Never Fear…I’m Still Alive.

Hi.  I know I’ve been gone an awfully long time.  This time it’s not because I was being lazy, or avoiding things… It’s because life decided to really challenge me and my sanity.  In the last two months I’ve had (in no particular order):

-a broken refrigerator

-a stolen scooter

-a broken stove

-a few teaching issues

-a flooded house

-extreme lack of communication leading to confusion and my community classes getting canceled

-an exhaustingly epic trip to New York City

-several crises in my private/personal life

 

Oh, and I’ve been working on job searching and applications and researching my written thesis.

 

 

Anyway, I promise I’m working on new posts for you all about the show and studio happenings, it’s just been slow goings.  I’ll also share with you my trip to NY…  Just please be patient.  Please?  I’ll bake you cookies… No, wait I take that back. Baking won’t help anything (except allowing me to eat my feelings) because then it will take me longer to get these posts out.  THEY’RE COMING, I PROMISE!  Until then, enjoy this picture.  I even took it myself, with my DSLR!

Empire State Building_08

Advertisements

Public Critiques are Somehow Less Anxiety Inducing…

Another thing that has kept me from posting recently was a visiting artist event in which I was involved.  Although this one I didn’t know I was participating in until nearly the last minute…

FSU brought in Stuart Horodner as part of our visiting artist lecture series.  He’s the boss man in charge at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and just recently published The Art Life:  On Creativity and Career (Which was a really good book by the way), and one of the faculty arranged for public critiques to happen.  Four grads were selected to have their work reviewed by Stuart, but we didn’t get told about it until a week before it was supposed to happen…

As I’m sure you can imagine, that was a little stressful.  I was less worried about the actual critique then I was about figuring out how to install my work in the gallery.  It was chaos for a little while… I had to go buy TVs and export videos several times, battle difficult projectors, paint things, oh and I had to read the book…  But it turned out just peachy keen in the end.  I showed an updated version of my Bending the Break/Breaking to Bend video, with a new audio component, and Fairy Tale Logic.  Bending the Break/Breaking to Bend was pretty much installed as I had it installed at Working Method back in January, but I finally got to install Fairy Tale Logic the way I’ve always wanted to… On two monitors!

Fairy Tale Expectations, Video Installation, HD Video, 2012
Fairy Tale Logic, Video Installation, HD Video, 2012

As a really awesome bonus, Craig Drennen, who is currently a studio artist at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, an instructor at Georgia State, aaaaaand the dean at Skowhegan, came down with Stuart to participate in the critiques.  While my peers may or may not agree with me, I had a really great experience.  The main thing that I wanted to get out of the crit was that someone, outside the hermetically sealed environment I have here at school (yes, that may be a little bit of a dramatic way to describe it), related to or understood the things I was addressing in my work.  Between all the doubt and frustration I had been experiencing lately, this was really the best thing I could hope for.  And I feel like I got that, as well as just positive feed back in general.  For what ever reason, I found this process much less anxiety provoking than our usual reviews…  Which I told to my committee head.  The way that Stuart ran the reviews was critical, but constructively so.  I sometimes feel that our committee reviews are not so constructive…  But again, that’s my opinion.

IMG_0452
Me being critiqued… Rocking the bright pink blazer my friend convinced me to buy and wear to the SPE conference last month. Her logic for the pink blazer? No one can forget the girl in the brightest, pinkest blazer that ever existed!

 

For some more pics and info you should click HERE!

 

In any event, this was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far in grad school.  It came pretty close to the Guerra de la Paz collaboration last spring…but not quite as awesome!  Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to show you how the battle scar I acquired during that installation looks now:

Not to terrible, but you can still see the three distinct scars from falling through a chair!  I love it :)
Not to terrible, but you can still see the three distinct scars from falling through a chair! I love it 🙂

Why can’t grad school just be awesome experiences like these?!

On that note… Adios!

Thwarted!

Do you ever feel like no matter what you do you’re thwarted?  Despite the fact that you’ve made a good or right decision, or that no matter how good your intentions everything just fails?  Yeah.  That’s me right now.

