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…

 

 

A January/February Grab Bag of Rambling…

Words are failing me lately.  So I haven’t been posting.  I’ve slowly been working on this one for about a week.

 

I’m still struggling with exactly what I mean when I say I don’t want to make things.  And I’m still a little unclear on the specifics of some of the pieces I’m working on.  I know I should just sit down and write until my hand falls off just to get it out of my head and onto paper, but honestly I just haven’t had the time.  I rarely get more than an hour to work on any one thing at a time right now.  This semester is just hectic in the sense that I’m bouncing back and forth between VAST and campus a lot, I either teach or have class every day Monday through Friday, and I have a lot of home work and prep work to do in general.  The weekends are my only uninterrupted studio time, but those are also the only days I get to see the husband because we are running on completely opposite schedules this semester.  Yuck.  I’m hoping though now that the first set of reviews are nearly over, and I’ve settled into the rhythm of this semester things will calm down and I will find some uninterrupted time to sit down and write out the art thoughtz.  It’s about time for me to start the thesis anyway…

 

As always, I have several things in the works, and I’m considering adding a few more.  I had a studio visit for one of my classes last night and my professor suggested that I do some more quick, sketchbook type things using the video camera, just so that I don’t focus so much on some of the other things I’m working on, but frustrated with.  I think that’s probably a pretty good idea right now because I’m finding myself just repeating the same thing over and over like the outcome is going to drastically change…

 

So I have two video pieces I’m working on.  They might become one, who knows.  One is an extension of the Bleed videos I was working on in the fall.  For me its about destroying something and that destruction creating something beautiful.  I’ve had a pretty fitful start with this so far.  First I was shooting tests with my iPhone, then I had to build a table to shoot with, then once I started shooting again, I had to stop and troubleshoot the water that was leaking on my camera, I’m trying to master (or at the very least be adequate at) shooting video with a DSLR… It’s like this crazy new ball game to me… and so I’ve been having problems with focusing and depth of field, and then of course just to make it a little harder on myself, I’m learning a new video editing program, Adobe Premier (not that I really knew Final Cut that well…).  Oh and I’m shooting something that can’t be reshot.  Sometimes I can hear my mind laughing hysterically at me, saying:  “Figure your way out of this one!”  I’m thinking that once I do win this battle, the video will become one component of a large installation, but we’ll see.

 

The second video I’m working on revolves around the idea of communication and self-defeat.  I’m really not certain where it’s going or what form it will take in the end, but the idea popped into my head last week and I ran with it.  And that’s that…

 

I have a couple of performances planned revolving around the idea of saying no and setting oneself up for failure.  I’m kind of keeping the details of those under wraps until I actually do them because I don’t really want people to know I’m doing a performance until after the fact.  I’m concerned that if they do know, they are going to react or behave differently, and I want genuine participation, which means I may not be able to document them…  I also am still really unsure of how I’m going to actually do these performances.

 

Speaking of documenting performances, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on that subject since the fall.  I really go back and forth on it for various reason.  I have a blog post I wrote for one of my classes all about it… I’ll post it on here for your edification.  But basically I don’t know how I feel about documenting my performances anymore.  In fact I kind of don’t like the idea, because no documentation can ever fully express the experience of that performance/happening/action/installation/event…

 

I don’t know.  My brain is working overtime.  Both on ideas and school work.  Again it gets back to the idea that I need some uninterrupted time to sit down and write/think/enjoy silence.  But right now I need to go update my artist statement, and maybe eat something.  Why don’t you look at these pictures while I do that?

 

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I some how magically made the spectrum unintentionally...
I some how magically made the spectrum unintentionally…

IMG_0121 IMG_0100 IMG_0099 IMG_0116

Messy, messy lady I am...
Messy, messy lady I am…
The studio, cluttered and busy because I've been working.
The studio, cluttered and busy because I’ve been working.

