MONDAY, 9 SEPTEMBER, 3:11 PM
Reaction to yesterday's posts has been interesting. One suggests that I'm adorable. Another ripped me a new hole. (The adorable respondent also suggests a mid-life crisis. Didn't I do that last year?)
I think I am experiencing a crisis of feeling, expressing or emoting. A lot of my frustration is aimed at my professional life, but when I consider this I realize its not to blame. I love my job, the freedom it allows. Yet, I'm coming to see that the nature of my work, leading a program, has affected me in ways that I hadn't anticipated or previously seen.
There are some things about leadership, like making decisions that others count on, that become draining over time. There's also the reality that you can't always vent your feelings without the risk of others hearing your frustrations; especially those frustrations that don't have to do with policy and, ultimately, can't be part of your process. In the end, I've learned how to compartmentalize a lot, learned to keep my feelings hidden. It's not a good thing in the long run, but has been an effective strategy for being a "young" director. Now that I'm no longer a "young director," I need to establish a new way of acting in my role, drawing, perhaps, on real accomplishment and experience.
I also have to factor the treadmill I've been walking this past two years. Being a full-time student while working full time has been a real drain of emotional and intellectual life. I'm not sure that I'd give it up, but I do need to develop a new strategy for balancing my professional and art practices. I was reminded, walking to work this morning, that I dont have a spiritual practice, per se, and that developing one might help me to better balance the various pressures in my life or, at least become more mindful.
It's funny, I know that a lot of the images I've been making are seen as being narcissistic (in a bad way), but I've been thinking about the narcissism in my work in another way. I'm creating a certain kind of world with my images; one that both reflects my experience (which IS queer) and one that projects desire onto the real-time world. I've not been happy about a lot of the choices that I've made in my life, especially when those choices have been about professional advancement rather than about personal fulfillment.
I still have a flicker of idealism in me and I think I'm experiencing a moment in which the flicker wants to become a flame. Again, when I think about narcissism in my work, there's a sense that I'm all dressed up with nowhere to go. The web's become a kind of surrogate living in that regard. People certainly LOOK here. And, judging by the mail I receive, people SEE me in this space. The conversations I have on-line are among the best I've ever had and I often find myself hoping that I'll have similar conversations in real-time. I do, of course, have great conversations in real time, but the consistency of great conversations on-line has me wondering whether I've positioned myself badly in the real world and questioning how I might re-position myself.
My psychoanalytical self is starting to deconstruct all this and is asking the myriad questions of the origin of all these rapidly surfacing neuroses. I have clues and hunches about it all, although I'm not sure its useful for me to try to draw them out in this entry. I've probably written about them before. If I haven't, they'll probably be written about soon.
SUNDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER, 7:50 PM
Es got me thinking about "true love." While I deny that I believe in it, I find myself realizing, this lonely Sunday evening, that I really want a boyfriend. I started to wonder why I dont have one. I'm not sure that I like the outcome of my quick reflection.
For the last couple of days, I keep running into relics of Bill. It started last weekend when I was cleaning out the shed and found his roller blades. I put them in the trash and then took them out. I couldn't see them go. I told myself that I would take them to Salvation Army and insure that they got future use, but I suspect that I'm just holding onto him and trying to keep an illusion of the relationship alive. I have no conscious belief that he'll be coming back, nor would I really want to re-enter that relationship, however, I do hold onto the security that the relationship allowed.
This takes me to the reflection. I realize that I've never really entered into a relationship. Sure, I've dated a lot of people and even had some LTRs, but, truth be told, I always had an ace up my sleeve, always kept a certain part of my core reserved and hidden from my lovers. Certainly, some of them have known this and some have even called me out. Early on, it was easy to rationalize that it was all a by-product of homophobia and a reasonable self-defense mechanism. I'm starting to see that it's not just about protecting a part of myself, it's also about admitting desire.
I was talking with K the other day and talking about the aversions of another friend. He said, deadpan, "Oh, just like you." Today, he made a similar comment about how I scare everyone away. On reflection, I think he's right. I know that I dont share my desire with him, mostly because he hurt me so deeply. Although he's the person Im closest to, I don't let him know what I feel about a lot of things.
