In between (aka little collage drawings)

December 27, 2006 at 10:18 am (art)

I’ve been having a hard time keeping this thing up-to-date, and I’ve only barely gotten started.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with – and, in fact, have been struggling with this for the last few years – is how hard it is for me to say things about my work in the “This piece is about ____” format, where you state your neat little explanation in one quick blurb. I thought I would get more clarity in that department after I went back to teaching, but instead it’s only gotten more cloudy and difficult for me to do. I have learned so much about what it means to create and to make art through the experience of teaching, I can’t even begin to list the things I’ve gotten from it. Teaching is profound, spiritual, amazing – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. But it also sure does complicate things for me.

I realize now that the “This piece is about ___” format (which art galleries/exhibitions/PR people/etc thrive on) is total bullshit. I tend to think that it’s necessary bullshit; after all, press releases can’t be ten pages long. As much as I would love to teach an entire year’s course (three hour lectures, once a week) on a single work of art, that’s never going to really happen. There are things that are of interest to the audience and things that are of interest to the artist. I get that.

I guess I just don’t care so much anymore. I understand now that we all draw our inspiration, our ideas, our creativity from so much more than just the insular little world that is art; that my cat lying on the bathroom floor can spark an idea just as easily as a trip to the museum, and that one type of information isn’t really superior over the other. These aren’t new revelations by any means, nor am I even close to being the first (or second, or third, or hundredth) person ever to think them. It just seems more real to me these days then ever before and I’m sick of talking about my work like it’s so hermetically sealed from everything that causes it to be.

On that note, here are some drawings I made for the installation in Miami. They’re tiny – 4 x 6 inches – and they use collage and watercolor with stream of consciousness writings on the theme of being in between. I had an amazing experience teaching figure drawing this semester, sitting in the back of the room and watching strangers take off their clothes and pose in front of a group of other strangers. The moment that the models would take off their clothes, a hush would fall upon the class, and this weird mix of awe and respect and fear and uncomfortableness would settle in and then be consciously ignored while everyone just tried to focus on the task at hand. The models’ whole lives were written on their bodies: what they thought of themselves reflected in their posture; the wear and tear of a lifetime reflected on their skin. It was uncomfortable in just the way that I like things to be.

So here are some from that series. My plan is to make it so that if you click on image it will bounce you to my website and a bigger version… doesn’t work yet, but fingers crossed for later this week.

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This last one contains an image of a Vija Celmins painting with a gun firing – one of my favorite Celmins ever; a strange comment on the silence of a violent moment being like the sea or the sky… or so I think.

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