability.

Somehow though, working this way hasn’t brought me the expected anxiety and insecurity I’ve come to expect from everything I do. Somehow it’s actually been relaxing and therapeutic to do it this way. It means that no matter how many notes I take and how methodically I approach the creation of each image, I ultimately don’t know what the fuck is going to happen. So then it doesn’t really matter so much if I’m having trouble thinking or focusing on a particular day, or if I’m not being as detailed as I should be in the process. It means that if I’m having an off day physically or cognitively, it’s not going to impact the work in a negative mannner. That’s so very encouraging to me. It gives me such freedom to work at my own pace, in my own way. It has also forced me to slow waaaaay down and focus on right now, as opposed to what might be next. Which, let’s be honest, has always been a downfall of mine. 🤫


Sundays in our house are days of cooking. Sundays, all the food for the upcoming week is prepped and prepared. This is a task that is mainly my responsibility, but Matthew helps when and if I ask, and of course the Noodle “helps” whenever he feels like standing in his Learning Tower long enough to make a mess.

This Sunday practice (tradition?) comes from long before I had a kid though. And from before I met Matthew even. Back during my first year of grad school I fell into doing meal prep, because I couldn’t afford to eat out much (if at all), and if I wasn’t doing the cooking, no one else was. Eventually it developed into full on meal planning, grocery shopping, batch cooking, weekly event. It’s been 6 or 7 years running now.

Understandably, this practice has become more challenging after the arrival of the kiddo, but it has been my health that has impacted the ritual the most. Whereas in the past I found this tradition really refreshing and invigorating, I found myself completely exhausted and overwhelmed by the prospect. I started to hate it. Not only did it take the obvious physical toll, but believe it or not, the mental strain was also pretty intense. So things had to change. Grocery shopping was moved to Saturday mornings, simpler recipes were selected, fewer “extras” were made, naps were added in to the mix, everything else was removed. A leaner, meaner version of Sundays evolved.

It would obviously be very easy to just give this practice of mine up. To either do carry-out, prepared foods, or prepackaged meals the majority of the time. To attempt to do “30-Minute Meals” each evening when we got home. Sure. I could. Might my life be a teeny tiny bit easier? Possibly. Would my stubborn little heart rebel at that level of privilege (and waste), when I can still very much recall times in the recent past when I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my next meal? For certain.

My stubborness aside though, this ritual is important enough to me to continue because it is a routine. I can count on it. Every. Single. Sunday. With my health and it’s associated cognitive problems, routines are important. Predictability is crucial, and the rest of my life? Not so routine. My work schedule changes every day, as do my duties and efforts there. The way that I feel can wildly vary from day to day. Also, Toddler. Doing this one thing (albeit a big thing) gives me one definite check point in my week. It gives me some security and sanity, when I often feel as though I am juuuuuust barely keeping my head above water.

And so, The Kitchen and The Kid finds it’s way back to it’s point of origin, the kitchen. Which is undoubtably the center of my home. AGES ago I brought home the large canvas test prints I made. They wound up thrown on the floor of my studio, right in front of my desk, when I cleaned the apartment about a month ago. Matthew asked me if that didn’t worry me… My knee jerk reaction was neatly roll them up and tuck them away somewhere, to protect them. But then I thought about it, and I actually didn’t care that they were on the floor and that I might step on them. And more to the point, hadn’t I brought these prints home so that I could live with them, and look at them, for awhile? Yes, that’s why I brought them home. Why ignore them? Then a few weeks ago as I was gearing up for Sunday cooking, the idea struck me to put one of them down on the floor of the kitchen where I would be spending the day. Where everyone will walk over, spill on, and generally fuck up, the print. And there it has stayed. How long, I don’t know, but I like seeing it every day, and I’m curious to see what affect life will have on the work.

The Struggle Bus (Or the post in which I basically complain about everything)

I am so completely on the struggle bus lately.  My anxiety has never been so high, physically, my body is a disaster, and there is just not enough time for anything.

I’m really having a hard time finding my footing lately.  So many hormones post birth, so many trials and tribulations attempting to breastfeed my little dude, lack of any forward progress (much less any significant amount of time spent) on my artistic career, being diagnosed with not one, but two auto-immune conditions (Rheumatoid arthritis, which was expected but perhaps not so young, and Lupus, which came the fuck out of left field), zero physical activity, an exhausting commute schedule, and a number of large changes pending at work…  I don’t know how to balance it all out much less make time for myself.

And then a day like today happens, and I feel like I’m literally going to fall to pieces if anything else hits me.  What happened today?  Well, I guess nothing really… Except it kind of did, because it was more of the same and then some.  All those little anxiety building blocks, plus some over the top moments that have just put me on the absolute edge.

To start the day off right, the baby woke up at 330 and kind of nursed for like 30 minutes, but neither of us got back to sleep, so finally at 4, I got up with him.  He wanted to cuddle, but only if he could wiggle all over the place.  Which was fun, given that in the morning I have a really hard time gripping things and moving in general (Thanks, autoimmune system!).  He screamed all through his diaper change and getting him dressed.  He wiggled and hit all through being rocked and playing.  He fussed all through breakfast, until I gave him orange segments, only then he got pissed when we had to wipe him down because he was covered in sticky orange.  Oh, and then got mad when we had to change his diaper and outfit because he was a pee pants.  So basically (admitting to being a bad mom here), he was on my last nerve this morning when Matthew left to take him to the sitters.  However, at the same time, I understood why he was being difficult… he’s cutting FOUR teeth at once right now.  Four. FOUR.  FUCKING. TEETH.  And comparatively speaking, he’s taking it like a champ.  From what I understand, this could be so much worse.  It’s just that given my health struggles right now, and our commute schedule, loosing an hour of sleep really kind of fucks me up.

Then I went to work, where I spent the morning mostly OK, but in a state of low level anxiety, because I feel like when I’m at work, I should be with the baby, and when I’m with the baby, I should be making art, and when I’m making art… You get the point.  I’ve been anxious a lot lately about my lack of productivity in the studio, but it really kicked into overdrive last week when I went to get my haircut at a new place, and the stylist was like “Oh! You’re an artist?  Give me your instagram, because we’re a gallery too!”  And I was like…. [insert blank stare here].  Because I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d posted my work on instagram, let alone even posted on there.  I also haven’t shown in quite some time.  So that’s awesome.  But at the same time, it’s lit a little bit of a fire under my ass.  Art.  I need to Art.  Especially if I ever want to leave my current job and get a teaching job.  Which I wold very much like to do.  Because I miss teaching.  But that’s a panic attack for another day.

Anyway… I was handling my art/time anxiety OK this morning because my oh-so-amazing partner gave me the night off, (No need to head straight home or to pick up the kid after work! No household chores! No distractions! Perhaps some wine as I sit and work on my own, someplace that isn’t home!) so I had a semi-leisurely evening of arting/writing to look forward to.  Don’t get me wrong.  I was feeling a bit guilty for ditching the kid and the partner, but to be honest, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had any alone time, much less the last time I had been able to work totally uninterrupted for more than 15 minutes.  Sometimes you just need to be by yourself, with your headphones on, ignoring everything, and drinking anything in reach.