I suppose this is all aimed toward the idea of risk and my aversion to taking certain kinds of risk. As I prepare to make the most of my sabbatical, I should consider how I might engage these gaps.
SUNDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER, 7:30 PM
I've had a good few days in the studio, although I'm not yet ready to post new work to the site. I'm not sure why Im hesitating. In the past I would put unfinished work up -- just to keep things alive. Now, I feel like that's not the right thing to do. I think some of it is that the work is changing so rapidly; more than that, the work is slower than in the past. I think it might be more considered.
I've been thinking about painting a lot as I've worked. Not just thinking about the work at hand, but thinking about why I paint, my intentions. I'm sure the looming portfolio writing has something to do with this. A couple of correspondences have affected me, too. I realized today that my current body of work has something to do with reconstructing memory / history. It's a funny thing to admit.
Some of my autobiographical painting is obvious in this way. The other stuff, although I've eschewed calling it autobiographical, instead calling it allegory, it, too, is about re-constructed memories. The repetition in the work is reminding me that there are feelings and experiences that Ive not yet resolved. A sense of loneliness and distance inhabits the new work. I'd thought that I'd moved beyond that, but am forced, now, to consider that these states of being are deeply ingrained.
It's also about re-constructing desire, developing a fictional autobiography -- one that's both reflecting experienced feelings and projected desire.
The other day, I was thinking about painting and made these notes:
I paint for a queer audience. My work is intended to uncover and represent the lives of queer people, primarily queer men.
The work is grounded in my own experience and draws on representations that I have encountered or experienced.
Like Fairfield Porter, my work is about documentation. He focused on representing suburban life at a moment in history. Likewise, my work is grounded in a time. This provides content. The nature of the experience, though, is the prime source of meaning-making.
I intend my work to be integrated in the daily lives of queer people eschewing the notion of museums or rarified spaces. I would rather that my work be hung in a home or community center than in a space that is defined by its demarcation as a space that bestows legitimacy or high culture.
More to come.
THURSDAY, 29 AUGUST, 11:19 AM
From a note to E.:
It's easy for me to get caught up in the allure of elitism because there is something interesting and potent being discussed in those circles. Yet, when I think about my core values, why I make art, it's not because I want to be accepted in thhe conversation / be in the right galleries. Yes, that would be a nice bonus, but I want to make art that affects people.
There's too much sorting that occurs in our society -- especially along educational lines. So the notion of high art doesn't play well with me. There's often too much foundation necessary for the viewer to be viscerally affected. I suppose that's why I've started doing figurative work. Whether the audience will get myreferences or not is up for grabs -- the queer themes, etc are part of their own iconography, to be sure -- but viewers can connect to my paintings on the recognition of the body. Surely, there's room to dismiss my work -- whether there's recognittion or not -- but there is a visceral reaction, the gaze of looking at another body, that captures a moment of recognition. The work for me, now, is whether or not I can retain the viewer's attention and successfully invite them into a dialogue with me / the work.
WEDNESDAY, 28 AUGUST, notes over dinner
I can't seem to paint today. I spent about three hours in the studio and couldn't figure out how to make a painting. E's thoughts about painting coupled with M's recent critique have made it difficult for me to feel confident in my direction. I suppose the doubt is a good thing, but I don't have a good sense of it's foundation or the direction that it's engendering (yes, I am confident that it will engender direction).
I have a rgeat correspondence about intentionality right now, with a very smart man. It's helpful in thinking about the thesis; it's also asking me to question the painting. Sigh. Why are goodd, insightful interrrogations so disorienting? And me, the king of radical disorientation....
Well, I'm certain the break through will come. This morning over coffee it seemed so clear, but this evening it was impossible. Truthfully, it was a draining day. I expended a lot of creative energy doing an Americorps training and having some interesting conversations at the office. I'm also aware that my emergence as a "structuring absence" at the Swearer Center is taking a certain emotional toll.
Ultimately, I think I may be struggling with questions of composition rather than (or more than) content. E's observation that I work within the Golden Mean has me chafing to get out of a rut. Thing is, I don't even know whether I'm in a rut. Or if I'm onto something? I'm thinking of working outside the square to see if this changes things... Time to break out the table saw!
