"The important thing about humor is that it opens people. They relax their guard and you can get your serious intentions across. If I were as didactic in my work as I really am, I would bore people to death. But, because I can put my message in a colorful, engaging form, my message isn't heavy."
- Claes Oldenburg
I had an interesting disagreement the other day with someone about the historical relevance of moments in popular culture - which stemmed from a commentary on some recent ridiculous events (e.g. a now infamous Miley Cyrus performance and numerous other twerk related incidents). My argument was simply that although of course such things are incomparable to more impactful historical markers they can still shape perceptions of our generation. In thinking about sexuality I find a lot of inspiration from public personas and trends. In a way I feel studying them is almost equally as important as brushing up on my feminist literature and research.
I recently read Touré's new biography of Prince, I Would Die for You, where he discusses how pop culture icons are really reflections of the generations they perform for. We see something in them we deeply relate to even though on the surface reasons why may not be apparent. He says, " Stars entertain us. Icons do something much more. They embody us. They tell us something about who we are and who we want to be. They are both a mirror and a shaping force." In some sad ways fame and iconography have transformed into different monsters than they were in Prince's prime. We lift people up for a host of other reasons, but regardless I think there's still a lot of truth to that idea.
I just got a new book in the mail! I've been wanting to read The Second Sex for a while now. Reading Paglia has introduced me to a long list of feminist texts that I am just barely getting started on. Other than this acquisition I have very little news to share at the moment. My projects are gradually progressing and I'm still steadily working. Here's an in progress piece and close up of more collaborative work with Elizabeth Arzani:
"There seems to be something that you can do so much with paint and after that you start murdering it. There are moments or periods when it would be wonderful to plan something and do it and have the thing only do what you planned to do, and then, there are other times when the destruction of those planned things becomes interesting to you. So then it becomes a question of destroying - of destroying the planned form; it's like an escape, its something to do; something to begin the situation. You yourself, you don't decide, but if you want to paint you have to find out some way to start this thing off, whether its painting it out or putting it in, and so on."
-- Franz Kline, Interviews with American Artists
I've been reading Interviews with American Artists, by David Sylvester lately, and it is really refreshing to see these reflections of great historical icons that relate so well to my own personal artmaking experience. So often I do feel more led by unexpected occurrences in composition or reactionary impulses rather than what I sought out to do before being faced with a surface. Increasingly my process is becoming more about these reactions and compositional elements.
Above is a snapshot of some in progress paper pieces.
It is interesting how some events in life that you may predict will be the most inspiring moments can blindside you with only offering distraction. Moving has proven to be more disorienting for me than I expected, and for this reason I have not posted anything in a while. However, I do now finally feel that I am beginning to get back into a groove and plan to have more of a presence here.
Right before leaving North Carolina I bought The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron for myself. It was recommended by a friend, and I know that based on appearance and subtitle alone, it seems to be a cheesy self help book. I can't lie and say that it isn't full of inspirational quotes and anecdotes, but really it is more of a workbook than a self help guide. It is filled with exercises and suggestions of activities to complete alone when you are feeling creatively blocked. A majority of the exercises involve writing projects so it doesn't seem to only cater to artists - I would probably recommend it to anyone. I definitely thought it was worth mentioning because I have been very thankful to have it around lately.
Since my return to North Carolina I have been attempting to focus more on crocheting and the completion of my nipple-adorned Breast Bombs. I have big plans for this project, and the handful of bombs I have now is only the beginning. I will keep posting updates on the progress but the fully realized outcome won't appear until at least next year!
Last week Elizabeth Arzani and I had our final painting exchange for our collaborative series before both of us make moves out of state. We had one particular piece that has been a struggle from the beginning. We traded it back and forth multiple times but each addition seemed to only further complicate the composition. Finally we came up with a fun alternative. Instead of coating the entire canvas in white gesso and starting over from the beginning we decided there were too many separate elements in the piece that we loved too much to destroy. So we spent about thirty minutes taking turns cutting out our favorite parts and creating a new selection of collage elements that will be re-purposed for our paper pieces in the future. It was interesting to see how the sections we chose reflected our very distinct painting styles. Most of my cut-outs consisted of contained shapes and lines, while Liz's were open areas of color and brush strokes.