Expectations, Monica Cook, Serendipity, & James Elkins…

Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long now…  I’m not joking when I say I barely had time to sleep the last few weeks.

So where did I leave off?  Ah yes.  The performance I am temporarily titling “…expectations lie…”.  You can view a 10 minute video clip of the performance here. The over all performance was about 45 minutes, and I’ve edited the video to reflect that time lapse a little bit. I’m not totally happy with the documentation, but that’s OK.  I plan on recreating this as a video piece in it’s own right.

Anyway, as I discussed before it was my intent for this piece to center around the idea of expectations versus reality and some what self destructive behaviors.  Now that I think back about it, the reason the 500 Days of Summer sequence was sticking in my mind was because it was an example of an internal or mental set up of expectations. Many of my pieces thus far have focused on external physical actions, that didn’t necessarily portray the psychological aspect of what I was attempting to address.  And subconsciously I must  have realized this because as I brainstormed, I began trying to find ways to impede or damage myself mentally.  Well, I came up with the idea to attempt to recite something, flawlessly of course, and for each mistake that I made, I would be forced to take a shot (of vodka).  For me, it was the perfect representation of frustration in action.  Trying to do something, over and over again, but failing each time, and chastising yourself each time, makes it harder and harder to live up to you own expectations.  So I ran with it…even though it seemed like a really bad idea for my liver.  But then again, I didn’t really expect to drink as much as I wound up drinking…

 
I won’t bore you with the exact details, but it took me almost a week to come up with something appropriate for the recitation…I finally settled on an excerpt from a book entitled Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

It’s the tiny bit at the bottom of page 34 through to the second full paragraph on page 35.  To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% happy with what I chose, as it’s a bit too theoretical and screams “Art!”  I am still looking for something more subtle and applicable to all types of expectations, not just the ones that relate to art making.  But it served it’s purpose well.

I also developed this idea about having an on going internal monologue calling out my mistakes and generally telling me how worthless I am.  It worked pretty well… You can see/hear the results for yourself on the video.  Here’s a few stills if your too lazy to watch or you’re like me and your internet is too slow.

Over all, I’m really pleased with the way the performance turned out.  My anxiety level was pretty high as I planned this, and it reached extreme levels as I started the performance (You can totally tell at the beginning of the video…It’s pretty funny actually).

The fantastic thing for me however, was that a few days before the performance occurred, and I was lucky enough to have a studio visit with an amazing artist named Monica Cook.  In much of her work she has this play between chaos and control going on, so I was looking forward to talking with her about that.  My visit with her was completely beyond my wildest dreams!  She was really supportive of the ideas I was using, and liked the performance I had planned.  Her encouragement really helped me get over some of that anxiety and just do the darn thing.  It was fan-tastic.  I wish I would have remembered to record it… I totally forgot to turn on the audio record app thingy on my phone.  😦

I also had this really great conversation with her about serendipity and deja vu.  Just the day prior, all my notebooks that I keep my research, brainstorming, and notes for teaching in got soaking wet somehow and the pens I use are most decidedly not water safe…

I really kind of freaked out.  To say that I was distraught would be an understatement, and I had actually gotten so upset I threw away my notebooks.  I didn’t even know what to do.  But then as the night progressed and I thought about it, there was something to these notebooks.  Even Eric thought I should do something with them.  So I went the next morning and rescued the notebooks from the trash can in the photo lab.  I showed them to Monica during my studio visit and she agreed that I needed to use them to create.  We discussed how water keeps popping up in my work, and this so called destruction was actually serendipity pointing me on my way.  We both look at serendipity and deja vu the same way… that it means you are on the right track and things are good.  Its funny to me though, that water is somehow finding it’s way into my work.  It may sound odd, but I’ve always felt a very definite connection to water, even as a child.  I loved hearing it rain, and being on beaches, things like that.  To go all astrological on you, I’m sure it’s somehow related to the fact that I am a Sagittarius, which is a fire sign.

In any event, I’ve been playing around with these pages for a few weeks now.  But I’m still not sure what they will become.  I’ve shot some photos, and I’m also working on a related video.  Both are still in an awkward, undefined stage, but I’ll share the photos, as the video is completely incoherent right now.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with these, as just photographing these objects seems too easy… I also think I just like the original object more.  But that might be my own biases.

