Tangents, Daydreams, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I’m not even going to apologize for not posting for two weeks again… I think maybe we should all just accept that I’m terrible at keeping up a regular blog.  Don’t let that stop you from reading on though!  Prepare yourselves for a first class tangent!
So this past week I have been in a really strange frame of mind.  I’ve been totally spacy, restless, and unable to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.  I have been daydreaming like there is no tomorrow, and having incredibly vivid dreams.  This is very much unlike me. I don’t think I’ve daydreamed or let my mind wander so much since I was in high school.  I typically don’t have time to be unfocused…adulthood and responsibility have sucked that luxury from me.  In fact, if my mind does wander these days, it goes to the  list of things I need to accomplish during the day, and then the ever increasing things piling up that are waiting to be taken care of when I have a free moment.

Needless to say, this past week was an interesting one for me.  I kept forgetting things everywhere, calling the kids at work by the complete wrong name, leaving the house with out my lunch, losing track of time on my lunch break walks and coming back late… I sat down twice to try to write a blog post, and couldn’t get past the first sentence, and forget trying to finish reading Why Art Cannot Be Taught.  In fact, right now as I’m typing, I have to keep stopping because I am unsure if my words are spelled correctly, and then I get distracted by something else.  It’s been a long week.

On Thursday or Friday, the husband said something mean to me, but in a teasing manner of course.  As a joke, I told him I was just going to leave him for Joseph Gordon-Levitt (We had just seen The Dark Knight Rises, and I have long harbored an innocent crush on said gent..and who wouldn’t?  He’s handsome and incredibly talented.  hitRECord anyone?).  The husband’s retort caused me to pause for a moment.  His reply was something along the lines of:  “He is so far out of your league you have no idea…”  Obviously that’s a very negative thing to say, and really, if Mr. Gordon-Levitt is out of my league, what does that say about Hubsley?  But, what really made me stop and think, was the implication that even if realistically speaking I am unlikely to ever meet this person, I should not even be thinking about it.  The thought should not cross my mind.

Now, in conjunction with my daydreamy self, I began to wonder exactly why and how it had come about that I had ever stopped daydreaming to begin with, and then I started pondering why it was so unacceptable to daydream, or have dreams that were perhaps beyond reality.  I have spent all summer teaching art to kids who so absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming unrealistically, so I can hardly say that its a bad thing.

I’m not going to lie… A huge part of why I became an artist is because I got to exist in a world in which my ideas could be bigger than life, and where whimsical, unlikely things are encouraged.  But somewhere along the lines I have completely lost that.  Instead of having daydreams unlikely hopes, and dare I say, fantasies?…I have goals, targets and intents.  I have concrete, realistic, mature markers by which to gauge my success and progress in life.  I spend next to no time in that imaginary world that belongs solely to myself, where I can think (or rather dream) about life’s possibilities, outside the realm of reality.

Of course leaving this world behind is part of growing up, entering the “real” world, and accepting responsibilities.  But that doesn’t mean that our own personal imaginary worlds are gone for good, and there are some people who continue to enter into them as adults. But I think in my case, my chosen path into academia, was the final poison arrow to my ability to day dream.  I don’t know what it is, but academia really jades you.  You lose your sense of possibility, and it becomes about quantifying, recording, and proving exactly what you can achieve.  It becomes less about the process and more about the end result.  You may begin with an out of this world idea, but if you can’t conceivably achieve it by the next review or the end of the semester, you lower your sights and the idea morphs into something more realistic. You don’t get points for being daring or risky, or really for failing.  Professors will deny this, but I really think it’s true.   As a result of this, I think I stopped entering into that world of daydreams and non-realities, because I became so utterly focused on what I could realistically achieve.  Subsequently, because I became so absolutely terrified of failure, I didn’t dare to dream.  Does that make sense?  Maybe it’s just me that’s lost this ability in life, I haven’t done a scientific double blind test in order to prove my theories.  I’ll get right on that…

When I brought all of this up to the husband (I opened the conversation with:  “Remember the other day when you told me Joseph Gordon-Levitt was out of my league?”  using my best serious face.  Ahhh, the look on his face was great!), he offered the characteristically stodgy academic response:  “Well I remember in one of Orloff’s classes, we discussed the idea that analysis decreases pleasure.” (Orloff is Deborah Orloff, a professor we both took classes with in undergrad.)  He then launched into a lecture about whether as artists we should forgo that analysis and understanding for the pure pleasure of creation.  *Buzzer Sound*  He totally missed the point of what I had to say.  It is not only about being an artist, its about being human, and also about reclaiming that part of yourself that you frequently deny.  I’m not advocating a complete return to our imaginary worlds, but maybe just a visit every once in awhile to brighten our days and put life into perspective.

