Don’t Stop

“Don’t stop.”

This has always been by personal motto when it comes to making work. A lot of things can fall under the umbrella of “don’t stop,” like:

  • don’t stop making
  • don’t stop brainstorming
  • don’t stop planning
  • don’t stop researching
  • don’t stop reading

In an interview about a year ago, I was asked if I had any advice for aspiring artists. My answer? “Don’t stop.”

So this past week, I didn’t stop. I kept working and working like always, preparing for my next critique. Everything is starting to come together, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m really pleased with the feedback I received last week about my sheet installation, especially the bits about taking the viewer on a journey. That’s exactly what I want to do with that installation, and I’m glad I’m on the right track. The feedback about engaging the sense of smell was also so important, and I’m totally going to experiment with that. This is why I love critique in grad school: it’s constructive, my peers are brilliant, and it makes the work better in the long run.

I sewed all the bears I’m going to need for my video piece, which was fun and creepy at the same time. Call me weird, but when I was drawing the faces on each and every one, I had the feeling that the bears were judging me, knowing fully well that I was going to mutilate them via fire, explosions, drowning, etc. I felt guilty, mais c’est la vie. They have to meet their fate.

 

I did a lot of filming this week of destroying some bears, and I found that sometimes my methods were too ludicrous. For example, this clip where I attached a bear to a rocket… The laughing for the last 20 seconds of the film basically sums up just how ineffective this approach was.

 

 

There’s a fine line I’m walking here, and it’s good that I’m making mistakes, because I can figure out what is working. With destroying these teddy bears, it can either be haunting/uncomfortable, or completely ridiculous, like with the above video. I love it. It’s good to see what isn’t working, but I don’t want the videos to be funny. I’m talking about childhood sexual violence, which is not a funny topic at all.

I’m still cranking out self-portraits, and I had some problems I needed to address.  I’ve been manipulating physical prints, which has been great because the textural components are interesting to look at, but the problem of longevity has cropped up. Some of these experiments simply can’t exist in the real world, because whenever they are touched they flake off. I will try to preserve them with polyurethane spray (recommended to be this weekend by a brilliant artist at SPE,) but in the meantime I photographed them. So now, they exist as a document to the process, instead of having the artifact.

This particular print I burned, re-photographed, and then went in and filled the holes created by the burns with black. I could fill the holes with other things, but I don’t know. I like the black, it’s like a void, and I think that speaks on a psychological and visceral level, especially the black hole over the vagina.

For the image below, I poured resin. It took me five days to get this many layers, because I had to wait for the resin to dry between each coat. I was thinking a lot about how trauma can make a person feel stuck, like a fly in amber, or about being stuck in tar, or goo, feeling gross but you can’t move.

So, I’m still going. I’m not going to stop. Sometimes it gets hard, especially since the subject matter I’m working with is so personal, but that’s just my reality. I chose to work with this content, and I’m going to continue.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my process and how I work on a few things at once. The way I see it, I’m building up an archive. Trauma, in all of its forms and not just childhood sexual trauma, is complex. I don’t think it is possible to cover its complexities in just one rendition of an idea. I mean, look at Boltanski’s work: he makes so much work and it all fits together like a messed up puzzle. I’m confident in what I’m doing, in this process of mine that seems all over the place, because I know it’s not. I’m confident in this fact.

Everything I make informs other pieces. The portraits, the razor blades, the videos, the sheets… Sure, they could exist by themselves, but all together they create a story, an archive about the complexities of the topic I’m dealing with. I may be a first year graduate student, I may not know what I’m doing sometimes, but my process is something I am 100% confident in, and I’m proud of that.

So, don’t stop. I won’t either.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Stop

  1. Your are fearless in your work. It demands respect. Please, please don’t give up. I won’t either. Are you familiar with Diane Victor’s work? A South African artist. She deals with a wide range of topics, politics prior 1994 when we had our first democratic elections. Portraits of children lost, taken, done in candle smoke, don’t know how she preserves it, probably also a fixative of some sort. The bio on http://www.artprintsa.com/diane-victor.html reminds me of your work. Search her name ”Diane Victor South African Artist” and her many styles will come up at various art galleries.

    • Thank you. Let’s continue to do our best! I am familiar with her work, I haven’t thought about it in a really long time though, so thank you for the reminder! I’ll be sure to research her work further.

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