However as I was sitting down to eat my lunch and do my second pump of the day… I spilt the majority of my first pump.  All over myself.  I almost burst into tears right then and there.  To once again back track, since day one of breastfeeding, I’ve had a VERY low milk supply.  We’re thinking now that it’s due to the lupus (because I have exhausted literally every other possibility of an explanation), and for the most part, I’ve made peace with it.  As such, breastfeeding has been really hard.  If I’m lucky, on an extremely good day, I pump an entire 6 ounces of milk.  To put that in perspective, my kid takes anywhere between 30 and 40 ounces of milk a day.  So those 6 ounces are really hard fought.  Every drop counts for me.  So loosing Half… well that just fucking sucks.  It makes me feel even more terrible about the little milk I do make.

As I’m cleaning up THAT mess, an email bings into my work inbox.  Let’s be honest here, most of the emails I get at work are totally pointless and unrelated to me, so I almost didn’t read it before deleting it.  Except that I did, and thank goodness, because this one was actually pertinent.  It was informing me that my insurance premiums for next year would be going up.  Considerably.  Considerably considerably.  Thank goodness I’m health… Oh wait.  That’s right, not only do I have rheumatoid arthritis, I have lupus.  FUCKING LUPUS.  So that’s cool that managing that is going to be even more expensive next year. Yay!

Whilst I’m processing the insurance news and still experiencing wet crotch from the milk spill, my mom calls me.  This is quite unexpected, but I figure it’s going to be some minor detail or bit of info about her upcoming visit over easter.  I almost don’t answer.  But I do.  (When the fuck will I learn?)  My uncle, her brother-in-law, has died.  Like, 30 minutes prior.  I don’t even know what to say.  Because I’m terrible in those types of situations.  Not because I don’t care, but because I actually hurt for those directly impacted, and there’s nothing that I can think of saying that isn’t either a) an empty, meaningless platitude, or b) a tasteless, awkward joke (because that’s how I cope).  So, I just say “Tell Aunt Karen I’m sorry, I’ll talk to you later.”

At this point in my day, I still have like another four hours left of work and I literally cannot calm myself down.  It’s all I can do to keep myself from shooting laser beams out of my eyes at students, and melting them before they can reach me.  I.  Just.  Can’t.  The anxiety has hit fever pitch and I want to cry and scream.  I need to make art, but I also need to take care of people.  I want a drink, but know that I should really just find a therapist instead.  You know,  par for my anxiety course.

Now, to be perfectly honest and upfront, the uncle who passed, was not a particularly close relative.  It had been a number of years since I’d seen him, and I didn’t spend a lot of time with him growing up.  Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that its terrible that some one has died, and that should always be marked with respect.  However I’m quite fond of his son (my cousin), and I keep up with him on Facebook.  And I know he’s been on the struggle bus lately, perhaps just as hard, if not harder than I have been.  So my upset at the passing of my uncle has more to do with my concern for my cousin and having a great deal of empathy for his current situation.  And that puts my current struggle bus experience into perspective.  It doesn’t lessen it, but it helps me remember, we’ve all got our shit, and we will all survive.  So yeah.

That was my day… How was yours?







I initially wrote this yesterday (July 6th), with the intent of posting it after I got home from work, but life got in the way and I figured it could wait until this morning.  Then I woke up to the news that another man had been shot, and it literally changes nothing about what I wrote.  Sickly it applies whether I am reacting to Tuesday’s violence, or to the violence that took place yesterday night.  What the actual fuck…

To all my friends who must deal with the very real possibility of police violence or systemic oppression, for whatever reason, I stand in awe of your strength and resilience, and appreciate everything you’ve ever taught or shared with me. I’m just a white girl from the suburbs who wants to help make the world a better place, so keep it coming. ❤

I’m sitting in the office of my relatively cushy job at a private college.  A liberal arts college.  I work with art and photography students.  The most stressful part of my job is dealing with entitled, whiney students, or the occasional high maintenance faculty member.  I have a high school diploma and two college degrees. Both in the visual arts.  I grew up in Ohio, in a middle class family with both of my parents present.  We had a split level ranch house, multiple cars, and a dog.  I had my own bike, and for at least junior high and high school, my own room.  I got to participate in extra-curricular activities, my dad took us to the library, we occasionally went on vacations.

I currently live in a predominately black and latinx neighborhood in Chicago (one of America’s most segregated cities, by the way).  I chose to live in this neighborhood.  I love living there.  But then again,  I do not have to fear walking past a police cruiser while wearing a hoodie, or seeing police walking toward me on my street as I head home from the train at night.  Because it is far more likely that they will smile and say hello to me, than immediately assume me to be any kind of problem or threat.  In fact, the sad truth is that if I were to initiate a violent altercation with a black individual in my neighborhood, and the police were to arrive, it’s odds on that the police would jump in and attempt to protect me, over my victim.  Because I am white.

The color of my skin has never been a danger or barrier to me in my entire life…

I am a cis-gendered woman in a committed relationship with a lovely gentleman, also from a middle-class, white, suburban background.  I have never had to struggle with my identity in that respect.  Nor have I ever had to face ignorance or intolerance from those around me because I didn’t fit into the traditional gender binary or because I love someone whose sex is the same as my own.  I will never be questioned about my ability to parent my impending child simply because it would have two mothers or two fathers, as opposed to the “normal” conception, one of each.  I will never have to fight to even have the right to conceive or adopt a child…

My life, while occasionally “a struggle” or “difficult”, has been no harder than the average person’s.  I might even argue it’s been easier.  I say all of this not to brag, but to acknowledge the advantages and privilege in which my life functions.  Simply through luck of the draw I have found myself a beneficiary of all things white, suburban, middle class, and hetero.   Oh, and we might as well throw western in there too.  Because my family certainly didn’t originate from anywhere but Europe, and has been in the states for several generations now.  Except the Irish part… They didn’t like it here and went back to Ireland.  I didn’t choose to be these things, but they are part of my identity.  I do not allow all of those facts to blind me however.  I try very hard to look at the world critically, to learn and open myself up to that which I am not.  I want to experience and appreciate the diversity that exists in this world.

So, I’m sitting here in my office, reading the news of the day.  Another black man has been shot by two police officers.  Once again, it has happened under some very violent and questionable circumstances.  Yet another ignorant/hateful/racist/unnecessarily violent act has been perpetrated upon a fellow citizen.  And I want to weep.  My inner 3 year old wants to stomp her foot and scream about how unfair this all is.  She just wants people to see one another as people and go play in the sand box.  She doesn’t understand why everyone can’t be nice to one another.  My actual 32 year old self feels shattered into a million pieces as I think about all of my friends of color and all of my friends in the LGBTQ+ community, because I know that in the here and now, they will never be able to feel safe.  They will always fear for themselves and their loved ones, because someone may decide to hurt them based on a stupid, superficial reason, like the color of their skin, or who they just kissed, or perhaps even the god in which they believe.  And more than likely the perpetrator will get away with it.  I want to offer words of comfort and support, not only my friends, but the world at large.  But I feel so incapable, and so, so unqualified to do so.  Mind you, my feelings on this are nothing compared to theirs.  Absolutely nothing.

