Last week, I mentioned a big part of where my thoughts are, which aren't really with my studio work. I am only trying to have some faith they will work themselves back there eventually but for now, i trust that this is part of my 'research.'
I strongly believe that emotions have a strong impact on illness. I also think that illness creates a perspective that many people would struggle to find just on their own. I don't know, I could be wrong about that. I've watched, mostly from afar, as a few friends, family members, and acquaintances succumbed to illness over these past few years. Often I feel there is a spiritual awakening or at least an awareness that emerges. Perhaps it's a shift in priorities. I am waiting for my awakening. For now I continue to remain fearful and helpless when I allow myself to think about it. At most times, I work. Not in the studio but at my job. If I worked at the studio, I think I would have to face the emotions I am trying to tamp down in order to function. I am aware how messed up this is and that it does me no service except that my fall later will be from a much higher elevation when I decide to face my fears.
My day job is as a university gallery director and this week I hosted the artist Lydia Panas to campus for her exhibition. It truly is a delight to spend time with another artist for such a concentrated amount of time. Often, people have so much going on that we hardly have time for one another, but my job requires me to invest my time in other artists. It's a treat really.
I've known Lydia for many years and have always respected her work. I however learned so much more about her work, dedication and process during her visit. While her work is more pictorial, I find that our themes within our work are closer than I originally realized. For her, she photographs others to feel closer to them- but in reality, even though it is a portrait of another, there is much of herself in the images. The vulnerability, love, and longing are things she desires and the model becomes the means for expression.
What I find remarkable is the piece that is the relationship. While my work is rather one-sided, Lydia takes on the image of another, channels perhaps their internal thoughts and struggles, and uses that as a basis for their 'relationship' within the image. It is a striking way to work because you begin to see several approaches, ways of managing a certain concept- such as fear. And this might provide Lydia a better understanding of how that concept can be experienced or manifested. This seems to create a point of reflection for the artist while still treading a fine line of being one degree removed from the concept while simultaneously interpreting the experience of it. It's tricky!
This brings me back to evaluating my studio practice. Like an archaeologist, I tend to dig into the depths of my Self to pull forward more things to learn, such as now. Can I learn more about my fear from others? I read often about others who have had the treatment I am about to undergo. While I think that may alleviate my worries, it doesn't really address my fear. And I am not sure that I feel brave enough to handle the fear of others. It is a brave thing to take on another's image, pulling from them all their vulnerability. Perhaps in my next life, I will come back as Lydia Panas 2.0- braver, stronger, and willing to invite others into my life in this way. I think at this time, I still have much to learn as an archaeologist of my Self.