TUESDAY, 27 AUGUST, 9:46 PM
Another excerpt from a correspondence, focusing on what I get from this site. It's jarring to be asked directly what I hope to get from making all this. Here's my first crack at answering it:
You hit the nail on the head with the bit about teaching and learning. Indeed, I can't get away from this mode of engagement. My site is certainly preoccupied with this kind of inquiry.
I'm not sure that I have thought a lot about audience and what I hope to get from the viewers of my site. The gratification of which you write is certainly an outcome of what I've written. It is flattering to have people write me and tell me that they like what they write and see. yet, I don't think that the approval of strangers is enough to drive the work. do you?
I hesitate to speak from my core because it sounds hopelessly idealistic and perhaps a bit naive. Yet, your inquiry seems honest, so I'll take the risk.
I write and produce the work because I believe that the internet is a place where one can make an intervention. From a conceptual art standpoint, it's a fairly basic sort of intervention. I'm representing myself in a way that endeavors to be honest and try to represent myself in a way that I don't see others putting forward. This is something of a dodge because there are a good number of smart(er) queer web folk out there. Yet, my point of view is a little different from those I read, so perhaps i can embrace my own pretension and believe that I'm doing something useful...?
The dialogue that the site invites -- through correspondences such as ours -- allows me to see things that I don't already see, so there is an element of my own search that is inherent in the medium. I have a very smart friend who's helped me to see that the presentation of the work is at least as much my "art" as the objects / ideas that I present.
My site isn't impressive, in a technological sense. I use a site builder that is, essentially, free and is available to anyone with a computer. Indeed, if one has access to a computer and a digital camera one can produce what I have produced. The content, after all, is just a representation of my experience.
TUESDAY, 27 AUGUST, 1:02 PM
So much for getting back into the swing to the site. I'm succh a fuckin' slacker!
I was reminded of my absence by a fellow Goddard student who mailed me this morning. She asked some potent questions about Goddard and the portfolio process in which we're currently engaged. Here's part of my response:
I agree with you wholeheartedly that this last residency seemed different than our earlier ones. I wonder whether it's that we've learned what the community has to teach or if, as you say, knowing that it was our last go-round that we needed to distance ourselves, start to make the break? Goddard, whether a place or an idea, does reproduce the same conversations. There is a "core" (an ideology) to our program and it gets re-generated each residency -- with different metaphors, to be sure, but the message is consistent. I know that I made a conscious switch from being an engaged "student" to a helpful hand. It seemed more important to me to try to help the new students avoid some of the frustrations that I felt my first semesters. I suppose my hope is that they will bring the program to a new level -- perhaps allowing me some new insight as a future visitor? That may be idealistic, but I'm feeling fairly hopeful these days....
With regard to putting aside creative work this semester, I think that's a load of rubbish! I've said so to my advisors and (I think) they concur. Regardless of their consent, it's going to be my course. I think there is an evolution in the program that sees the need to remain engaged in the work while we form our portfolio. Having watched PM closely last semester, I know that most of the creative work in his portfolio was created in the process of assembling the portfolio. It didn't mean that the work that came before wasn't important to the final product, rather I think it reflected the fact that he needed to bring together his learning within the reality of his practice. I feel similar -- to your thoughts as well as to PM's experience.
I'm currently trying to get back into the studio. The weeks after Goddard were good to me -- a lot of out of town visitors, wonderful time with friends, and preparation for the academic year at Brown -- but these past weeks haven't allowed me the time to work. You've probably noticed that my site is somewhat fallow since my return from Goddard. I think this has something to do with vacation and the need for a break, but it also has something to do with the idea of transition.
By this I mean that I can sense (PH would say "smell") that change and transition is on my horizon. I've been underground, culling my strength to face these changes. Like you, I sometimes feel this is a little self-indulgent or self pitying, but in the broader view, I'm sanguine that it's part of my process. I know that in the little time that I have spent in the studio last week that the time off has been good for my practice. My work is stronger today than the work I put in the show. It's heartening to know that even when I'm not physically engaged in the work that I'm still "working." Percolation is an interesting metaphor for this -- the idea that my work is being filtered while I am distracted by other obligations. Maybe, "steeping" is a better beverage analogy? Well, coffee or tea, I'm satisfied that the work is getting richer as it stands waiting!