So, until the day that I die, I will make it a point to re-incorporate daydreams and unrealistic hopes (as opposed to the unrealistic goals and expectations I frequently struggle with) into my daily life.  As such, I will continue to hold out on the hope that I will get to go on a date with Joesph Gordon-Levitt.  So Mr. Gordon-Levitt, if you are out there and by some freak chance read this blog… Pretty, pretty please?  Don’t worry, I have a permission slip from the husband!  Marital discord will not be sowed.  Don’t make me start an internet campaign…hahaha.  I’m certain that came off as creepy, but it is meant in the most harmless, funny way possible.

Hope all of you imaginary readers enjoyed another random tangent brought to you by me.

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Rediscovery…and the Illogical Process of Keeping Versus Destroying

Yikes!  It’s been two weeks since I’ve posted.  I’m sorry!

As usual, my excuse is that I’ve been busy outside of the cyber realm, in the real world.  I had to install my show, then I had to recover from my show, then I had to clean up after my show (I drilled about a hundred holes in the ceiling of the gallery that had to be spackled, sanded, and painted… Oh, the joys of being an artist.), and then I had to clean and move my studio.  Also in the meantime, I played Cowboys and Indians.  I was a Cowboy.

Anyway…to the point of my post.  A lot of this summer has been about rediscovery for me.  For instance, I have, in the past few days, rediscovered how disgustingly hot the MFA warehouse is during the summer.  No, seriously…I’m currently sitting in my studio literally sweating buckets as I SIT typing.  I, in fact, have a paper towel laid under my arms where they touch my laptop so that I don’t create pools of sweat on my computer.  I’m certain that would void the warranty.  I can’t wait til the MFA studios move to our new facility…we get air conditioning!

Wow.  That turned into a way longer, not funny digression than I expected.

Again, to the point.  I’ve spent a lot of time reading and thinking this summer, trying to get a new perspective on my work, and to find a solid direction or theme to follow.  In the process, I’ve really rediscovered what I love about making art, and what is important to me as an artist.  This, in and of itself, is very comforting to me, because it means that I do know what I’m doing, and that I am still passionate about it.  There was a point in the last year where I was really questioning this.  I’m very thankful for the time I’ve had for this reflection over the summer.  Away from school assignments, special projects, visiting artist duties, and people in general.  It’s been incredibly refreshing.  I haz rediscovered my art groove.  Yay.

Another refreshing aspect of my summer has been “teaching” at Lafayette Arts and Crafts Center Summer Camp.  (I put teaching in quotation marks, because while I do teach the kids stuff, its really just about letting them be creative and enjoy themselves.)  Since the first week of June, I’ve been working there Monday through Friday, essentially 9-5.  It’s been so amazing to watch a group of 6-12 year olds engaged in the artistic process.  What is most refreshing about it though, is that they are so uninhibited by the “rules” of art making and they are so unafraid of just doing something to do it.  It’s really fantastic.  Through them I’ve rediscovered the simple pleasure of just doing, not worrying about how, or why, or what it means…just making art because you want to make something.  Worrying about fixing the problems later, and using whatever they have on hand to create.  Watching them turn the most banal, basic stuff, into the most amazingly creative things.  They turned the cores of giant paper tubes into cannons, and then into megaphones…construction paper into entire  houses, complete with furniture.  These kids and some of the other instructors have also helped me rediscover the joys of being silly about creativity.  We had a Cowboys and Indian day last week, and I spent the day with a mustache and beard painted on my face by another instructor… I’ve also had the joy of using my camera to document their projects and adventures.  I had forgotten how fulfilling and enjoyable the simple act of taking photographs is.  It is so second nature to me, and yet I deny that part of myself so often.  It’s been an incredibly instructive summer job for me.  I just hope that I can come back next summer… I’m technically not allowed to say anything about it but, suffice to say, I may not have the opportunity next year.  And wouldn’t it be a shame if no one got to see this again?:

 

 

 

 

I hope that made you laugh and rediscover the Cowboy inside yourself.  🙂  I’d post more pictures of the amazing costumes, weapons, and forts the kids made, but I’m not allowed to without the permission of the parents.  Oh well.  Where was I?  Oh yeah…

The most recent moment of rediscovery I’ve had, was while moving my studio a whole 50 yards down the hall way in the warehouse.

I decided that since I was going to move my studio (I wanted a little bit bigger space that was less centrally located from traffic and noise), I was going to clean and get rid of any bad juju that I was hanging on to.  I realize that sounds crazy, but sometimes we create associations with certain objects or pieces we’ve created, and that can affect you subconsciously.  I think that physical spaces can also have bad juju associated with them.  I sort of feel like my old studio space had some negative vibes floating around…In any event, I did a purge. It’s hard for me to explain my rationale behind what I choose to keep, and what I choose to get rid of, except that I just know when I need to get rid of something…Stick with me here.  I’m sure all of you other artists out there have a similar process.

