february 19

Strength: Asset or Liability? (A History of Errors)

I have been thinking very much about strength, physical strength.  I feel as though I've had a many of conversation about my body over the past number of weeks- whether its about my upcoming surgery and recovery, or what the nature of my performance work is, or just merely what it feels like to be in my body in all it's tiredness and tightness.

I had a massage yesterday and it was a huge reminder about how crunched into myself I have become.  It's an understatement to say that I am stressed.  I'm not entirely sure that i am the most stressed I've ever been.  That could be because maybe I manage stress better than I had in the past, or that I am not addressing the axis of where my stress stems from.   But I am stressed and it was never so apparent than when untangling the muscles in my neck, shoulders and back yesterday.  I cannot believe that I didn't miss the space that has opened up in my body all this time.

A History of Errors; erased graphite on assembled paper, silver leaf; 2013

I am thinking a lot about my patterns as of late.  Believe me, it relates to what I'm talking about.  I tend to cherish my strength and wear my stamina or 'stick-to-it-ness' as a badge of honor.  I tend to 'stick to it' for much longer than what could be thought of as healthy, in some people's opinion.  I question if I lack confidence that I should deserve anything better or if I am way too optimistic that I can turn a situation around with my proven dedication.  It's an on-going pattern in my jobs and relationships.  The funny thing is, I figured this out in my studio work once I nearly had the ability to make work taken away from me (due to an accident).  My 'come to Jesus' moment had its impact, fast and swift.  I spent months evaluating what path i would take and I came up with the decision that my work need not be limited by medium (much like many artists who call themselves either 'painter' or 'printmaker,' 'potter' or 'metalsmith.'  Funny, sculptors don't define themselves as medium oriented like the others I just mentioned).  When I allowed myself to call myself 'sculptor' instead of 'metalsmith,' a huge window of opportunity opened.  

As I think about how my work evolved over the past 20 years, I sometimes question if it is an asset to allow the concept to drive the medium or does it just indicate a lack of discipline?  Those are probably the moments of self doubt I frequently have.  Today I don't think that- even though I am frustrated on my lack of studio progress.  Where I am questioning my patterns is in my life choices, as of late.  It's been a tough few weeks- I've been down this path before and I used my strength and stuck it out.  It didn't result in much because some situations are a sinking ship much bigger than I.  Regardless, there are so many aspects of what I accomplished that I miss.

My pattern always starts off with a boat-load of optimism.  It's a wonderfully creative place.   I act with that optimism and eventually run into roadblocks.  I work through road blocks- many times to come across more road blocks.  The more road blocks I work through start to wear on me.  Clearing road blocks don't feel like accomplishments the more I encounter them.  I feel sour but not hopeless.  I take ALL the responsibility, even though it probably doesn't all belong to me.  I keep going, trying to remember the big picture.  Then there is the point where the big picture starts to seem like a pipe dream.  I lose hope.  The responsibility of failure begins to weigh on me.  As I have aged, the weight has its impact- I feel it in my body.  It manifests there and feels like an albatross of a reminder.  I've been down this road before- is it silly to let it run its course again?

body sized drawing

A few years ago, I tried so hard to embrace the mistakes and all the things that never went right.  That the beauty was in the journey, not the result.  I really REALLY felt that while I made my drawings, the drawings that led me to performance.  I think I now hope for a similar epiphany- or at least an understanding. You know the phrase "art imitates life"- well, in this case, I am looking for life to imitate art.  I. am. not. cutting. myself. a. break.  I am trying to figure out the path and as I wander, it becomes more and more painful.  I feel guilty to be sick even though part of being sick is probably a result of trying to be strong.  I truly believe that emotions impact our physical health.  I am desperate to realize the lesson in this experience.

I pictured a History of Errors (2013) in this blog.  I love that drawing for so many reasons.  It was the drawing that reawakened my body; it was the meditation that allowed me to honor the beauty in my flaws; it was the beginning of seeing a body less as an object for things to happen to and more as a body that experiences the world its in.  

It's sobering to realize that one has so much still to figure out.

february 12

The Challenge of Communication

I explore aspects of the Self through drawing, sculpture, and performance.  Using the body as a form of measure, my studio practice is focused on how the actions of the body can imply more about the internal monologue.  We often communicate more than what we say through functions of our body.  If one pays attention, one could learn much more about another beyond language.  It is in one’s posture, the color in one’s face, the beat of one’s heart, etc.

Much of what I have been exploring has been this space between longing and alienation.  It's a place of duality because of its tenuous nature that can tip to either fulfillment or isolation.  While these pieces are very much self-exploratory, I am keenly aware that there is much control I relinquish due to a lack of articulation.  These works challenge 'the other' to engage while proving their commitment to do so- and the pay off is an utter honesty that one would not divulge if the commitment was not proven.  

I know it sets up a situation of disappointment most of the time.  I know that I struggle with expressing myself in this way.  I also know that personally, I am far more articulate in my writing than I am speaking.  It's probably my INFJ personality.

But I've really enjoyed studying this about myself within my work.  It is something from my personal relationships that I pass forward to my relationship with the viewer.  In my morse code videos, I wonder if anyone actually takes the time to decode them.  I'm not sure that anyone has- and to me, that is telling, and reinforces all my messed up expectations of feeling rejected, or not being good enough to hear what I have to say.  Talk about all those coming of age insecurities that were never resolved!

Semaphoric Alphabet

So while I explore the morse code pieces further, I recently sent a residency proposal off that uses semaphoric gestures.  You know what that is- it's the waving of flags you see lifeguards at the beach wave to other lifeguards in the distance.  I'm very interested to using the body in these visual gestures to divulge the depths of our thoughts.  Part of my proposal suggests that written word should be performed within a close space, suggesting the distance one must travel emotionally to truly connect with another, even if they might be right next to me.  

I'm semi-concerned with learning the language.  My memory is terrible.  My penchant of learning other languages is terrible!  While I think I can memorize the gestures to a poem, I think if anyone would choose to respond, that it would be difficult to me- fitting, yes?  Because in all reality, I can be overwhelmed by a dialogue and then doesn't that put me back to square one?