Tracings No. VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and XI. Each 60 x 22 inches. ©2014
Stitched textile, acrylic paint, found papers.
So, I am still alive, and I am still making art, for anyone who might still be reading my blog after all this time. Among many things going on in both life in general and in the studio in particular, I finally have some new finished work to talk about.
About a year ago, I was invited to have a small solo exhibition at Visions Art Museum in San Diego. Naturally I was honored and excited, especially since there would be lots of time to make some new work for this show. But as usual, things got very busy, and August 2014 seemed like such a long way off and all, so…
Fast forward to mid June, and there is a voice mail from the gallery wanting to know more details about what I would be submitting. Still thinking I’m totally OK with the time frame, I call them and tell them what I’m planning. Six narrow vertical pieces to fit the designated space. Then, I find out they need photos of the finished work by July 15 to put into a brochure they’re going to print. Gulp! I had some other deadlines I was working under, and this was going to be a huge challenge. This was probably the one time in my life where I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to make a deadline. It was a terrible feeling. They would cancel my show and it would be the end of my art career.
The next few weeks were a roller coaster of emotion – on the one hand, total happiness and well-being during the process of making. On the other hand, fear and despair over how things were coming out. I should not be surprised at this by now; it’s as familiar as an old friend – the feeling midway through that what I’m making is utter crap and I suck, etc. Which is always followed by the “hey, maybe this isn’t SO bad…” leading to “OK, now I think I kind of like this…” as I keep working on it. The key is to keep going, no matter what. Work it through.
Here we see the total crap phase:
For whatever reason, it doesn’t look nearly as bad in the photo as it did up close and personal. And increasing the feelings of self doubt was the fact that I’d decided to do something I hadn’t tried before, which is a melding of two techniques that I’ve worked with independently in the past (process details here and here). I had NO idea if I was going to be able to make this work, which now that I think of it, was a really stupid idea.
Long story short, I did get the work done, and in the shortest amount of time it’s ever taken me to do one piece, let alone six. And that includes having my sewing machine break down and buying a new one (more on that later) plus hand-stitching all the faced bindings and sleeves. Perhaps I work best under pressure, but hey, let’s give ourselves a little more breathing room next time, OK?
The challenge was to make the paper areas blend with the backgrounds and not just look plopped on. You can let me know if you think I was successful or not.
Tracings No. VI, 60 x 22 inches. ©2014
Tracings No. VI, detail
Tracings No. VII, detail
Tracings No. IX, detail
And finally, the biggest challenge: Writing an artist’s statement. There are a lot of things that go through my mind as I’m working, and I have trouble distilling all of this into something that makes sense and also relates when viewed along with the work at hand. In many ways, my work is about everything and nothing simultaneously. Here’s what I came up with:
What does it mean to be human? Are we here as part of some grand design, put here on Earth by a benevolent creator? Or are we just the result of a random series of events involving tiny particles of space dust and electricity?
As human beings have evolved, we have developed various systems to help us make sense of our world. Language, mathematics, science, physics, artwork, music, philosophy, religion and more help us to understand, record, and communicate the lived experience of being human. And as we go through our lives, we feel compelled to leave traces of our existence, from the simplest hand-drawn markings on wood or stone to the most complex technological creations. We want someone else to know, “I was here.”