So, without making more promises to be present to the site, I do think I need to find my way back into the discourse of the web. Watch for me!
SATURDAY, 17 AUGUST, 10:56 AM
Well, yesterday I unpacked my office and found that I really like my new space. There are things that need to be done -- new chairs, the hallway needs painting, perhaps a new rug -- but, in all, it will be a good change for me. If nothing else, it is giving me a new perspective on the work, my role in the organization, and the possibilities of how I can be better at what I do. I'm startled at how a geographic change can offer the possibility of life change.
Vantage point is a powerful notion.
This morning, everything seems to be reminding me of the body. Et's journal entry on sex and pleasure evokes some powerful questions about the nature of the body and it's relationship to the spirit. I'm, of course, prone to thinking about this through the Cartesian divide and to consider the ways that we're trrained to think about actions of the body being separate from our interior lives. More than that, the way that the division between body and mind prohibits us from enjoying either, or, rather, being at peace with the joy that either piece allows.
While this is a construction of modernism -- this idea that point of view, separation is somehow suspect -- post modern ideas of particularity don't offer much better. Both emphasize that we are human and negate the possibility that we're something else that is simply having a human experience. What if we're spiritual creatures that are simply experiencing the universe through bodies? If the internal comes before the physical then we have the possibility of changign our vantage point and understanding of the nature of relationships. What if, inverting Et's question, sex is a sharing of spiritual energy rather than a sharing of bodies?
Buth that's too easy. Sex is such a complicated set of energies. There's sex for sex's sake -- which strikes me as almost completely physical. There's sex as personal exploration -- which seems to begin to bridge the divide but is, perhaps, too much about particularity. I think I'm interested in sex which is about mutual exploration and excavation. How is it that two people can make a commitment to use the physical exchange as a source of spiritual awakening?
Tantric sex, of course, is aimed in this direction. At the heart of such a practice is trust, though, and that requires a commitment to embracing intimacy. Although I may be exploring this too deeply from my own POV, risking some projection, I think that this notion of intimacy is central to solving the problems of our current world. The fear that underscores all of our lives is an inhibition to developing deep intimacy -- even when we are engaged in meaningful relationships.
I suppose straight people have a leg up on queer folk in this regard. Whether conscious of it or not, the nature of marraige offers the opportunity for being present to this dynamic. I'm not generalizing here. I don't believe that straight people are, a priori, actually engaged in this process, yet the nature of the expectation of marraige puts straight folk in the ballpark of this exploration, while the prohibition of marriage makes it harder for queer folk (especially men) from being open to the kind of commitment that would allow this exploration.
I don't want this to be a rant about queer marriage, though, and I'm not sure that I believe in the marriage rights movement. I'm more inclined to think that the whole nature of marriage (for queers and straights) needs to be re-oriented. If it were sex positive and focused on spiritual growth (rather than being a religiously sanctioned economic system) we might have the possibility for a different sort of transcendence.
This is starting to feel a little "automatic," though, so I should think about this more...
THURSDAY, 15 AUGUST, 4:02 PM
well, the movers are here and they're making a lot of noise as they move my office furniture from the 2f flr to the basement. It's a funny feeling knowing that I'm not to be in the office in which I have spent many hours aday for the past ten years. yet, I'm moving back to my first office -- making the transiton a little different. It feels like I'm coming full circle in some ways. Still, it's odd.
I'm hoping the move will allow me to see things in new ways, to understand my work with a fresh perspective. I often find myself bored and complaining about what I do. It's sad in that I have so much creative freedom and there's so much possibility in my career. I guess
we all feel trapped in our lives, in one way or another.
Developing a vision for life has always been a complicated enterprise. I'm never sure what it means to have a good life. it always seems like a goal rather than a state of being. that's, of course, a privileged position. It's also a confining position -- to never be satisfied with the here and now. In many ways, I think the hardest part of my life is the way that I defer happiness and replace it with work.
