I finished a new sculpture this week, which prompted a little existential crisis about the whole body of work.
My therapist said that whatever this new piece represents is so painful that my brain is trying to protect me from it by telling me that there is nothing worth doing. It’s unusual for her to make that sort of pronouncement. Usually she’s more given to soothing noises and difficult questions. Usually I’m not having an existential crisis about my work. Maybe she’s right.
The next morning, I read this little snippet of wisdom in an article that my sister-in-law posted on Facebook:
“In those moments when you feel discouraged or lost in the studio, or when you experience rejection, rest completely assured that what you don’t know about something is also a form of knowledge, though much harder to understand. In many ways, making art is like blindly trying to see the shape of what you don’t yet know. Whenever you catch a little glimpse of that blind spot, of your ignorance, of your vulnerability, of that unknown, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to stare at it. Instead, try to relish in its profound mystery. Art is about taking the risk of engaging in something somewhat ridiculous and irrational simply because you need to get a closer look at it, you simply need to break it open to see what’s inside.”
Staring and relishing the ridiculousness and mystery has always been part of my process. I like to practice yoga in the front room of the studio, where all the girls are hanging. It’s especially important when I’ve just finished one. So I went back to the studio and unrolled my yoga mat.
Here is what the new girl (on the left) looks like when I’m lying on the floor:
I was going to call her “second brain,” but she insists that her name is “i know what i know.” When I’m feeling really sour, I think of her as “don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”
The crisis seems to be over for now, and I probably won’t take all the sculptures down and flatten them before my next open studio (6 February 2015). The idea of flattening them still appeals to some parts of me, but maybe I’ll save it for when I’m older and maybe I’ll make it into a party and ask people to help me.