Here.  Look at some studio pics.

My studio is a disaster right now.  It’s driving me crazy.  It’s so messy that it’s overflowed (ha!  water joke!) into the space next to my studio.  I hate messy spaces.  I find them distracting.  But I guess that’s what happens when you’re WORKING ON SIX MILLION THINGS AT ONCE.  Ok, I’m not working on that many things, but it feels like it.  I’m used to working on one project at a time, and this is confusing/overwhelming for me.  But my committee head thinks that this is a good thing for me.  I don’t know about that.  I might just lose my mind as a result.  I’ll keep y’all posted.

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.

Looming Deadline: Impending Anxiety Attack

In a little over a week I am supposed to be doing a performance here in town.  I voluntarily opted to do this, thinking that it would be a great motivator to flesh out some ideas and get the ball rolling for the semester.  And then I decided to double it up with a required performance for my Performance History and Practice course, still foolishly thinking I would be fine.  But I am not.

I still have no idea what I am going to do…

Well, technically that is a lie.  I have a general idea of the themes and concepts I wish to address, but I’ve got NO clue exactly what the performance will be.  And I’m fending off an anxiety attack because of this.  I swear I’ve been thinking about this for weeks.  Before school even started actually.  I’ve been doing research, and brainstorming… I haven’t gotten anywhere.

My intended concept for this performance revolves around reality versus expectations,  using the themes of failure, futility, and anxieties that I have been dealing with over the last year or so.  I was thinking about how hard I often making things for myself, frequently choosing the most difficult or involved manner of performing tasks.  This in turn made me reflect on the way that my expectations are often drastically unrealistic, and that disconnect between expectation and reality is very likely the source for much of my anxiety.  Additionally, for me, there is a factor of repetitious, and sometimes destructive, behaviors, because I refuse to give in, or to do something in any other way than I envision it.  In a word, inflexibility.

In it’s original iteration, the idea for this performance was a video of  me running and jumping for a tree limb, just out of my reach, over and over and over again.  Until I was exhausted, possibly bruised and/or bloodied.  That then evolved into a performance of me attempting to jump over a limbo stick that was placed at a height which I could have easily walked under.  Again, repeating this same pointless and destructive action, refusing to admit failure or adjust my behavior to a more appropriate course of action.  But the reason neither of these ideas came to fruition, is that I see them as a bit to literal.  Like one liners that will cause a laugh, but not provoke thought.  With the limbo stick idea, there was a factor of physical technicality too.  The performance is talking place in a space which I cannot permanently alter, making it difficult for me to construct some type of structure which would allow me to repeatedly throw my body against it and have said structure still remain standing.

And that brings me to my current quandary.  I have no idea what to do…

So I am going to continue to write about this and hope for one of my magical moments where everything connects and finally makes sense.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks doing research into Matthew Barney, specifically his Drawing Restraint series.  I will wax lyrical about my love of him in another post, but there are a number of things in his Drawing Restraint series that parallel some of the things I want to do or am thinking about in relation to this performance.

The thing about all of Barney’s work, is that it is informed by the practice of hypertrophic training.  Briefly, this is the way that athletes train their muscles at increasingly difficult levels in order to build up strength.  According to Nancy Spector, the chief curator at the Guggenheim (or The Gügg and The Husband and I sometimes refer to it) in New York, this informs the fundamental tenet of Barney’s practice:  Form cannot materialize or mutate with out struggle against resistance in the process.  In the grand scheme of Drawing Restraint, Barney willingly puts himself in ever increasingly difficult scenarios, using extreme lengths to create a mark or create form.  It’s really pretty fascinating.  Thinking about that, you see the desire to make a mark, or more basically to create, and then you contemplate the accompanying restraint and training required of creating.  So in this really beautifully, and mildly absurd way, Barney is challenging himself, level by level (a theme also seen in his other major body of work The Cremaster Cycle, to make a mark.  Barney is also a proponent of using art to overcome psychological division and conflict, which is very much right in line with where my thoughts are these days.