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I'm sort of fixated on my iPhone's capability to take panoramas.  It's fun to mess with.
I’m sort of fixated on my iPhone’s capability to take panoramas. It’s fun to mess with.
Documentation from shooting some video... If you look carefully you can see my colored water leaking on to the camera.
Documentation from shooting some video… If you look carefully you can see my colored water leaking on to the camera.
Some documentation from an ongoing piece.  I've committed to wear these shoes until it's no longer safe to do so.  For me this piece is about unnecessary worry, and the idea that just because  something isn't perfect or precious, doesn't mean that you've failed.
Some documentation from an ongoing piece. I’ve committed to wear these shoes until it’s no longer safe to do so. For me this piece is about unnecessary worry, and the idea that just because something isn’t perfect or precious, doesn’t mean that you’ve failed.
One of the resultant graphs from my January FF performance.  There are a lot of them...
One of the resultant graphs from my January FF performance. There are a lot of them…
Sometimes reflections can be cool... but only sometimes.  And certainly not when you don't want them.
Sometimes reflections can be cool… but only sometimes. And certainly not when you don’t want them.

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My most recent contraption for shooting video... I've solved the leaking problem.  Yay caulk!
My most recent contraption for shooting video… I’ve solved the leaking problem. Yay caulk!

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A still from the video about communication and self defeat.
A still from the video about communication and self defeat.

 

 

The Weekly Round Up (Diane Rehm Style!)

OK, maybe not really Diane Rehm style, as I don’t have an amazing radio show to which I can invite intelligent experts to discuss things in a civilized manner, but I can do my week in review!

Awe, who am I kidding, there’s no comparison.  Diane wins.  But that doesn’t mean you can leave!

I digress…

(I’ve always wanted to say that!)
So what did go on this week?…

I started my week off bright at early with a 9:30 am committee review Monday.  That meant I had to be up by 6:30 (I am not a morning person…even with coffee) and out the door by 8. Ugh.  In any event, if you remember in my last post I said I had committee reviews right then and there, but that only 1/3 of my committee would be present.  Yeah.  I wasn’t lying.  2 of my 3 members didn’t show up, so I had to reschedule a meeting with the 2 lazy bums who didn’t show. (Just kidding!  No one on my committee are lazy bums, they just had other obligations!  Don’t hit me!  I love my committee!!!!)  So I had that.  And I feel like it went pretty well.  They gave me some good feedback, and it was actually a good energizer for the week as an entirety.  It also helped give some directions to a few things I’ve been floundering on a little bit.

As a result of my reviews, I had A LOT of things to think about and work through.  The first of which was something I’d already been pondering, which was how I define failure, success, perfection and expectations.  These are things that have been running through my mind since my studio visit with James Elkins, but my committee gave me a few more insights and ways to approach the problem.  I started by going back to the dictionary and thesaurus to see what the actual definitions to these words are, and now I’m trying to trace the meanings these words back to my own interpretations to see how the line up, and perhaps find out where my versions originated.  Then maybe I can understand what these words mean to me.  If that makes any sense to you.  I also had a professor suggest that I look at the way my family defines these terms and see how that impacts my understandings.  I plan on sitting down to do that soon.

I also fried my brain reading song lyrics and poetry trying to find something to replace the excerpt from Art & Fear I used in …expectations lie…  I’m looking for something that is subtle, but much more relatable (Huh.  WordPress doesn’t think that’s a word.  Interesting), about expectations and/or failure.  The excerpt I used was, while technically appropriate, refers to a very particular, closed system, and I want something more widely applicable.  My committee whole heartedly agrees.  There were some crazy suggestions flying, like finding a country song, because those are all about failure…. Um, yeah.  I don’t know so much about that.  (I can’t stand country music).  Anyone have any suggestions?  I need to find something soon, because I have plans to re-shoot that video with in the next week.  I want to have the new version edited and finished for my November 9th reviews.  I have considered using Ben Folds Five’s song Brick, because it has always made me think of failure and expectations, but I’m not so sure.  I did a couple of test shots, and it just doesn’t seem to flow well.  Perhaps because it’s written to be sung, or perhaps because I think I sound weird.  Who knows for sure?  No, I do know… it’s less about me hearing my own voice, and more about the sound of the words as spoken units.  It’s also awkward that it’s from a male point of view, and it is being recited by a female.  Oh the troubles of my life…

 

Moving on, as Ms. Rehm would say.