I’ll talk more about this later maybe, but the other happening that kept me from writing, was that James Elkins came as a visiting scholar to FSU.  I was on the planning committee for that and so spent a day driving him around, which was pretty cool.  I also got a studio visit with him, which again was a great experience.  I DID remember to record that one.  🙂

One of the things Elkins said to me about my work was that I needed to find more of a grey area…  Where the topics of success and failure are not so clearly defined.  I think this is really great feedback, but I’m not sure how to do this.  He also got me thinking about how I define perfection, or the opposite of failure.  Elkins pointed out that to understand the failure, I should try to understand what perfection is.  I don’t have an answer for that right now, but it’s something that is rolling around in my head currently.

So… Busy times here in the studio.  Lots of studio visits, lots of thinking, and lots of experimenting with stuff…  Right now, I’m waiting for my committee to come in and do reviews once again.  Although, apparently only one of my committee members is going to be present. And I even showered, put on nice clothes AND make-up.  Yeesh.  Its OK, I get to do it again in a month.  Wish me luck!

Art & Fear belongs to the aforementioned authors.  All of the photos in this post are mine, but the images from my performance were taken by Samantha Burns.

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This Will Have to Tide You All Over for Now…

Hey imaginary followers!

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a post, but many things have taken place in the last few weeks that have gotten in my way.  Like WordPress crashing and my half written blog post disappearing into the digital ether…  But the bottom line is that I still don’t have a blog post ready for you, and unfortunately I don’t have the time to write a good one…  So in the mean time I present to you a pictoral version of my last two weeks.  Feel free to write your own captions or stories to go along.  It might be funnier/more interesting this way!

monica cook

Ellen Mueller

I swear I’ll get a real post out about what’s going on in the studio pictures as well as my most recent performance… It just won’t happen til the beginning of next week.  There is SO much going on right now!

Most of the images are mine, or are borrowed from the web.  Paintings from Monica Cook, performance stills from Ellen Mueller (except the ones of me…those are mine, fair and square).  Books from respective authors/publishing companies.  Fountain logo property of Fountain Art Fair, Working Method Contemporary logo property of Working Method Contemporary Gallery.  Did I miss anything?  I hope not.  If I did I’m sorry, and IT DOES NOT BELONG TO ME, IT BELONGS TO YOU.

Serendipity and Delicious Morsels of Chocolately Wisdom

After my intense ponderings on Ubu Roi, I present some fluff to fill the empty spaces in your head.

Last week was my first of fall classes.  The preceding week was all that fun orientation/bureaucracy junk that the university likes to put us through.  You know what I’m talking about.  Tedious, brain numbing activities and events that really bear no relevance on the education itself.  It seemed that after a very chill and productive summer, FSU clearly wanted to take my life over again as soon as possible, with paperwork, computer glitches, and financial aid nonsense.  It wasn’t all painful… though a lot of it was.  Like a teaching orientation I wasn’t supposed to be at, but was told I needed to attend.  Or the absolute longest, most difficult LGA meeting EVER.  There were definite moments of enjoyment though.  Getting to meet all the new grads entering the program and seeing their work/hearing them talk about it was a high point for me.  As were all of the food-centric events.  I gained 5 pound during orientation week.  No joke.  I do so love to eat.

But I think the best part about my return to school this year was the absolute pure serendipity of EVERYTHING.  And it all started with this:

It’s shocking how clean my nails look right now.