I feel so much rage and disbelief, and I want to force people to see things the way I do.  To forcefully rip out their ignorant and hurtful opinions and behaviors, to replace them with kindness and acceptance.  How is it that these things are still happening?!  How have we not learned our lessons yet?  More over, I cannot wrap my mind around the idea that there are still people out there defending the actions of the police, while demonizing any person of color that is shot by the police.  That they will dig up,  produce, or misinterpret statistics in order to demonstrate how many more whites suffer from violent deaths at the hands of people of color or the police, or how its actually more common for black men to get shot because its more common for them to perform a crime.  That there are still people who straight up believe that anyone who isn’t white is less.  I cannot comprehend that there are people out there barging into women’s restrooms and attacking women (based entirely upon they way they are dressed, or manner in which their hair is styled), assuming they are transgendered and using the “wrong” restroom, then claiming they are protecting children and other women in said bathrooms from attack.  That these people refuse to acknowledge the fact that it is far more likely for transgendered individuals to be attacked while going to the bathroom than for them to be the attacker.  It’s disgusting to me that these people shout white pride or want a straight pride month.  I hate that it’s those people who co-opt the #blacklivesmatter, #queerlivesmatter, or #muslimlivesmatter hashtags and try to say #alllivesmatter.  (Let’s just leave aside the often empty gestures of social media activism because I just don’t have the emotional energy right now to enter into that conversation.)

Yes.  All lives do matter, and I wish the hashtag could just be #humanity.  But.  But the reason we need those specific movements, and to say those specific words, the reason we need to point out that they matter is because all lives DO NOT yet matter.  In actual, active practice, these lives mean so much less to white America.  The fact of it is that POCs, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and really ANY minority in this country, are still discriminated against on a regular basis.  They still have to hear politicians talk about how they’re  “thugs” or “rapists,” or that they’re “stealing our jobs.”  They’re accused of being terrorists just because they have a vaguely Islamic sounding name or look to them. They have laws being foisted upon them forcing them to use the inappropriate bathroom, or telling them who they may or may not marry. These lives cannot walk out on the street, or see a police officer without looking back over their shoulder, paranoid that they may be attacked or “restrained” for no damn good reason.

Do I know exactly what happened in any of the situations that have been plastered across the headlines in the last several years?  Was I there?  Can I speak from experience?  No, no, and no.  But that shouldn’t matter.  As a human being, all I know, and all I see, is that people are being hurt, people are dying, people are terrified, horrified, saddened…  And while none of this directly impacts me in my day to day life, and I have the luxury of choosing to step away or ignore it, I cannot, because it MUST stop.  All of this violence, all of this hate, it may not be directed at me, but I feel it with every headline, and I witness the pain it brings others.  To the best of my abilities, I empathize with these communities and seek to effect change so that it may stop, so that my fellow humans can stop hurting, stop fearing.  That is my job as a fellow human, is it not?  It should make us all want to effect change.  It should make us question what we understand to be “normal” and “right.”  It should make us challenge the status quo of police behavior or religious practices… of our own set of beliefs.  It should make us more cognizant of the micro- aggressions that we ourselves perpetuate, or witness happening around us.  If we truly want all lives to matter, then seeing this hurt, despair, and pain, should make us all step up and be advocates for anyone who is systematically discriminated against.  We should, actively, in practice, make all lives matter, not passively stand by and shake our heads at how sad these events are, then change our Facebook profile pics to show our “solidarity” for, or send our prayers to, victims of this oppression.  Instead of hashtags and empty gestures, we need to exemplify our humanity and supposed belief in equality through our daily actions and words.

I don’t know that I have any profound suggestions for helping these changes occur.  Like I said before I feel very unqualified and unequipped to even offer comfort and support, however I feel that I cannot just stand on the sidelines and hope that things will eventually improve.  I can listen and hear what the individuals in these communities have to say about their own circumstances and experiences.  They are, after all the experts on their lives and deserve to be heard and respected, not talked over or dismissed.  I can offer my assistance within these communities, in a manner that they deem fit and appropriate.  I am not there to be a savior, but to be an ally, advocate, accomplice, and friend.  I should be there assisting them to fulfill their needs, not my own.  I can stand up to those in my daily sphere who are perpetuating racist/homophobic/intolerant/ignorant/privileged behaviors and mindsets.  Respectfully, I can challenge and ask them to reconsider their actions.  Am I an expert on all things race/sex/gender/religion/etc related?  Fuck no, but at least I can say “Hey, don’t use that racial slur!” or “No, I’m sorry that statement you just made is factually inaccurate, please do not continue to repeat it.” or, “You know, what you just said to me was incredibly sexist because…” or even “If you are going to say offensive, ignorant, or insulting things around me, then I would prefer not to interact with you anymore.”   I can challenge my own daily assumptions and unconscious biases or accept challenges, with out hostility, from others that force me out of my comfort zone and beg me to question those biases or assumptions.

I don’t know if any of these things are enough, or if they carry any weight or meaning… But at very least, they are things that everyone can implement in their daily lives in order to help promote tolerance and empathy.

My partner and I are about to become parents.  It makes me so sick that this hatred, ignorance, and discrimination are things that my child will have no choice but to inherit from the world.  It also makes me sick, that just because my kid is going to be the offspring of two fairly well educated white people, it will experience a certain amount of privilege over, and possibly at the expense of, many many others just as deserving (or far more deserving).  Beyond the 3 year old assessment of “not fair,” that privilege and many people’s resultant behavior, simply isn’t right.  It isn’t just. It isn’t moral.  And while I would gladly give up my privilege, or my kid’s privilege just so that one more marginalized individual wouldn’t have to face systemic discrimination, I know that’s not how it works.  I know that desire is silly and naive.  Instead, one last thing I can hope to do, is to make my kid aware of the privilege they have, instill social awareness, and a desire for justice.




If it’s inaccessible to the poor it’s neither radical nor revolutionary.


Bear with me, this is going to be rambling and probably pointless.

I’m not exactly an avid Facebooker.  I tend to use it more as a news conduit and to keep tabs on/in communication with friends and family I don’t get to see on a regular basis.  I find the obnoxious over-sharing and stupid meme trading really annoying and totally overstimulating.  Especially given that people tend to share things with out checking it’s validity or ensuring it comes from a trusted source.  It’s just not my style.  Anyway, this afternoon I happened to see something that a former colleague from grad school had “reacted” to (why I see their reactions, I have no idea), which ironically ties into something my last post was talking about, which I had totally forgotten I’d even written.  The reaction was to an image of a banner that simply read:

“If it’s inaccessible to the poor it’s neither radical nor revolutionary.”

Now, I have no idea where this image originated, or the context in which it was shared and then reacted to on Facebook.  But it hit a nerve for me.  I’ve been thinking about privilege and access a lot lately, it’s difficult not to.  From watching the current presidential race unfold, to seeing the effects of the current economy on those who were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth, to the absurd and disturbing fight over transgender rights and sexuality… The (mainly rich, white) privileged seem to be desperately grasping for any control or supremacy they can maintain, and society as a whole seems to be trying to stand up against it and call that privilege into question.  It also comes up in my personal life as I consider things like paying for childcare, the ability to be a stay-at-home parent, and as it relates to my own artistic practice…

As I mentioned in my previous post, the ability to access and view art comes is made possible by a certain amount of privilege.  Fuck man, just making art can be a bit of a privilege (for which I realize, many artists fight).  And that upsets me.  I believe that artists should work to impact the world around them and to create experiences for their viewers.  For their art to be seen and shared.  Instead, I think that often times we work toward finding a place in a gallery’s stable of artists where our work can be shown, bought, collected, but those who have the money and access to go to galleries/museums/etc.  Why are we making work if it’s not going to be accessible to the entire population?  Why should our work only be available to a privileged few?  Why do we continue to work within and perpetuate this stupid, outdated paradigm?  Is it really the money?  Or perhaps the potential for fame?   Personally, I don’t want to make art that everyone can’t access, I could care less about actually making money off of my art (I have literally only ever sold a single print in my entire career thus far), and I hate attending my own openings because of social anxiety and introversion.  These are sincerely things that I don’t understand, and ask from a place of curiosity, with a desire for discussion on the matter.

