Oh Amy Wilson, where have you been all this time?
Ugh. I’ve been busy. Busy in that “collapsing after a 17 hour day” kind of busy, and also busy in that “endless navel-gazing, question-asking, living-in-my-head, going around and around, thinking too much” kind of way. The last few months have been a lot, and they culminated in the last six weeks of hell.
Over the last six weeks, I went from having a minor toothache to a major one, to a swollen face, to emergency surgery, to more surgery, to yet more surgery; loads of antibiotics that didn’t work, exhaustion from the non-working antibiotics and the infection itself, nightmares/depression/anxiety, seeing things my body SHOULD NOT DO, and finally – as of this Monday – a huge gaping hole in my mouth with about 20 stitches holding it together, loads of Vicodin, and yet more antibiotics. Not fun, and I’m not out of the woods yet. But I do kind of feel like I got a kind of break from the ordinary (bodyhorrorvacationinhell?) that is maybe giving me perspective on things… or maybe that’s just the Vicodin in my bloodstream.
Or maybe it’s that December is upon us, and with it the end of the year and all sorts of summing things up and wanting to put a nice cap on everything. I don’t even know anymore. But here are some things I have in the works, and have had in the works:
1. I was in a really nice exhibition at Montserrat College in Massachusetts. It doesn’t look like there’s a link up on their website, but we got some press from the Boston Globe, which was great.
2. More Art commissioned me to make a series of drawings for their Envision 2017 project, in which several artists are asked their hopes and wishes for NYC in the future. (One more set is forthcoming.)
3. I started my school’s first old-fashioned (non-digital, all by hand) Fiber Arts class, which takes up the crafts of spinning/weaving/sewing/knitting/crochet/etc in a school/city that is very craft-adverse. This has been a really interesting experience and has lead to all sorts of conclusions in my head that I don’t know if I’ll wind up going back on; everything from the growing generation gap between my students and other people my age (see footnote 1) and the difference between art vs. craft (footnote 2).
4. I’ve been a little obsessed with this drawing I made (actually a page from an artist’s book) over the summer, which combines drawing with writing and embroidery. Here, it’s out of context and the photo sucks, but maybe you can get a sense:
…and it’s informing the newest piece I’m working on right now (more info in a bit).
So, that’s a start – a first stab at getting back to normal and getting back to blogging! I’ll end it there to not go on over and over and over, then obsessively edit, then delete because it’s not good enough…
1. I’m amazed at the difference between my students’ opinion on art events vs. what you hear from the majority of artists, or at least the artists/art critics/dealers/etc of a certain age. For instance, my students are nearly unanimous in thinking that Chris Burden’s New Museum show sucks (I haven’t seen it yet, but have only heard glowing things from my colleagues); meanwhile, they loved Matthew Day Jackson at Hauser & Wirth, which was pretty universally panned by critics and fellow artists. I don’t think they’re doing it to be contrary; I think these are genuine reactions to a genuine difference in opinion. It’s interesting.
2. Thinking about the difference between art vs craft has been a nearly 20 year long obsession of mine; it’s something I want to eventually write a book or at least an essay (or something!) on. But my newest definition between the two is this:
*Art (at least as we understand it now) is somehow connected to the notion of the avant-garde
*Craft is connected to the idea of tradition and history
This is not to say that art cannot draw upon history. It’s just that art’s relationship to history is more antagonistic than craft’s. This is also not to say that craft cannot be innovative; it’s just that craft doesn’t seek to “kill the father” in the avant-garde sense. (This definition creates all kinds of problems – but, I should mention, they’re problems that I rather like. For instance, 19th century academic painting would now be re-classified as craft. To me, that feels right. It also eliminates the previous twin signifiers of craft – utility and materials – from the discussion. Given how much art has changed over the last 50 years, I think this is super important, and that there’s way more to the difference between the two than just “art is made from paint; craft is made from string” or whatever.) Anyway, this theory is very much still a work in progress, but this is what I have so far.