WEDNESDAY, 14 AUGUST, 10:25 PM
I've been absent from the site. Ethan reminded me of this when he visited this weekend. It's not that I haven't been posting regularly -- which can be forgiven in the summer -- it's more that I've withdrawn. Even when I have written, it's been distant, smarmy and a bit too "knowing." Et suggested that the project might be over, but I don't believe it. I think I've just lost my nerve and retreated into ease and irony. Perhaps, my concerns about being earnest are at the heart of this shift. Perhaps, I'm just too aware that I've created audience and, subconsciously, I realize that being boring might divert the gaze of those who might use my words to manipulate me in the real world. Perhaps, I'm just afraid of the real consequuences of transparency? Regardless of the reason for my withdrawal, I'm hungry again and will try to return to the practice of being present, open and revealing.
I spent a few days with Et and am amazed at the power of seeing my world through another set of eyes. It's astounding to be jolted into considering my choices and the form of my life because another -- granted a perceptive, sharp and hungry other -- has asked precise questions. Exchanging questions, trying to answer -- as hard as that is when the answers bring weight to a relationship -- forces a different sort of reflection. Reflection is often calm, it can provide solace and provocation, yet, just as often, it can be a defense in which we wrap our fears and doubts. It can be a balm that obscures the real questions that inform one's life.
I'm writing about processs, though, and avoiding the real issues that preoccupy me. I resist articulating these questions because of their potential ripples and affect on those around me., I have no wish to harm people, to make them anxious, so I will bracket my concerns and deal with them in my private journal.
I am concerned, though, in the ways that I've allowed the outside world to affect my art practice. It's been weeks since I've been in the studio. I have been doing research and attending to important relationships, yet the yearning remains.
I'm rambling now, though, and will end. Tomorrow offers another opportunity to delve deeper.
SUNDAY, 4 AUGUST, 11:10 PM
I had a revelation as I was leaving Goddard. At the closing session there was a palpable sense of the importance of Goddard to many of my peers. It's articulated as a community acknowledgement of the value and importance of one's process and practice. It betrays the lack of support and community that some folks feel in their daily lives. For me, it underscored the privilege and fortune of my own life. Going to Goddard is, for me, a process of stepping out of one supportive context and into another.
The need for community, for a sense of connection at Goddard always gets under my skin. Mostly its because its so individualistic and selfish. I'm over-generalizing, but I do always have a sense of concern about how aggressively people claim their space and how jealously they guard it. Of course, this approach creates conflicts and destablizes the very support that people are seeking. The general disregard for others that is demonstrated is often shocking.
It's no secret that my first two semesters at Goddard were rough. I lashed out at the program and deconstructed its premises. As I was departing yesterday afternoon I realized that I had projected my concerns about students onto the structure of the program and the faculty. My anger was not focused on the program or the faculty, they just provided a safe place onto which I might project my anger. The source off my anger was my fellow students particularly a few of the more advanced students who jealously protected the space that theyd carved out at Goddard. My rage was focused on their inability or unwillingness to dig deeper, to embrace ambiguity, to seek new, destabilizing answers.
This realization came when the first semester students articulated a similar dissatisfaction with some of our more advanced peers. Some of them used me as a foil and thanked me for my attentiveness and interest in their experience. I didn't do anything more than offer the most basic sort of support and encouragement, certainly nothing worth praise. Yet, it underscores the simple truth that community isn't entered or granted, community is constructed.
SATURDAY, 3 AUGUST, 10:22 AM
I'm back in Providence, but it's not fair to say that I'm back from Goddard. It's going to take a few days to make the transition. I'm not sure that I'm saturated by Goddard, but I certainly have a lot of notes and thoughts to sort through. I'm planning on laying low for the weekend and to slowly re-emerge next week.
Chief among my need for transition is a confusion about my portfolio. It's currently set up with a modernist / post-modern structure. Think James Agee crossed-dressed as Judith Butler. I'm starting to think that I need to write it with a more straight voice. Part of this is a strang sense that I'm being watched andd a lot is expected from me. I guess that's my own fault -- when you make yourself conspicuous you can't complain that folks watch you.