I struggle, though, with ways of getting my art “out there” and “building my resume”, so that one day in the semi-near future, when it comes time to go on the job market again, I can show I have been pursuing my practice and I would be a worthwhile addition to a faculty somewhere.  I struggle with the knowledge that the vast majority of my work is not well suited for many galleries, museums, or art centers, and try to compensate by creating small bodies of work that can fit in those confines.  For instance, I’ve spent the last few months working on a series of photographic images that are totally abstract and inoffensive visually.  The only context or content is provided by what I say about them in an artist statement.  Just so that I might get another line on my resume.  And for every two or three applications I send out using that body of work, I send out another two or three of my other, more performative or conceptual work.  Guess which applications are more likely to receive acceptance?  What am I even supposed to do with that?  In my mind, it’s ultimately an empty gesture because I’m making something I don’t fully feel invested in and so exhibiting it is pointless, and that’s on top of the fact I know perfectly well that I’m producing work that will only be available for viewing by those privileged enough to visit said gallery/museum/center.

Then I think about when I do performance or video work out in public, leaving behind the context of the art work or the white cube.  Sure there are individuals out there who will appreciate it as art, smiling as they walk by, or nodding and saying “Right on” when they can relate.  But there are also many people who will be completely turned off by it, because they cannot relate to where I come from, to my privilege as a college educated visual artist, a cog in the wheel of academia, as a white woman from the upper middle class suburbs.  I can pull source material from Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things To Me because I think her writing is beautiful and witty and valuable all I want, but again it becomes an empty gesture if no one understands the reference, is aware of Solnit’s work, or makes the connections I’m trying to facilitate about gender and society.  It’s not everyone who has time to even acknowledge that gender inequality still exists in a major way, let alone contemplate the impact that has on society at large, and their personal lives in particular.

Even my contention that having art online makes it readily available to any one who wishes to view it is still premised on the privileges of having both access to a computer and access to the internet.  Despite the fact that I often felt at times that I was one of the last people in the world to have internet connected in my own home, that is categorically untrue.  And I have had the benefit of having regular access to some sort of computer nearly my entire life.  This is not the case for everyone.

So then where does that leave me?  I can be as radical  or alternative in my practice as I want, but does it mean anything if it’s inaccessible to the majority of the population, the very audience I want for my work?  Is it possible to create those experiences and effect that change I so desire if privilege blocks the audience?

Regardless of the answers to my own personal struggles here, I think its worthwhile to keep this idea of access and privilege in mind.  You can decry the evils of vaccinations and feel like you are challenging the status quo and big pharma and helping to open society’s eyes to the dangers of vaccines all you want.  But that view is not so revolutionary outside of your own context of the privilege to turn down what others would give anything to provide their children with.  You can rage against the machine about GMOs and organic foods and how that’s all we should eat, but you don’t live in a food desert where all you can find are sodas and pre-packaged foods at the corner 7-11.  You can  bitch about Uber surge pricing ’til the cows come home, but you still have a smart phone and ultimately the means to get around while there are others who must beg rides from friends and family or walk, all relying on increasingly nonexistent pay phones, phone calls “borrowed” from who ever is around, or even a pay-as-you-go flip phone…  We just all need to stop for a moment and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes in order to consider the fact that reality exists outside of our own little bubbles.

I don’t know what my point here is or that I’ve actually said anything of substance, but yeah… Privilege and access.


A Rant (In Two Parts)

Rant:  Part I (In Which I Think Deep Thoughts About Art, Art Ownership, and the Institution, Then Get Sidetracked)

I’ve been reading a book called Ways of Looking:  How to Experience Contemporary Art by Ossian Ward.  It is a bit of a beginner’s guide to looking at contemporary art, which I picked up with the idea that  it might be useful for teaching younger kids or non-art folk about contemporary art.  Yes.  I am that nerd that thinks about pedagogy and teaching ALL the time.  It’s a pretty basic read, but interesting.  Anyway, it dredged up a few thoughts that have been kicking around in my head for awhile and got me thinking about them again.

Urs Fischer, You, 2007 Not my image!

The premise of this book, is that it breaks down contemporary art into “Art as” sections to be decoded using the author’s TABULA Rasa formula (Time, Association, Background, Understand, Look again, Assessment).  These “Art as” sections include:  Art as Entertainment, Art as Joke, Art as Message, etc.  The last two chapters are Art as Spectacle and Art as Meditation, which I was reading on the train on my way into work this morning.   Toward the end of the Art as Spectacle chapter the author discusses Urs Fischer’s You, and writes:

“Resembling a battlefield or a construction pit rather than an exhibition, Fischer’s destructive, anti-artistic statement was not only an assault on the senses—involving as it did a precipitous 8-foot drop and the risk of serious injury—but it was also an attack on the very structures that support and validate art itself (it was nevertheless sold to a foundation for excavation at a later date at some other location).

At which point I literally wanted to stand up on the train and flip a table.  It just seems so ridiculous to me that this piece was bought by a foundation to be moved from it’s context, making it even less accessible. It actually made me angry. Because let’s face it, there is a certain amount of privilege involved in being able to visit (access) a museum, gallery, foundation, or other arts institution.  But also, I really HATE the idea of ownership when it comes to art (especially when it comes to something so ephemeral and site-specific).  I want everyone to have access to art all the time.  I don’t think you should have to pay to see something that is culturally relevant, or interesting, or thought provoking, or just plain fucking beautiful (although I could personally not care less about that particular criterion). And I think art objects are stupid.  It upsets me that these are things which artists have poured themselves into, and they are hoarded away by private collectors or museums, only to see the light of day occasionally.  Art isn’t about just looking/seeing.  But I’ll get to that rant in a second.

The author continues his bit about You, referencing the writings of Robert Smithson (of Spiral Jetty fame).  Smithson was a leading figure in moving art outside of the gallery, and helped to develop the Land Art movement of the 70’s.  At one point he wrote that museums are just graveyards above ground.  And, regardless of the context in which Smithson said/wrote that, or the context in which Ward is theoretically linking it to You, I really am starting to believe it’s true in a very literal sense.  Museums are places that art goes to die.  Art no longer exists as it was originally envisioned once it’s consigned to a collection, where it is restored, or stored, or academicized.  It becomes part of a hushed atmosphere, in which you are supposed to take everything very seriously, study the beauty of the “masters” (which, fuck that noise), and learn something.  These randomly selected objects are placed onto white walls and white pedestals to be admired and revered (from a distance), because someone employed by the museum said that they should be.  Aside from the usual rhetoric over who gets to decide what is art, what isn’t, and what should be displayed/preserved, it’s a stupid, stupid system.  And sure, there are museums, or exhibitions out there that challenge this status quo, but not enough.  The majority of them do not.  The majority of them are the white cube-didactic-no-touching model.