Now, I  burned a lot of stuff back in February.  Things that just held bad memories and negative thoughts, or just plain old bad art, but in moving I wanted to make a clean sweep.  So sweep I did.  But in the process, I rediscovered some really old art that I’d forgotten I was even carting around with me.  Seriously.  Things I made at UT, bits and pieces of works I made while living in Erie.  For the most part, I hang onto old work for a few years, and then, unless its very meaningful or significant to me or my career, I dump it.  The things I throw away, are work that typically never grew beyond that single piece or idea.  For instance, yesterday I threw away a set of photographic paper dolls and a photo tile puzzle I made several years ago.  When I do this, I pretty much feel no compunction about throwing away my art work.  I hate keeping pointless stuff around.  It just becomes distracting, meaningless clutter.  (I get very overwhelmed if I am physically surrounded by too much clutter.  I find it…distracting and irritating.)  I’m actually seriously considering doing this to all but a select few of the boxes and boxes of negatives I have…But the photographer in me cringes at this, so clearly the time is not ripe for a negative purge (Whoa…did I just rediscover my inner photographer?!), so the boxes went into a cupboard in my studio, out of sight, out of mind, for now.

I also found some little pieces that, while unfinished, unrelated to other works, or otherwise deemed random, I can’t seem to let go of yet.  These are things that I just feel a connection to, or that speak to me on some level.  I keep thinking that maybe these little bits of ephemera just aren’t done with me yet (or vice versa)…that they’re time is yet to come.  Perhaps they will eventually influence new work, or I will be able to successfully complete them.  Whatever my psychological reasoning, I just can’t let them go.  Which is strange, because I can be pretty merciless about getting rid of things (just ask my husband).  The super strange thing, is that its not all art work.  There are things, like a set of famous TV mother paper dolls my dad gave me a couple of years ago, that I just gravitate to.  Or maybe, in another year, I will find these things again and decide it’s time to throw them out, that they have served their purpose.  Who knows.  But for now, they all reside in the top drawer of the flat files in my studio, easily accessible from my work table…Just in case.

The Artist Statement….*Duh Duh Duuuuuh*

I apologize for having not posted in the last week, but I’ve been busy getting ready for this:

It is that time of the month again!  First Friday!  And some crazy part of me decided it would be a great idea to organize a show…only I wound up being the only one willing to show this month….everyone else seems to be out of town or in an awkward/bad place with their work.  Whoops.  That’s OK, solo show for me I guess!  The work shown will be a rework of Flawless (sans video component and some changes in the installation) and a new video installation piece that I just recently “completed.”  I put completed in quotes because I’m still not entirely satisfied with it, but it will be good to take it out for a spin and see what kind of reactions I get.  I will eventually get around to posting up here for all to see.  But first I need to export it from Final Cut…Better get on that.

So instead of writing witty or insightful blog posts, I’ve been sweating my butt off at the gallery (it’s been pretty hot here in FL) installing things, working out logistical stuff, designing the lovely promo piece you see above, and desperately trying to write an artist statement to have posted at the show.  Oh the chores and secret delights of being an artist!

If any of you have visited my artist statement page, you well know that all you get is a picture.  A pretty freaking awesome image (from one of my photographic series), but a picture nonetheless.  You might be asking yourself why an artist might be writing a blog and posting about their own art work, without also posting an artist statement.  That is an excellent question my dear imaginary readers!  The answer is quite boring really.  I decided suddenly that I needed to have an artist statement page, and put one up.  I didn’t have (and still don’t have) an artist statement to post there, but figured I’d put up the page to A) Give me motivation to write a new statement, and B) Continually remind me that I wanted to put an artist statement up here.  It only proved useful in the latter.

In any event…I think the more pressing question, is why I don’t have an artist statement to begin with.  This is also a good one.  When I moved down here and started grad school…I had one.  I had to have one to apply to grad school in fact.  I’ve always been pretty good at writing artist statements.  It’s not a difficult chore if you are familiar with your work and your process.  If you’re good with art history, that’s just a bonus.  However, after starting my work down here, the thematic explorations of my work began to change drastically.  I also began to veer away from my medium of choice, photography.  As my work was in such transition (aka crisis), I found it incredibly difficult to even attempt to write an artist statement.  It took almost the entirety of the school year for me to even begin to understand thegeneral scope of what I was trying to explore and express visually, let alone organize and verbalize these ideas.  While I’ve had more time over the summer to think about it, I’m still very much struggling with writing an artist statement.

I said before that writing an artist statement is simply a matter of knowing your work and your process…and I certainly think that is what is hindering me now.  In a realm that I am relatively new to (performance and installation), and having had my process changed so completely in the last year,  it’s hard for me to get a good perspective on what I am doing and what I want to say.  I also feel that I am struggling because I don’t have a good grasp on a vocabulary for performance and installation.  All in all a ridiculously frustrating situation.  Have any of you dear imaginary readers struggled with this?

Bah.  Everyone things being an artist is so easy…but that’s a rant for another day.  Rest assured I will have the darn artist statement written by Friday, and will post in here for all the internet world to criticize sometime in the next week.  Until then, have a happy Fourth!