I've thought of the portfolio as something of a joke since I started with the program. I still find it absurd -- in that it has no audience, it is an academic exercise, it rips the writer from practice. I understand it's reflective importance, though. I need to figure out how to engage these critiques and make them work for me. The opportunity to be transgressive, expansive and progressive is too rich not to at least try to take it on.
This residency inspired me to think more about my practice as a progressive educator. I realize that this passion must be a thread of the portfolio. How I intertwine multiple passions is an interesting proposition.
I should have a first draft posted ssoon.
FRIDAY, 2 AUGUST, 1:59 AM
Weve just finished the last night of residency. The night was capped by the northern lights. Spectacular. Its a fitting end to my last summer residency, my last sunset of the Vermont summer.
Tomorrow is easy. My advisor has had to leave early and, therefore, we have no advising group. Im only obliged to go to the final group meeting and then I can get on the road.
Im excited to get home and back to the swing of life, but I am grateful for the week and the space that its afforded. I have a lot of new resources and ideas. Against my more rigid standards, I am going to miss this place and hope that I have the opportunity to return.
THURSDAY, 1 AUGUST, 11:56 AM
This place is so confusing. I get so many ideas here, it ignites my passion and it so thoroughly pisses me off. I realize that I am hungry for the the theory on which Goddard is founded and set myself up not acknowledging enough the failings and imperfection of the world and myself. I know that I could take delight in the contradictions, but often I forget that fact. Its hard, though, to set outside of the everyday and to have the carrot of hope dangled in front of me. The intensity, the potential that I see makes me more ravenous. Its a lonely location.
My notebooks are filled with observations, thoughts, ideas for new work and Im eager to sift through them. Unlike last time, I havent found the time to do extensive journalling. Ive been outside a lot, engaged, not holed up. While Ive been alone in many ways, Ive also felt compelled to be present to the "community" (or coincidence).
MONDAY, 29 JULY, 6:58 AM
A busy day lies ahead and I haven't eaten in nearly 20 hours. I'm not sure why karma failed me, but last night I got caught in a maelstrom of stuff and, although I thought I was doing the right thing at every turn, I missed dinner and got to the Mobile station 30 minutes after closing. The Mobile station was the last vestige of civilization (or at least consumer culture) for ten miles. I couldn't make the drive to Montpelier again.... So, here I wait, in this semi-arcadian environment, waiting for the refectory to brew some coffee and for the day to begin.
SUNDAY, 28 JULY, 9:39 AM
Yesterday's graduation presentation's were terrific and I've taken a bunch of note's that I will transcribe soon. Today's graduation, which means that this evening will be pretty flexible and I should have time to do some writing, etc. It's sad to face Philip's departure today and he seemed pretty sad about it, too. Funny, given all the time we've complained about this place, tto consider that we've become so connected, commited to it. Probably the emergence of Pam established a different dynamic for the trio -- if nothing else it created another point of persepctive and opened the tightness of the group. Certainly the new dynamic helped me to transcend the sense of paternalism that was smothering the first couple of semesters.
Right now we're waiting for new advisor assignments. It's like the Grammys. No one will care or remember about the "nominees" and whatever the outcome we'll all have a terrific semester, Yet. you can cut the anticipation with a knife. Go figure.
I'm not getting work done as I hoped. I feel a desire and responsibility to be present to the graduation process. Being in the party dorm doesn't help, either. At least I don't have to write a study plan -- that should free up time to get work done.
FRIDAY, 26 JULY, 7 AM
It's good to be back. The weather is terrific and catcching up with folks last night was fun. I am living in what is called a "co-ed social dorm." My room mate is a new student and seems great.
It's very strange to tell the same :catch-up" story to each person who asks how tthe semester was. It's gratifying that in the telling I am gaining a deeper understanding of my happiness and sense of fulfilment. I have accomplished a lot and Goddard has been an interesting measuring rod for charting my development.
Warm feelings aside, I'm still pissed that Goddard won't serve coffee until 8 AM!