This makes me think of the Futurist Manifesto (because really, it’s never far from my mind), and the Futurist’s desire to destroy all museums/libraries/academies etc, because they viewed them as antiquated and therefore an impediment to the progress of the future. Sometimes, I think they weren’t far from wrong (aside from their somewhat blatant misogyny and general delight at war).  We have created these repositories of things that we are told to revere.  I can easily question and challenge it because I have the theoretical knowledge and art back ground, but the average person does not.  They take it to heart.  We cling onto these things, as if they truly are the end all and be all of beauty, or whatever the hell it is that we are looking for in art.  We uphold the past, and scorn the contemporary (Thats why books like Ways of Looking are written…).  It’s almost like we want to hold ourselves back.

My ponderings on art ownership, objects, and destroying museums also started me thinking about the other forms of art that we accumulate and store.  For instance, why am I OK with collecting outrageous numbers of books, of which many are works of fiction, and therefore art?  I LOVE books.  I learn things from them, I escape every day life with them, they are magical objects to me, and are tied into happy childhood memories.  But still, they are art.  So why can I support ownership of those and not works of visual art?  Is there any difference?  Perhaps it bothers me less because there are often thousands, if not millions of the same copy of my book floating around?  Because anyone can go to the library, find that book, and read it for free (Unrestricted access)?  And libraries are depositories of ALL books, not just some.  I realize not every library will have every book, but they don’t actively seek to curate their patron’s visit by limiting their selection, to say the 200s (Religion) in the Dewy Decimal System.  Or perhaps they do, and I am just unawares.

And what about music?  I’ve never been one to obsessively collect albums.  I’m perfectly content to turn on Spotify/Pandora/insert-other-internet-radio-here and listen.  I don’t need to own it.  But there are some who make it a priority in their lives.  And in some weird, conceptual way I find it more acceptable to collect that form of art.  Again, perhaps it’s because theoretically anyone has access to this art form, and there are millions of copies laying around.  Perhaps because someone else could then learn that piece of music and play it for themselves (or others), whether it be in a replication of the original, or in a new interpretation.  Its tough.  And I’m not sure I can justify my ability to accept owning those art forms but not others… Maybe I just need to give up my book collection.  *insert wide eyed emoji here*

Rant:  Part 2 (In Which I Get Back on Track, and Rage at the Consumption of Art)


I don’t think I really need to caption this very obvious wealth of information.


The other side of the issue of owning art and locking it away, is that we also treat it like a commodity to be consumed.  We pack large rooms and entire buildings with vast collections of “precious” art objects for people to pay to see.  Often times these collections are so enormous, it could take you days if not weeks to view just what was on display.  For instance, according to CNN, it would take you SIXTY-FOUR DAYS to see everything in the Louvre if you only looked at everything for SIXTY SECONDS.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Sixty-four entire days, looking at roughly 35,000 works of art for exactly sixty seconds each.  Forget actually studying, appreciating, or processing a work.  And that is only what they have on display at any given time.  Their entire permanent collection is around 460,000 objects (You do the math on that one).  So it’s no wonder that with museums like MOMA in New York charging upwards of $25 or more for an individual admission to just the permanent collection, people are going to want to get their money’s worth.  They are going to rush through, trying to take in as much as possible (which is the  worst possible way to view art), making it  into a sort of scavenger hunt to find the most famous, or popular works of art.  All so that they don’t feel gypped, so that they can say they saw the Mona Lisa, and of course, so that they can snap a selfie.  What. The. Fuck. World?  It’s so angering.

Art is not meant to be consumed like that.  It’s meant to be experienced.  It’s meant to leave us thinking, in awe, or some how impacted.  The final chapter of Ward’s book is Art as Meditation, which address works of art that require time for reflection and processing.  He writes that some artworks need contemplation and a sort of extended digestion.  I would argue that this is every work of art, because art can change in meaning over time for you, depending on any number of variables… Circumstances, experiences, knowledge, relationships.  All of which are dynamic, and subject to change in and of themselves.  Ward continues this line of thought, saying:

These shifts in perception or changes of heart require time.  They need time to reveal themselves, to create an atmosphere, to warp the here and now, and –maybe– to formulate a new universe… This kind of contemplative situation, or ‘Art as Meditation,’ as I’ve called it, is not about conceptual art, or anything necessarily related to the 1960’s Conceptual art movement (with a capital C).  Nor is it about seeing something that isn’t there or posing more thoughts that can only live in your head.  It relates to the ability to better appreciate or more deeply engage with a work of art without succumbing to the bite-sized nibbles of culture offered elsewhere or having our heads turned this way or that by any number of other tempting distractions.”

These are things I’ve been trying to get at in my own work for a few years now.  I want my audience/participants/viewers to have an experience rather than simply look/see/consume what I have to share.  I want their lives to be impacted, for them to think about what they saw for years to come, and for that experience of the work to evolve as they themselves change and grow.  Otherwise, what was the point of making the work in the first place?  Sure, it fulfilled a selfish need of my own to create and express myself, but it doesn’t mean anything until someone else enters into the picture.  Otherwise, why look at art at all?  If you’re only going to spend sixty seconds staring at it, only to move on to the next piece immediately, and instantly forget what you saw just moments before.  Everything then becomes a blur, and nothing sticks.  Nothing makes an impression.  And I’ll have done all this hard work for nothing…

All the ideas…

I realized this week that I might be fighting my own expectations again.  While yes, I’ve been in Chicago for two months, it still might be a little unrealistic of me to expect myself to be totally acclimated and to have built a steady routine and become productive.  (Especially having added a new relationship into the mix.)  It takes time to readjust, to find a solid groove and balance.  I cannot expect myself to have mastered that in such a short period of time.  Realizing that has helped quash some of my anxiety about getting work done in the studio and feeling overwhelmed by my job.  It’s frustrating to me that I still do this to myself… Try to conform to my own unrealistic expectations.  Particularly when it comes to the studio.  I seem to be able to curb it elsewhere in my life, but the studio man… It always sneaks up on me.  The important thing is that I’m trying, and I’m making progress.  Even if it is slow.

Despite the minor anxieties, I really cannot, and should not, complain though.  I am, by leaps and bounds, the happiest and most content I can remember being.  My bills are paid, I have my own apartment, I have a really good (if sometimes frustrating) job that is actually in academia AND pays well, I live in an amazing city with a million opportunities for me, and I’m part of a we with a really fabulous bloke.  I’m actually sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop, but not enough to let it spoil my joy at this moment.  In the last few weeks I have gotten to shoot with an amazing Sigma art lens, learn all kinds of new things about printers, I’ve gotten to see an improv show, explore Chicago’s architecture, FINALLY go apple picking and to a pumpkin patch, eaten all kinds of ethnic foods… I just, I feel very fortunate to have gotten my job and to have things going so well that my anxiety over not making more art, faster, seems really silly.  And I think that’s a good attitude for me to have.

I feel though, that my art thoughtz have been coming pretty fast and hard lately and I haven’t been particularly apt at keeping up with them or making steps to make things.  Never the less it’s exciting that I’m having these ideas.  It’s been awhile since the ideas came so quickly and in any quantity.  It’s almost overwhelming, but in the best of ways.  I’m excited to get my white board up and running in the studio so I can start sorting through and keeping track of my ideas.  That’s something that’s sorely been missing in my practice the last year and a half.  It will also be nice to get all those notes out of my sketchbook and into the computer so that I can collate them with my whiteboarding.  Super duper excited!