I’ve also spent some time looking at an artist, William Lamson, a fellow student recently brought to my attention.  In his work I see so much of what I want to convey.  There is this sense of tension and self-defeat in his work that I find completely compelling, particularly in his Actions series.  He very carefully choreographs events in his videos, expending tremendous amounts of time and energy in the process of creation, knowing that the moment he initiates the plan, he is actually pressing a self destruct button.  When you watch these videos unfold, you hold your breath with this feeling of anxiety and anticipation because you know exactly what is going to happen and that it is all going to be defeated.  You are watching self imposed failure.  The scary thing is, I can completely relate to the train of thought.  I can understand and predict the outcomes of my actions or behaviors, and see the possibility for failure.  In fact, no matter what, there is always a possibility for failure.  But that version of events is totally overshadowed and out weighed by the prospect of successfully executing something to my exacting expectations.  So really, it becomes about this tension between the reality of the situation and the expectation, about the inevitability of the out come.

Which brings me full circle back to the expectations versus reality thing.  And for some reason I keep thinking about this scene from 500 Days of Summer, one of my all time favorite movies, and possibly one of the most brilliantly filmed scenes ever.

I just keep watching it over and over again.  Obviously the content is not what I am trying to get at, but there is something in the format that really intrigues me.  The whole movie is brilliant really (and it doesn’t hurt that Joesph Gordon-Levitt is in it, or that there’s a lot of Regina Spektor’s music), but this scene has stuck with me since I first saw it back in 2010 or so.  And no, I didn’t go out of my way to find a JGL connection here.  It was a totally organic happening!

I think the question here is how do I put this all into the meat grinder and distill it into something?  Can some one answer that question for me?  Is that like asking someone to do my homework for me?  Nah… We can just call it an artistic collaboration.  😉
So, no magic moment yet, but maybe it all just needs to process?

 

Oh, and of course, the video clip is not mine.  I wish.  If it were I wouldn’t be in the position I am!

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.

Since Tomorrow is Florida’s Primary…A Little Political/Literary Humor

So tomorrow is Florida’s primary day.  Of course I am going to participate and do my civic duty…or is it doody?  Either way, it’s happening and there is no way anyone can stop it, because I Give a Fuck.  But to most, AKA the average citizen, local primaries are like the birthday party for the lame second cousin to the presidential election…the one where no one shows up.  Boo to that I say.  I mean really, how inconsiderate!?  People go through so much trouble and expense, and then… Nothing!  Uninformed, disinterested, and uninvolved peeps.  What I think politics needs is a little bit more humor.

 
Anyway, as I think I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been reading books by an author named Jasper Fforde.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE his books!  He has several series running, and I am forever waiting for his new book to come out.  He is super witty, funny, and, most importantly to me, absolutely freaking ABSURD.  I constantly recommend these books to people, but for some reason no one ever takes me up on it (with one exception that I know of, and she now LOVES his novels as well).

The specific book I’m reading right now is titled Something Rotten…

Credits to Jasper Fforde’s website for this image…IT’S NOT MINE!!!!!

I demand that you read his books.  If not now, then in the very near future, because they will make you laugh and smile AND think.  But right now I am going to force you to read part of one of his books because Something Rotten has a plot line about a politician and part of what Fforde does so wonderfully is lampoon politics and politicians.  So obviously reading this book was quite timely, and I just want to share with you what is possibly my favorite scene from a book ever:

“Good evening and welcome to Evade the Question Time,
the nation’s premier topical talk show.  Tonight, as every night, a panel of distinguished public figures generally evade answering the audience’s questions and instead toe the party line.

There was applause at this, and Webastow continued:  ‘The show tonight comes from Swindon in Wessex.  Sometimes called the third capital of England or “Venice on the M4,” the Swindon of today is a financial and manufacturing powerhouse, its citizens a cross-section of professionals and artists who are politically indicative of the country as a whole.  I’d also like to mention at this point that Evade the Question Time is brought to you by the Neat-Fit® Exhaust Systems, the tailpipe of choice.’

He paused for a moment and shuffled his papers.