 
I did something I love this week… Going to the library!  I do absolutely love going to the library.  I am a nerd like that.  Libraries are totally awesome.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t for pleasure.  It was all business.  I went to look for books on failure (which are surprisingly few) and perfection (there seem to be many). This is my current reading list:

Perfectionism:  Theory, Research and Treatment

The Queer Art of Failure

The Art of Choosing

The Success and Failure of Picasso

Failure!:  Experiments in Aesthetic and Social Practices

While I love to read, and these books are really interesting… It takes FOREVER for me to get through books anymore.  I barely have time to read most days.  BUT I must read all of these by my next set of reviews.  That is my goal.  I want to glean what I can from these books and see if I can apply anything to my work.

NEXT!

It hit me this week how much I love making things.  I realize that sounds odd coming from an artist, but I don’t often get to make things anymore.  One of the things I find hardest about doing performance work, is that when I am finished, I have nothing to show for it, except maybe some photos or a video.  There is no concrete, physical object.  Now, I’m not saying that you must make objects to be an artist, but (for me) there is something satisfying about having a final product to show for all of the (occasional) blood, (profuse, literal and metaphorical) sweat, and (inevitably for me) tears.  It also makes me fee like I did something besides think a lot and then do something that perhaps in another context would simply be a normal, every day action.  Besides, it’s cool to make it look like my studio is a buzzing hub of activity.  I’m trying to find a balance in my work, to where I can do performance, but there is still a object generation component as well.  It’s tricky…

Needless to say, I don’t often need to make things in my studio, which is slightly troublesome, since working elsewhere is distracting.  BUT when I do get to, I get all giddy and intense (like camping).  I also love going to the hardware store for these projects and pretending like I know what I’m looking for/doing.  And that my friends, is exactly what I did today so that I could build this:

What is it you ask? Well… It’s for a video I’m working on.  What can I say, Kate Gilmore inspired me.  I kid you not, I spent hours watching her videos on Tuesday.  I’ll have more pictures and hopefully some video up here soon.  I’ve been trying to shoot this video for awhile now but keep hitting road blocks, like reflections, EVERYWHERE.  No joke y’all.  I had to spray paint my tripod matte black because of all the reflections I’m getting.  I literally had to leave my studio yesterday because I was getting so frustrated with it.  I will be attempting it again tomorrow.

 
What else?

I’m working on some liquid light tests for my old friends, the Flawless prints… It’s going.. slowly, but surely…I feel like I could spend the next five years trying to make these work. I had it suggested that I should do them as cyanotypes instead of using liquid light… Damnit.  Why didn’t I think of that?!  Oh, that’s right, because I have next to no familiarity with alternative processes… FAIL.  We’ll see what happens.  I had a little brain flash in relation to these the other day, so it might work out after all.

Speaking of photo processes… Remember how I waxed poetic about how I love photography?  Well… I still do, no worries there.  In fact, I (finally) get to start teaching photo in the spring here at FSU.  Awesome.  I found out, not through an official announcement, but via an email from a non-art major student who wants to take my class.  I feel like there is a metaphor for my life in there somewhere…

So that was the weekly round up.  Not nearly as cool as the Friday Diane Rehm show, but I can always pretend right?  Like when I pretend I am Julia Child or Jacques Pepin while I’m cooking.  Everything tastes better that way.

