I don’t think there is a way around being thrown for a loop when large scale loss takes place. In fact, the more I resist or try to carefully avoid a wormhole the more often I find myself wrapped in the trappings of self-comfort. I was halfway down a diversion path convinced the new visions I was having for my work were bigger, better and a gift of the kiln explosion this week, before I realized how uncannily familiar the situation seemed. It took many drawings, a few paper models and several conversations before I knew I was trying to escape the situation by embracing my defaults.
Just to be clear, I don’t think there is anything wrong with following one’s sensibilities. This is what makes what you do true to your beliefs. It is also unfortunately at the root of why it can be so difficult to branch out and move beyond a known way of expressing thought. I’ve been putting effort into observing the spaces in which my sensibilities contribute and/or detract from projects. This means the things I gravitate towards (life-size scale, direct messages, detail-oriented labor-intensive modes of making, and extensive research) are under my curious gaze and undergoing negotiation in each piece I make.
My reasoning for this has to do with my desire to create a sustainable practice making work that is generous in it’s relationship to the audience. I also want to give surprise and innovation a larger role in the outcome of each piece. And I’ve seen it work. Playing with my more recent pieces in production has led to more playful reception from audiences. Simply, it’s more enjoyable to make work that doesn’t contain a foreclosed meaning and correspondingly it’s more fun to interact with work that isn’t overtly didactic.
I began making “Landscape Series” this spring in an effort to rediscover “recess time” in my workday. It is comprised of found commemorative church plates that I’ve altered through a process of masking and then sandblasting the surface images. The immediacy and non-preciousness of each altered plate was freeing. I enjoyed making them more than figuring out how to talk about them. In fact this piece continues to unfold and shift meaning when I see it. I see it as a turning point for my practice.
The main challenge I’ve been facing is how to follow a regimented schedule of production (which I seek out in any medium) while simultaneously creating time for focused play with the objects that come from that production. Counting days backwards until a project is completed is part of what I’ve trained myself to do. I use to struggle with it. Nights without sleep, starved, drinking and smoking in excess have definitely shortened my life in the name of finishing work. And though planning well has yet to change the whirlwind of completing a piece, I have learned to embrace it fully. At this point organization has even become soothing, as have systems and strategies of production. The problem is (as you may notice from my use of language) that process and scheduling have become part of what I now have to keep in check so as not to rob my work of it’s potential.
Funny how things go.
So then, I am reassessing my value system in relation to the studio. While I enjoy being involved in producing well crafted work through various avenues of technical tomfoolery, I am also seeing the place for exploration. I believe I am finally reaching a point where timelines though necessary, are allowed the same suspicion I reserve for the first idea that pops in my head.