THURSDAY, 25 JULY, 11:06 AM
I'm leaving for Goddard and feeling excited about the residency. This is strange because I've generally dreaded residency -- with is concomitant discomforts and general annoyances. Sometimes I believe that artists shouldn't congregate -- our preoccupations become disempowering. As a result, I tap into my oppositional personality and snap. This time, though, something's different.
I'm genuinely excited to see some friends. More than that, I have a plan. I have goals for this residency, which I haven't had in the past. I'm documenting them before I hit the road so that I don't lose my resolve in the face of the chaos that looms ahead. I need to maintain my focus and use the residency to my advantage.
A year ago, at residency, the idea of this site was hatched and it's put me on an interesting trajectory -- intellectually and emotionally. I've learned a lot about transparency from writing into the ether and not knowing, or caring, who reads these words. Sure, there are the freaky moments when I meet someone who already knows me and I certainly have doubts about the limits I've set for myself. I'm terrified that I'm becoming an internet celebrity and annoyed that so many people solicit me to post pics on porn sites. Yet, on the whole, this anniversary is a moment of celebration. I need to remember the meaning I have already made. I need to use residency to consider what's next for these pages.
I want to write at residency. I want my thesis to take shape. I want to be able to return knowing my trajectory.
I want to make photographs.
I want to learn from the graduating students.
I want to have meaningful conversations.
I want to avoid the bullshit, the whining, the victimhood that weighs down some of my colleagues.
I want to avoid being essentialized and to represent my facets and be seen as fully human.
Most of all I want to be fierce and focused on the future.
THURSDAY, 18 JULY, 9:04 AM
The summer is racing by and my head is aswirl with unfinished obligations. I set out to do a lot this summer, and I have accomplished a lot, but I find myself wondering whether I'll still be able to get to those things that I value while I also deal with all the unplanned things that are intersecting my life at the moment? Does that sentence even make sense?
I've been doing some writing and in the editing process I am seeing just how convoluted my writing can be. I use the passive voice way too much, bob and weave through ideas, and prevaricate WAY too much.
Today's a day for clear thought.
Too bad it's going to be humid and, like, 3 million degrees.
FRIDAY, 12 JULY, 12:11 PM
I feel like its the first day of my life. I had no idea how heavy this show had become. Last night was the opening, and although I had a anxiety attack on the ride to the show, on the whole I think it was a successful evening.
Here are some pix of the installation.
Now I want to get back to the studio and see what might emerge from my smoldering consciousness. If I learned nothing else last night, it's that the work I installed is finished. It's time to explore something new.
MONDAY, 8 JULY, 4:24 PM
Here it is.
MONDAY, 8 JULY, 2:24 PM
So, yesterday was yellow for a reason. Apparently, smoke from a fire in Canada was blanketing the New England sky. Funny how I had an instinctive reaction to it. Perhaps, I sensed that it signaled danger and I was simply engaging some flight impulse?
I'm more together today.
I hung the show this morning and it looks GREAT! I was so nervous driving down but the curator put me at immediate ease and helped me organize the show. The other artists are amazing. It was good to get positive feedback from the others and feel good about their work. Now, I just have to make it through the opening....
SUNDAY, 7 JULY, 5:36 PM
The day is yellow. I mean that literally. The atmosphere has been refracting yellow light all day. I know it's just a trick of the light, but it seems to reflect my mood, or construct it, or, or, or.... All I know is that it's eerie and is weighing me down.
I wonder if it's not the completion of the show settling in? I mean I know that there's more work that I want to do, but somehow it seems indecent to start new paintings while the show is still stacked in th studio. That's bullshit, I know, but I need some space before I can start something new. It's probably an important lesson for me to learn.
Nevertheless, I should be feeling good right now and I feel like crap. I have a freind coming over for the evening and I'm dreading the prospect of being sociable. I should have taken a rain check on our visit, but that didn't feel right either.
It's fuunny how life and sometimes feel more overwhelming than other times. I have a hunc it's about relationships and their complexity. It's about knowing what I want and not knowing what I want. More than that, it's about wanting something and not being able to have it. Damn human agency!
On the bright side, I know that there are a lot of things to which I am looking forward. I just need to accentuate the positive, eh?
SUNDAY, 7 JULY, 2:15 PM
Well, it's done.