 

 

 

 

If Three Trains of Thought are Running on the Same Track…

I have to be up in three hours.  Yeah, you heard me.  Up and going in three hours, at work in 4ish… But I can’t sleep, my brain has been churning non-stop since about 6 pm, and I can’t seem to shut it off, even with my normal routine of reading myself to sleep.  (Currently I’m reading Jasper Fforde’s The Well of Lost Plots, which you should totally, immediately check out…but not until you’ve finished reading my blog.)Bear with me here, this is another one of my random thought tangents that magically tie all of my unconnected thoughts together at the end.  Yay non-linear thinking!

What got my ceaseless thinking going, was that as I was laying down to read and go to sleep, I was, um, checking…something… on my, uh, cell phone…  Oh alright, I confess, I was playing a silly game. The game, while not particularly thought provoking, did suddenly give me a huge rush of deja vu (it was in fact a game I had never played before).  Now, you may be asking yourselves why this matters, and more to the point, why you should continue reading about my already been there moment.  Well…because I said it did, and because I said you should.  So there.  Also I promise if you keep reading there will be a surprise for you down at the bottom of the page. But only if you keep reading!

The way I look at deja vu is that when you experience those moments in life, it means that you are on the right path, that you have made good decisions and things are headed in a positive direction.  This way of interpreting deja vu was introduced to me by Christine D’Onofrio a few years back, and it’s really awesome.  It’s like a tiny wave from the future/past every time.  It is actually quite comforting to think of it in this way.  Try it, you’ll like it.

My moment of deja vu got me excited because I haven’t had one in a really long time.  Which, after having uprooted myself and my husband, taken on even more student loan debt, and struggled through my first year of grad school, did not exactly have me feel so great.  And, as I am wont to do, I was starting to question myself and build myself up into an anxious wreck in anticipation of the start of the school year.  In the past few days, I had, in all seriousness, been asking myself if I should really be in grad school, if I really had what it takes, etc…  I think I was (am?) starting to dread the school year (something that may very well be a first for me), because I don’t want it to become a repeat of last year where nothing was accomplished.  If you missed the finer points, I think the 2011-2012 school year went something like this for me:

Chaos of moving, anxiety, avoiding the studio, making bad art, crying, making some more bad art, drinking A LOT, anxiety, crying some more, avoiding the studio, making even more bad art, making pumpkin cookies, drinking again, crying yet again, kind of getting my shit together, anxiety, making ok art, making terrible art, hiding under a table, getting drunk and watching the Twilight movies (yes, that was a low, even for me), crying once more, drinking a little bit more, baking cup cakes, and making some decent art.  

Yeah…that about sums it up.  No really…That’s pretty much how it went.  Who would want a repeat of that?  It was spectacularly disastrous (So much for being the Best At All The Things).  So it was partly reassuring to have a small moment of peace, in which I was shown that I was, and have been, going in the right direction.  It made me smile, quietly to myself, which is perhaps the best kind of smile.

But my deja vu train of thought got me thinking about something else…  Earlier in the evening, I had been proofreading/critiquing an admissions essay that one of the Husband’s cousins had written.  Long story short, I was harping on him to make his final goals (beyond education and the specific university he was applying to) crystal clear.  I must have told him in five different ways… Good thing it was via a word doc and email…other wise I may have gotten punched in the face.  In doing this, however, I thought back to what my ultimate goals were and why exactly I was working toward my MFA.  Once upon a time, I had hoped to teach at a college or university, and if I was really lucky, as a tenured faculty member.  But tonight I realized that may not be the case anymore…

While that line of thought was running, I had a third, but parallel line going, about how much I really love what I do.  I love being an artist, I honestly do.  For me though, making art has never been about making money, or having an audience.  In fact, I’ve never sold a damned thing (and I’ve been working as an artist in some capacity for 10 years now), and I make art pretty much for myself.  It’s a cathartic and expressive experience to me, it is how I make sense of the world around me, and how I make sense of myself.  Yes I do show my work, but if people respond, react, or even like my work, its just an added bonus for me.  I know many other artists and many of my colleagues out there are cringing at this attitude right now.  But it is the truth of how I operate.  It is as much a part of my art work as it is a part of me.  Do I want to be successful and be able to support myself solely on my art?  Well of course, but statistically speaking that’s highly unlikely, so why be untrue to myself? And it is for this reason that I’ve always planned to teach in addition to making art.  I also happen to really love teaching.