‘We are honored to have with us tonight two very different speakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum.  First I would like to introduce a man who was politically dead two years ago but has managed to pull himself up to the second-highest political office in the nation, with a devoted following of many millions, not all of whom are deranged.  ladies and gentlemen, Chancellor Yorrick Kaine!’

There was mixed applause when he walked onto the stage, and he grinned and nodded for the benefit of the crowd.  I leaned forward in my seat…

‘Thank you very much,’ said Kaine, sitting at the table and clasping his hands in front of him.  ‘May I say that I always regard Swindon as a home away from home.’

There was a brief twitter of delight from the front of the audience, mostly little old ladies who looked upon him as the son they never had.

Mr. Webastow went on, ‘And opposing him we are also honored to welcome Mr. Redmond van de Poste of the opposition Commonsense Party.’

There was notably less applause as van de Poste walked in…

‘Thank you, gentlemen, and welcome.  The first question comes from Miss Pupkin.”

A small woman stood up and said shyly, ‘Hello.  A Terrible Thing was done by Somebody this week, and I’d like to ask the Panel if they condemn this.’

‘A very good question,’ replied Webastow, ‘Mr. Kaine, perhaps you’d like to start the ball rolling?’

‘Thank you, Tudor.  Yes, I condemn utterly and completely the Terrible Thing in the strongest possible terms.  We in the Whig Party are appalled by the way in which Terrible Things are done in this great nation of ours, with no retribution against the Somebody who did them.  I would also like to point out that the current spate of Terrible Things being undertaken in our towns and cities is a burden we inherited from the Commonsense Party, and I am at pains to point out that in real terms the occurrence of Terrible Things has dropped by over twenty-eight percent since we took office.’

There was applause at this, and Webastow then asked Mr. van de Poste for his comments.

‘Well,’ said Redmond with a sigh, ‘quite clearly my learned friend has got his facts mixed up.  According to the way we massage the figures, Terrible Things are actually on the increase.  But I’d like to stop playing party politics for a momentand state for the record that although this is of course a great personal tragedy for those involved, condemning out of hand these acts does not allow us to understand why they occur, and more needs to be done to get to the root cause of–‘

‘Yet again,’ interrupted Kaine, ‘yet again we see the Commonsense Party shying away from its responsibilities and failing to act toughly on unspecified difficulties.  I hope all the unnamed people who have suffered unclearly defined problems will understand–‘

‘I did say we condemned the Terrible Thing,’ put in van de Poste.  ‘And I might add that we have been conducting a study in the entire range of Terrible Things, all the way from Just Annoying to Outrageously Awful, and will act on these findings– if we gain power.’

‘Trust the Commonsensers to do things by half measures!’ scoffed Kaine, who obviously enjoyed these sorts of discussions.  ‘By going only so far as ‘Outrageously Awful,’ Mr. van de Poste is selling his own nation short.  We at the Whig Party have been looking at the Terrible Things problem and propose a zero-tolerance attitude to offenses as low as Mildly Inappropriate.  Only in this way can the Somebodies who commit Terrible Things be stopped before they move on to acts that are Obscenely Perverse.’

There was a smattering of applause again, presumably as the audience tried to figure out whether “Just Annoying” was worse than “Mildly Inappropriate.”

‘Succinctly put,’ announced Webastow.  ‘At then end of the first round, I will award three points to Mr. Kaine for an excellent nonspecific condemnation, plus one bonus point for blaming the previous government and another for successfully mutating the question to promote the party line.  Mr.  van de Poste gets a point for a firm rebuttal, but only two points for his condemnation, as he tried to inject an impartial and intelligent observation.  So at the end of the first round, it’s Kaine leading with five points and van de Poste with three.’

There was more applause as the numbers came up on the scoreboard.”

Something Rotten, Chapter 3, Evade the Question Time, Jasper Fforde

 

It continues on in this manner, the absurdity increasing, which is why I love it!  I hope you enjoyed!  Now go to the library and check out his books!  🙂

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!
 
 
 

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!  😉

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.