The paintings have been made, selected, framed, and made "ready to hang." Tomorrow morning they get delivered. I'm elated.
I feel serene, too, because of the accomplishment. Right now, it doesn't even matter what folks will think about the work. Of course, by Thursday -- the opening -- that will probably change.
Funny, how we want what we want, eh? I wanted to get this show done. Now I just want it to be an opening to more shows. I don't have strng feeling about selling the work or even about whether folks like it. I'm not sure if I've simply built up walls of defense -- "the venue won't understand my work" -- or if I'm just really focused on finding the next "project" on whicch I can embark.
I'm excited about starting to apint again and eager to get the paintings out of the studio. In fact, I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day cleaning out the studio -- making the space in which the next body off work might emerge.
Oh yeah, I have an artist statement for the show:
These paintings represent potent personal allegories from the past several years. Although they draw from personal experience, they shouldn't be confused with autobiography or self-portraiture. Indeed, no painting is intended to form a full narrative nor do they necessarily draw conclusions on the questions, experiences or lessons I've faced in my own life. While they self-consciously draw on a variety of visual, narrative traditions, most notably cinema and comic books, each painting acts only as a "first" frame within a narrative that is jointly created by the artist and viewer. Each viewer has the opportunity to create her own version of the story; I've simply provided an opening for the discourse to emerge. Taken as a whole, the paintings intend to form a different sort of narrative arc. Again, the audience plays a critical role in establishing the connections within the narrative, suffusing the story with their own experience, bias, and point of view.
On a more straight-forward plateau, these paintings emerge from traditions of domestic painting and transcendental thought. Various influences, from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman to Richard Diebenkorn and Fairfield Porter, have helped me see meaning in the everyday. While the context of "my everyday" is a contested political and social sphere, I believe that the themes of my allegories -- friendship, love, sadness, despair, aging, resistance, continuity -- are universal.
I'll post the images soon.
SUNDAY, 30 JUNE, 9:47 AM
Well, I finally got the invitation emailed. If you didn't get one, it's not that I don't love you, it's just that I have a weird, two computer life. You'll probably get it when I sweep through my work computer on Tuesday. If not, consider yourself invited!
For better or worse, I'm at the end of preparing for the show. It's been a frustrating weekend in the studio. I'm not srre whether I'm onto something or if I'm blowing smoke up my ass. Well, you'll have to come to the show to judge that because I'm not posting the new images until I get the show hung. It's a hard decision to make, because I'd love to get the feedback, but I think it's only right to embargo the work until it gets to the folks who have enabled the body of work.
I think my frustration comes from knowing that I've mined my theme as deeply as I can right now and the work that I've been doing this weekend is largely derrivative of the earlier work. I'm eager to start the next body of work (which I'm starting to formulate) and to get back to the biological father. I suppose I should follow these instincts and just get down to it today. We'll see how yesterday's work looks in this morning's light. Maybe I'll find it's not as bad as it seems. Maybe I'll accept the likely fact that my frustration isn't in the work but in the world around me.
By that, I mean that I've been slowly coming to realize that a few of my friends are really dragging me down with their negativity. All they do is diss other people and complain about everything. I find myself thinking, "Drama often obscures the real issues." What is it about our need to make life dramatic? I may be a New England pragmatist, but I don't think it's too much to ask folks to get off their ass and make their own happiness. And, if you don't like someone, don't associate with them. More than that, leave them alone. They're just trying to get through the day -- like you and me.
It may sound harsh, but it ain't mean if it's true.
FRIDAY, 28 JUNE, 8:51 AM
I'm participating in a new collaboration.
We're just taking the first steps. Hopefully, together, we can make a road by walking. Or, at least, construct some meaning...
WEDNESDAY, 26 JUNE, 10:41 PM
I've been reading Marguerite Duras tonight and now have two questions and a statement.
Can one have a purely intellectual lover or is love necessarily corporeal?
Is it possible to create a suite of paintings that act as a play?
I want a lover with whom I can read aloud.
SATURDAY, 22 JUNE, 1:35 PM
ANSWER ME: Why is it that so many guys I meet want to drink my piss or have me drink their's?