When I teach older kids and adults, it’s so amazing to me to watch them when they finally grasp and truly understand a concept, to see them get excited about an idea or a project, and then witness the results that your guidance has help to supply.  Several times when I’ve taught workshops, my students have been so fired up to try the techniques out for themselves because they had never thought of it, never seen it before, or didn’t think that they could do it themselves.  And have come up to tell me as much.  They ask questions that really push me to my limits, causing me to think, re-examine my assumptions and perceptions, and of course learn even more so that I can answer those questions!

Teaching little kids, it’s just so fantastic to me seeing them create in such an uninhibited manner.  And to see them work out how exactly to do something, or solve some kind of creative problem is just mind blowing.  In fact, yesterday at work, I gave my class some free time to do what ever they wanted, and one of the younger boys asked to make a book again.  At the beginning of each two week camp session, I have been having the kids make simple little sketch books out of printer paper, card stock and yarn.  This little boy liked the activity so much, he has made one of these books nearly every day for the last week and a half!  I asked him if he would like me to show him how to make another kind of book, and he was so excited that he dropped the book he had just started working on.  I walked him through the 4 or 5 simple steps it takes to make a folded book (that’s a random youtube link giving the gist of folded books if you’re unfamiliar), and then let him go at it.  He then proceeded to make 3 of them, trouble shooting little mishaps along the way, and then telling me how cool they were.  Wow, what a really awesome moment for me, because it really reinforces the fact that I have all of this knowledge for a reason, and even if I may not use it in my own work, I can share it with others to help them learn about art!

So in sum, I love what I do, both the art making and the teaching aspect.  That’s why I was so crushed when I found out I wouldn’t be teaching at FSU in the fall.  The opportunity to teach is a HUGE reason why I chose to come to school here.  But it’s OK,  because even if, when I finish my master’s degree, I don’t wind up finding one of the rare full time university gigs, I can still teach.  There are always community colleges, community centers, art camps, museums, schools… Again, I know some of my colleagues might go apoplectic at this idea, but to me, it’s still teaching, I’m still sharing art and art making with the world.

And that, my long suffering, ever patient imaginary readers, brings me around to my moment of deja vu.  Despite my anxieties and self doubt, I have some how found myself in the right place in my life once again.  Graduate school, while terrifyingly daunting, is providing me not only with better critical/theoretical thinking and challenging me in my art making (so that I can hopefully make a career out of it), but stronger teaching skills and a better resume as well.  I lucked into the best summer job ever, making art projects with a group of really great kids.  It helped me to remember why I fell in love with art in the first place and reminded me that I love what I do, whether its making or teaching.  Even if I have a rough patch… I can survive it, learn from it, and find my self in the right place once more.  Now if I get really lucky, Lafayette Arts and Crafts Center will not close, and I will be given the amazing opportunity to teach photography classes there this fall!

Hope you all enjoyed another random tangent brought to you by me and my crazy brain.  Keep making some art, even if it is bad.  Eventually you’ll get through it and make some OK art, and then in turn you’ll get through to the good art.  🙂  It happens to us all.  Or maybe just me.  I can’t prove anything either way.

PS, I now I have to be up in 1 hour.  So maybe I just won’t even go to sleep.  Thank the art gods that tomorrow (today?) is International Dance Day at camp and I don’t actually have to teach anything….  Oh!  And I lied about the something cool down at the bottom.  Well, not really lied, as I did have something to post for your amusement and gratification for sticking with me through the tangent, but my internet connection is being uncooperative…I’ll save it for the next time.

Now I think I’m just getting punchy.  Have a lovely one!
 
 
 

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.

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.