I have several ideas that are really vying for my attention right now but I think are a diverse showing of my artistic interests.  Both in terms of media and in terms of concept, and I think it will be interesting to watch them develop.  I’m really kind of curious about an idea that I had just the other night, which I envision as being totally photographic.  Perhaps even a photo book (totally eating crow on that one, if it happens).  I wonder if I’m going to get bored with it as I tend to do with any type of straight photography, and if conceptually, I will feel as if it is accomplishing it’s goal.  I tend to be disappointed by straight photography because I feel a lot of it is:  Photographer takes picture.  Photographer tells you want the picture is about.  OR:  Photographer takes picture.  It is pretty/technically proficient/”compelling”.  There isn’t an experience to be had, there isn’t something to interact with or explore.  Ugh.  Vom.  Super boring (TO ME!  Let me stress that… SUPER BORING TO ME.)  Yes, my Period series was straight photos, but always with the end goal of a massive installation in mind.  (Which!  While I’ve had no traction on finding a place to make that happen, I have decided I want to print life sized stickers and plaster them around town!)

In any event, this idea for a photo series struck me the other night in the shower.  I turned and happened to see a hair on my bathroom tile, which was not mine.  Ok, fine, it must be Matthew’s, since he showers at my place a few times a week.  But somehow that got the random synapses firing as I was finishing my shower.  I started thinking about how I really love living alone, and my place here in Chicago is really the first time in almost 8 years that I’ve actually had a place of my own, by myself.  It reminded me that I was in a romantic relationship for almost 6.5 years, most of which we lived together, and nearly 3 of which we were married.  Our lives were totally linked and wound together on every level.  But then the divorce.  It was like a perfect, sterile break that I truly rejoiced in because I suddenly things were always where I put them last, there were no arguments over how something should be done. Everything was the way I wanted it.  And I embraced that.  But now that Matthew and I are a “we” and he’s at my place and in my space pretty regularly, I think there’s going to be a period of adjustment while I get used to the traces he leaves behind.  Stray hairs discovered on my shower tiles, rumpled blankets, extra pillows on one side of the bed, double the dishes… I want to use imagery to investigate these invited trespasses and my re-acclimation to it.  I also like the parallel (conceptually) between the fact that I really have no idea where our relationship will/is going and the fact that I really have no clue how this whole straight photography thing is going to play out.  We’ll see…

I’ve also really been feeling the need to do some performative work.  I have this idea to attempt to walk a straight line down the sidewalk here in Chicago.  I need some assistance with this one though because in order to film it, I will need someone to babysit the camera while I do the act.  I think I want to try a few different variations of this act.  One that is sort of unapologetic and unwavering, where I do not stray from my course, one where I just stare at the ground as I walk, effectively ignoring any potential collisions, perhaps one where I try to avoid any and all collisions…  Variety might be a good idea.  I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to say with this, but I sort of see some parallels between the act and my anxiety and stubbornness.

The third idea I’m trying to pin down and figure out right now I’m referring to as  Grandmother Spider in my head.  (I needed some kind of working title I guess…)  It’s me reading an essay (Titled, you guessed it! Grandmother Spider.) from Rebecca Solnit’s book Men Explain Things to Me.  It’s essentially an essay about how women are “disappeared” from history and society.  I think this is an especially pertinent issue right now.  Younger generations are rejecting feminism, reproductive rights are under serious attack, and of course there’s this whole thing going on with Hillary Clinton and the Benghazi nonsense.  Basically, women are still not on equal footing.  My thought here, is to record myself reading the essay, then periodically fade my own voice out (so you only see my face/torso), or fade out my physical presence (so you only hear my voice).  I had also thought about having a male read the same essay, with the sound on that channel subtly escalating over my own reading of the essay.  But I’m not sure if the male should read the same essay?  Or perhaps if he only read the parts that pertain to men?  Or changed the genders of what Solnit originally wrote?  I think though that there is something nice about the idea of a cacophony of voices trying to be heard.  Men often talk over women, so its not like it’s a stretch.   There needs to be a visual component that echoes that though…  Perhaps split screen with me on one side and the male on the other?  And his side slowly gets larger and louder?  Not sure, but I like this idea.  It’s simple in terms of execution and the visual, but complex conceptually.  I shot some test footage for this the other day and I plan on looking over it later today.

I’ve got a few other project ideas kicking around that I’ve made varying degrees of progress on, but I think I just need to let them lie right now.  One is Adrift which is the second part of a live performance I did back in May.  It’s supposed to be video and photo documentation that calls the veracity of the performance into question, but I’m not sure how to put the documentation together to get that across.  Also, I always drag my feet when it comes to video editing.  It’s the worst.  I’ve also started what I hope will be a massive photographic installation revolving around the birth control pill, but I started to get really frustrated with the images I was getting.  The pills are so tiny that getting nice, sharp images of them that are well lit is difficult using the gear I have.  But I also don’t want to invest in a single lens or something silly like that JUST for this project.  Besides I really only need a handful of shots to make the entire thing happen.  I’m letting it sit on the back burner right now until I can resolve the best way to capture those images.

Spacey & Dreamy

I’ve been feeling incredibly spacey and dreamy as of late.  It’s been an odd sensation, because there just hasn’t been a time or a reason in my life to be that in the last few years.  I’ve been focused and intent on all things, and there was no space for being slow, or day dreaming.

I’m not sure if this is because I’m tired, I’m smitten, or because I’m still sort of in shock about being in Chicago and being so damn happy.  (I mean really, it’s disgusting how content and happy I am with life right now.)  Or perhaps a combination of all of those things.  I’m still having a rough time adjusting to my “new” schedule… You’d think after almost two months I’d be in the swing of things, but I am not!  Part of it, I think is the constant stimulus and need for processing.  I’m nearly always surrounded by people, whether it’s students at work, or randos on the train home.  But there are always people, there is always noise, there is always SOMETHING vying for my attention.  And for me, that’s a lot.  I get easily overwhelmed by sensory input.  In fact, the only time I am ever alone anymore, is when I’m at home!  (I am increasingly happy about my decision to live by myself for this reason alone.)  Anyway, all of that is exhausting to me, and takes it’s toll physically and mentally.  I also have not allowed myself a moment of down time.  I get up in the morning and go, go, go all day.  My time on the train is spent reading, I work straight through my lunch (because I have no other option right now), I go straight to the gym after work (while reading on the train again!), then I come home and eat dinner while studioing it up.  I didn’t even realized I was doing that to myself until just the other day, when I was like… “Well no wonder you’re burned out by the time you get into the studio at night!”  So I’ve started to allow myself to watch a bit of TV or something equally inane while I eat dinner and decompress from my 12 hour day.  I definitely need that, and so far it seems to be helping.  Even though it cuts in to studio time, I think it evens itself out in the long run.  I’m better able to focus, and am more productive in, say the two hours I have after I eat dinner and watch PowerPuff girls for 45 minutes.  Where as I used to walk in my front door, drop my things in the studio and fire up my computer while I went and warmed up dinner, then ate and tried to work simultaneously.  I would always get distracted, or need to get up and get water, or whatever… So even though I may have gotten an extra hour or two in the studio that way, I wasn’t actually accomplishing anything. And while I’ve been maintaining my typical Sunday schedule of grocery shopping, cooking, chores, and laundry, Friday nights and Saturdays have increasingly been given over to a wonderful gent, with whom I’m quite smitten. So while that is technically down time or time off from the grind of work/career and responsibilities, our time together is exhausting in it’s own way (in the best of ways, of course).

