Why didn’t you tell me?
Why didn’t I tell you?
Installation from SAIC Low Res MFA Summer 2016 residency
This work points to a conversation, or at least an internal dialogue, that questions history. What happened back then and why? Aren’t those the fundamental history questions? Throw in…”and who thinks so?” and you’ve got the whole package from which meaning is made.
But what happens when history keeps turning on itself? One story gets written then new facts, emotions, characters, are added and one has to start from the beginning and overwrite that history.
History is often presented in our educational system as solid but, in fact, is fluid. What is the danger in accepting it as fluid and multidimensional? We are always looking for ground – as individuals and as a culture. In acknowledging the mutability of history, we give up the ground upon which we stand and find we are moving through an indeterminate, fluid space. What is possible in that fluid space?
In my current work, which is new since starting my studies at SAIC in Summer 2016, I began by mining the language of my personal history, creating a compost heap of meanings. The beholder is invited to enter the mess and overwrite my meaning with their own. This process is made explicit as the beholder becomes participant in the work, moving the language objects around the space and claiming bits with which to stand with and be photographed.
In experiments this summer, I was astonished to find that work which felt so personal to me could be so easily taken up by others and made their own with clearly different meanings. It was very liberating! I'm curious to see if this work will continue as a piece in its own right or if it is simply the booster rocket to the paintings that followed.
I have been strongly drawn to painting for several years. I've spent a lot of time looking at painting and considering it as an approach. I've assembled the materials. But, up until this summer at SAIC, I have not made a painting. The weight of its history and the physical presence of the object "kicked me out." Through conversations this summer with my advisor, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, and others, I came to understand that the experience of confrontation and difficulty I was experiencing was perhaps inherent to painting. It's a frontal relationship. You and me, baby. No way out. With sculpture and performance and drawing (the way I approached it), you can move around the space and be engaged in lots of different activity. But with painting, you are pretty much standing there before the thing and waiting to act, then acting, then waiting.
As one of my earlier teachers said "You can't protect yourself in painting." I think I finally get what he means.
I have four canvases at 5' x 6' and my intention is to focus my work on these four objects without a lot of other distractions. Narrowing my practice in this way is a big challenge for me and I'm curious to see what it will yield.
I imagine each painting as the surface for many paintings over the next year, hoping to practice non-attachment and continually paint over the image to see what the next layer will say.