I came across this beautiful little hug from fate at a potluck toward the end of my week of orientation nonsense.  If you’ve been following me here for any amount of time, you’ll know about my struggle with and against the concept of Flawlessness and Imperfection.  At the moment I found this delicious morsel of chocolatey wisdom, I was poised on the verge of a full blown anxiety attack about my art and returning to school to deal with faculty and fellow students.  I wanted to have complete control of how everything would go down, and obviously couldn’t.  I wanted to hide from all my fellow MFA-ers and live in a hermetically sealed studio this year… And then I found this, as I was having a conversation with my major professor ABOUT my Flawless II installation at my last show.  Clearly I had to smile, and realize everything was going to be OK.  It was like this tiny, tasty omen.   I honestly cannot describe it any better.  It was as if puzzle pieces magically fell into place.  I was told that my GA hours would be spent doing what I love most… Helping students in the darkroom with printing and processing.  Every time I had a conversation with someone, the knowledge or information attained fortuitously linked into a conversation I had either just had, or a conversation that took place later that same day.  (I’m not even joking.  EVERY conversation.  It actually got a little eerie.)  I was easily able to get meetings with everyone I wanted to meet with, and in those meetings, more serendipitous occurrences took place.  For instance, I was out lining an idea I have for an ongoing piece about stopping to acknowledge my obsessive behaviors to a professor, and she had just read a book relating to this idea.  Another professor, while discussing my feminist leanings, had just heard a report relating to a concept I had brought up.  Finally, while discussing an idea I have for a performance, my husband pointed me in the perfect direction for research, where I found amazing material to not only use as support for many of the ideas I’ve been pursuing in the last few months, but that is helping me to extend and define my thoughts.

Ah-mazing.  All from a Dove chocolate.  Maybe I should invest in Dove?  No, I can’t do that.  I don’t have any money to invest.
I hope serendipity makes a visit to all of you imaginary readers soon!  Until then, just because I haven’t mentioned it in awhile (and I’m hoping my serendipity kick will help me out on this front):

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT!

Not my pic…Taken from a random Google search of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

 

If this doesn’t make any sense to you… Go here.

Overflow/Overwhelm/Overcome

Since I spent an aggregate two weeks on this show (not including the actual time it took to create the work), I’d thought I’d share with you all the fruits of my labor.  I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to upload the video projection component of one of my installations onto youtube first.  That, sad to say, did not pan out.  Apparently it’s too long.  So, what I do have to offer you is A TON of pictures, and a shaky cell phone video of the installation itself…

I am actually incredibly pleased with the way this show pulled together and the response I got from the audience.  I really can’t believe how well it turned out.  It was, by far, the smoothest installation and opening I have ever had.  Everything went as planned, no sudden, dramatic obstacles reared their ugly heads, I never once freaked out.  That is a MAJOR accomplishment for this control freak.
So how about some pictures before I blather on more?  OK!

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, the first room at WMC was dedicated to a re-installation of Flawless…We shall hence refer to it as Flawless II.  Originally, I had thought that I would need two pieces to properly fill the space in that front gallery, but after I started installing and saw how Flawless II was taking shape, I quickly revised that decision.  I’m glad that I did, because the room would have been way to cramped and the pieces would not have had any breathing space.  I think the resultant installation came out beautifully.  Much more like the crashing wave I originally envisioned.  I installed it sans video component this time, and I loved it all the more for that.  But I think I might still add a different video…I had the suggestion of actual waves.  What do you all think about that?  We’ll see what happens… For the meantime I’m putting this piece to sleep.  Maybe I’ll recycle the prints into something else…

The back room at Working Method housed a video installation which I suppose I am calling Overflow.  The video component was an approximately 20 minute loop of a kitchen sink filling with water and, get this, overflowing!  The video was projected onto a plastic sheet with water running down it at various times.  The water collected in puddles and pools on the floor (at one point even leaking under the wall into another gallery space…whoops) which viewers had to walk through.  The resultant foot prints actually wound up making a fantastic trail through the front gallery space.  Additionally, some of the water seeped under the plastic sheeting and through the bottom of the wall between the front and back galleries, making some excellent effects on the Flawless II installation.  The final bit of the Overflow installation was that there were cans hanging from a frame on the ceiling, dripping water down onto the viewer periodically.  It made for some awesome audience reactions.

If you would like to see the video documentation, it will magically appear if you click this link.

Overall, I am incredibly proud of the way my show turned out.  I really got some great feedback, and the audience really seemed to enjoy the work over all, particularly the older (say over 30) crowed.  They truly appeared to make a connection to the work in the way the younger visitors to the gallery did, with a few exceptions.  One of them being a freaking adorable little girl (about 6 or so) who came in with her mother.  This little girl asked me some really good questions, and really seemed to understand what I was trying to get at by “making it rain” in the gallery.

So until the next time…Joseph Gordon-Levitt and make some art!  😉

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!