Basically there just need to be more hours in the day, and I need to up my caffeine intake.

Seriously though, I’ve always prided myself on my ability to time manage and prioritize, and I’m starting to feel as though I’m not doing so well at those things right now, despite the fact that nearly every minute of my time is planned and accounted for.  My anxiety about not spending enough time in the studio is growing.  At best I get 2.5 hours in there most nights of the week (well, Monday through Thursday).  I get about 1.5 hours in studio related reading done on the train every day.  And occasionally I’ll get 4 or 5 hours on a Friday night, and maybe a few more on a Sunday after my chores are done.  That’s barely 20 hours a week on arting.  I feel like that’s a really low number.  I’m just terrified that my practice is slowly going to wither away as my life is taken up by my job and my other responsibilities and relationships.  That’s my biggest fear right now… :/  Again, though, I have to remind myself that I can’t do everything all at once.  That it is actually OK to do things slowly, and at what ever pace I can manage.  Otherwise the anxiety starts to win out.  It hits me the worst when I have to run errands around town.  Chicago is such a freaking huge city, and I use public transit to get everywhere, and so sometimes it just takes a really fucking long time to get to where you’re going (Not that owning a car would make it any faster though).  Like, planning and executing a trip to Lowes is it’s own special kind of time and energy suck.  It just takes a lot of effort. So there are times where I have to accept the fact that I’ll be on a bus/train for almost three hours just to get to where I’m going and back.  And I feel like that is lost time, because what am I going to do on the train for 90 minutes?!  I could read, but I still feel unproductive!  I  need to recondition my brain to understand that this is how life works in the city, and that I’m not really wasting time, and that everything will be OK… I just need to get better at managing when I go where.  So I’m not just going out to Lowes for one single thing, or just returning library books, but rather I’m putting errands together, doing things on the way, or need to get multiple things in one far-flung location.  It will be ok.

I just have to keep telling myself that.  And maybe make some art about it.

Still Alive and Kicking (But now in Chicago!)

Fair warning… I have no idea where this is going.

I’ve been absent for well over a year now.  This blog was even hidden from public view for at least six months while I decided what to do with it.  Should I just delete it, and all the art thoughtz that went into it?  Or perhaps just leave it as private permanently?  Should it go public again, and I delete only the things that relate to my professional practice and make this an entirely personal blog?  Should I rename the whole damn thing?  Should I just start over on a new blog?

Yes.  I’ve actually been thinking about these things for over a year.  And, with so many things having changed in my life in that time span, I’ve really been missing this blog, especially the long drawn out art ramblings that always, in some magical way, seemed to clarify my studio adventures.  The Anxiety and the Artist so encapsulates everything I am.  I cannot totally divorce my personal and professional lives, nor can I erase something that documents the changes and growth in my life.

So here we are again.  I find myself with nothing to do on a Sunday, because my normal routine has been disrupted due to some banking issues.  Thus, I finally have the time to do what’s been kicking around in my head for the last month or so.  Start this blog back up.  It’s a good time to do so, and I think an important time to do so as well.

In many ways, the concerns I voiced in my last post are very much in the forefront of my mind, but I feel less… Rushed?  Less like things need to happen NOW?  But also so much more complicated.  Some of that is because I’ve gotten a “real” job and I’ve moved out of Tallahassee.  I feel possibilities now.  I feel like I’m making progress professionally (even if only incrementally).  So now, in some ways, I’m totally content being alone.  I don’t have to worry about anyone’s motives or intentions.  I don’t have to fear the moment where compromises can no longer be made and one or the other has to sacrifice and be resentful, or there is a parting of ways.  I just don’t feel the pressure to try to find a partner any more.

Even more basic than that though, is just the amount of brain space that dating takes up.  When I thought I was going to be spending another year in Tallahassee, I decided back in February that I was over dating.  It just took up so much time, effort, and brain space.  I wanted to cocoon myself in my “studio” (read: bedroom) and make art.  Apply for jobs.  Basically focus.  So I had deleted my dating profiles.

But then, oh but then!  Out of the blue I got a job, moved to Chicago, and was like, well why the fuck not!?  (I still very much maintain the mindset of “Why the fuck not?  What’s the worst that can happen?)  So I started up again.  And I have been enjoying it.  It’s been a great way to start to see the city and meet people.  I get to have sex again (something that was incredibly rare the last six months or so)!  I like feeling the possibility that I can, in fact, connect with another human being.  That I’m not an android, or such an introvert that I want no one around me.

I’m torn though.  It’s been difficult enough to get settled and get the studio (yes, I have a studio again now!) set up.  I keep running into technical difficulties.  The space is currently cluttered with boxes of studio things that I have no place to store right now (and clutter is distracting to me). I’m still having a hard time adjusting to working full time from 8-5 for a full 5 days a week, to commuting 45 minutes each way.  So I’ve not been as productive in the studio as I would like, much less in getting out in to the art community or *shudder* networking.  That’s giving me a certain amount of anxiety, but not unmanageable amounts.  I just have to keep reminding myself that not everything can happen all at once.  And I’ve only been here for a month (as of tomorrow).  Dating is… While not taking away from my practice (because I firmly believe I need to have a life and have fun in order to function as both an artist and a human being), taking up brain space.

At the same time however, every time I hear another friend is pregnant, or I see friends totally content in relationships, I feel like my heart is being ripped out.  I feel a profound sense of sadness.  I want those things just as much as I want to focus.  Just as much as I need to make art.  I feel/hear my clock ticking, obnoxiously so these days.  My body is fucking with me.  My periods now come every three weeks instead of every four.  As if even my ovaries know that I need to get a move on, and so they’re trying to be helpful by speeding up the turn around time or something.  All the while just wasting their time (and my eggs!  Jerks…)  I love the idea of having some one to share my life with.  I crave having the ability to get a hug whenever I need one.  To feel loved…  However, given everything in my life, all of my experiences, and my motivations/plans for the future, I’m not sure that I can even allow that to happen.

As I was unpacking my studio in the new apartment, I came across a hunk of Post-It notes, hastily pulled from the wall in my previous studio *coughbedroomcough* and chucked into a box with my studio desk stuff.  I started unpeeling them from one another and sticking them on the wall that will eventually be the whiteboard in my studio.  And then I came across one that said “I don’t dare allow myself.”

Just let that sink in for a second.  I have no idea when I wrote that, or why I chose to keep it.  But at some point in the last year, that thought crossed my mind, and I jotted it down, stuck it to the wall with all my other Post-It thoughts, and kept it.  I don’t dare allow myself… If I allow myself then compromises have to be made, sacrifices follow, and I find myself in the exact same place I barely made it out of in one piece with my marriage.  If I allow myself, then I might start hoping, I might get expectations, I might start planning, and all of those things will be dashed and I will be hurt and disappointed.

My long and drawn out point here, is that, on some level, I’m not sure I can not allow myself to be enveloped into a relationship with any level of serious commitment, despite my desire for just that.  I think I’m too skeptical and pragmatic at this point in my life to believe that finding someone who can (and will) love me unconditionally, as well as want the same things that I do, and support me in my career, is likely.  I can have fun trying, but I don’t think that it will actually happen. I think that’s where my disinterest in dating comes from… I mean, why waste the brain space?

But still, even though they seem like a pipe dream, I want a committed relationship and a family.  I want stability.  And I don’t know how to get past the skepticism and pragmatism to make it happen though.  To let go a little bit of that control I have in being alone and focusing on me…. I just don’t want to do so at the expense of my professional endeavors.  And that’s a fine line to take.

Agh! Those Personal/Professional Boxes Again!

Hi there!  It’s been an age since I’ve posted here.  A totally inexcusable lapse on my part, but I hope you’ll forgive me… This blog had to be placed extremely low on my priorities list in the last 6 months.  So low that it stop existing.  Sorry about that.  I promise I will be a better blogger in the future.  Would it make you feel better if I told you that I’ve been trying to write this post for going on 3 months now?  No?  Well, it was worth a shot…

From here on out however, this blog is going to be much less about studio happenings, and more about the personal side of my artings and life.  Never fear, there will still be studio updates… They’re just going to be taking place over at a blog hosted on my professional website.  While my life does inform my work a great deal, I’m making an effort to separate my personal and professional life as much as possible… You know,  job hunting and such might be hindered by a blog about what an anxiety ridden person I am.  Or potential employers discovering how incompetent I really am…

Of course, a lot of things have happened since the last time I posted about the clock ticking for me and my thesis.  I had to produce both my written thesis and my MFA thesis show, my marriage fell apart and eventually ended, I applied for an obscene number of jobs (and got none of them) I graduated, I moved, I had an accident, I dyed my hair pink again, I attended a SHIT ton of therapy…  Basically all of the things had to be taken care of at the same time when all I really wanted to do was to curl up in the fetal position under the covers and cry… and maybe sleep.  Basically January through May was the most miserable time of my life (second only to my time spent in Erie PA).  But that’s OK.  Shit has to happen.

So here I find myself, with my terminal degree, still in Tallahassee, and no idea of what the future holds for me.  But you know what?  I’m actually really comfortable with that idea.  I’ve spent much of the last several years obsessing over the future, and planning things, and being terrified of what was going to happen.  I’m tired of that.  I just want to enjoy the life that I’ve fought so hard to have, even if it means I’m not exactly where I want to be in my career or personal life.  My new philosophy is:  “Why not?  What’s the worst that could happen?”  Because, let’s be honest, I’ve already survived what I thought would be the worst things in my life.  Let’s fly by the seat of our pants for awhile, shall we?

It’s the intersection of those two things though, personal and professional, that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about… Because I’m fairly certain that it played a huge role in the destruction of my marriage.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there were a number of other factors that helped bring that relationship down, and I am certainly glad it is over, but, I think that you should learn from your mistakes and walk away a better, stronger person.  So, I think about these things.  A committee member of mine at FSU has this thing about Personal and Professional boxes, and how they never quite sync up.  Either things are going fantastically in one and not the other, or both are kind of mediocre.  In my head, I kind of scoffed at this when he first talked about it in a class… But, I feel like I’ve been in that latter category for the last 6 or so months… My thesis was created at the expense of my divorce, which resulted in some pretty lackluster work, and my life in general was a mess for quite awhile.  As I move forward, I think about these boxes being at odds with one another… Meaning that I can’t have both a successful professional life as well as a successful personal life.

Now, I’m not interested in having a “woe is me” moment here.  I made some decisions, some turned out badly, some are great, others have yet to reveal their consequences.  But, to reel this line of thought back into what I was originally saying; I feel as if my personal and professional desires are often in conflict with one another.  In the context of the relationship with my ex, I wanted to have that marriage, as well as my career… I wanted to start a family, he wanted to focus grad school…  I’m starting to feel there is no way to win.  That, perhaps, we cannot “have it all” as the feminists would say.

As I’ve returned to dating, and have been forced to rethink my plans for the artistic/academic career I want, these things haunt me.  It’s all very convoluted though.  It’s not just that I want a career and a personal life.  It’s that I’m an artist, who very much wants to be in academia.  To put it rather bluntly, there are a fuck-ton of artists with MFAs out there, while there is an inversely disproportionate number of university teaching positions.  This is because becoming a professor is one of the few ways that artists can both be guaranteed a regular paycheck and get various types of support for their artistic research.  Once you get tenure, no one wants to leave that kind of security!  Shit, son.  I want that type of security.

In any event, this means that there are few open positions, and the ones that are available, can have the highest requirements in terms of experience  and knowledge base, and no one will blink an eye or call foul.  With hundreds of people applying for a single position, why not be choosy?!  Most of the photography teaching positions I was gunning for “preferred” anywhere between 3-5 years of teaching experience not including teaching experience accumulated while in graduate school.  This is frustrating, because it basically precludes my applications to a VAST majority of the positions available.

Then, how to get those years of teaching experience so that the search committees don’t just laugh and throw out my applications?  Well, a combination of adjunct positions and visiting professorships (although, most of the visiting/short term gigs seem to require just as much experience as the permanent ones).  If you are unfamiliar with the concept of adjuncting… Basically it means that you are contracted to a university, semester to semester, paid a flat rate for each course you teach, and have no job security, much less benefits or things of that nature.  Both of these options are depressing to me.  One means I scrounge around where ever I’m living, hoping that I can piece together a living through adjuncting and some other type of job.  (Because, come on, who is going to relocate for a job that has no guarantee of being there when you arrive?)  The other equates to me being a nomad for several years (should I be lucky enough to get any of those jobs).

To me, all of this seems to make having a personal life impossible.  If I’m constantly moving around, then how the heck can I build a long term relationship, much less start a family, with out having to ask my partner to sacrifice what they want while I do what I want?  Or, conversely, I could compromise, and stay put some place where there is a possibility of adjunct work, but have no promise of work from semester to semester, much less financial stability.  But then, what happens once I’ve found a full time job and have to move for reals?  It makes me want to give up on the idea of a career in academia.

Then I wonder what I would do, as an artist if I decided not to go into the university system.  I want to teach, I do.  I sincerely enjoy it.  Then maybe I teach high school? (I have, by the way, applied for a certificate of eligibility to do so.)  But teaching high school, you have no support for your artistic career.  You’re not going to get sabbaticals, have the opportunity to apply for research grants, or have access to various facilities needed.  And, from my perspective, you’re not going to get to teach the things you’re most interested in, or work with the level of students you’d like to… But, you’d have a guaranteed paycheck, you don’t have to be nomadic, and you still get to teach… and maybe make art in a spare minute or two at night… If you have some extra cash laying around…

Conversely, I could just say fuck it to my career for a period of time, take a job doing whatever, start a family, and enjoy that aspect of what I want in life, then try in the future to go after the academic career.  This seems like a terrible idea though… Imagine, sitting in an interview, being asked why you got your terminal degree in 2o14, but did nothing with it until many years later.  Something tells me “Oh, I wanted to settle down with my partner and pop out some kids” would probably not be a widely accepted answer.  I also live in terror of doing this and then never actually reclaiming my career.

Anyway… Now I’m just ranting.  Basically, it seems to me that myself and my fellow academically oriented artists are in a bind.  There are not good options.  And that makes me sad.  While I realize that I can make whatever I want happen in my life, the process seems rather grim.  And I think I make this all the more difficult on myself because I don’t want to move anywhere there is a possibility of snow…