In Albuquerque, work from class & from home. Includes classroom demos, hand-over-hand work with students, collaborations, experiments and work made with adaptive equipment as well as paintings & drawings created at home with a very limited range of materials.
This gallery has slowly gathered a small group of works, completed at VSA's North 4th arts center with and for our attending Apprentice Artists, using the painting studios' materials—mostly student-grade supplies well-used and shared with/touched by dozens of others. (The materials themselves bear the marks of others' usage—which sometimes shows in the work itself—an unintentional haptic transference.) The gallery also will contain some tentative home experiments or "look-sees" that are more self-prompts (for determining if I can recall how to make [x] thing in [y] fashion) than they are "works of art." I do like to distinguish between tries and completions, both being equally vital to the making process but each laden with a different sort of feeling and intent. This is a gallery of "tries" that perhaps lead to other discoveries and openings of new channels.
Without a dedicated personal studio any longer, and having arrived in New Mexico with nothing but a box of glass murrine and a satchel of cheap-dyed pearls, my own studio practice (newly resurrected) resembles the way I make art at my visual arts instruction job—with limited resources, finding makeshift work areas, and creating in between and alongside a dozen other entities and tasks that require my simultaneous attention. It is a mode of producing that, at first, impeded my functionality but now serves as balm for anxieties like some sort of wonderful white noise. Additionally, having "made" so little towards the tag-end of my last stint in NYC—due to unhappiness, exhaustion, creative paralysis, confusion and a need for flight—it is simply good to be working with my hands again, building my collection of tools again, practicing how to pull thoughts out of my head into the corporeal world again—as I have had to in the past.
To re-learn and self-teach as a remedy for conscious un-learning and forgetting—driven by trauma, upheaval or major indecision...as well as to rebuild following an undesirable setback, be it injury or loss, any sort of pain, any diverting of energies away from the creative towards survival or escape...is, more often than not, a painful process, and by now a familiar one for myself and observed in friends and family members. How often I have told myself I can not, should not make, because of a collection of guilts, progressive ailments, and mental unwellness...only to return to it months or years later with a feeling of necessity, I can not begin to count accurately.
These "tries" are not about sentimentality but rather the drive, of myself and many others I have met in my short time here, to pursue prowess that eludes us and doesn't come back easy. These "tries" are about failure and joy, frustration and acceptance, patience and self-love, and networks of support. These "tries" are about pieces of art, sketches, papers, cut-outs that serve as psychological and chronological landmarks.
By landmarks, I do mean, for instance, the dinky little collage up there that I nevertheless hold on to because it reminds me entirely of my first meeting with with a wonderful (and wonderfully frustrating) young Apprentice Artist at our program. I do not particularly care for that navy blue webbed scribble of mine, but it is an accurate and tangible marker of the moment I decided that I would make work alongside my students just to see how it would feel. I have written before about the progressing dementia of my paternal grandmother (and only living grandparent), and her propensity for destroying magazines and books, collecting piles of shredded reams, and her fascination with the precise geometric origami units one of her earlier in-home caretakers would fold for her; the discrepancy between her repetitious and destructive (and, seemingly, "meaningless") behaviors with paper, and the perfection of our ajuma's modular fold-forms. The violent gashes in our household books and the small collection of origami G-ma put together before she was moved into assisted living both serve as landmarks that help me recall our very brief time together and her behaviors which sometimes shocked and sometimes delighted me because of their overt impropriety. A scar is a landmark and a letter is a landmark and a piece of paper a student tore out of my hands is a landmark as much as a drawing or a painting is a landmark.
I began working at VSA North 4th (a day hab program for those on New Mexico's DD Waiver, with gallery + theater open to the public, and programming serving artists with disabilities) near the end of September 2014 (the 22nd of that month, actually). Learning to work with and serve a segment of our population that I never came in contact with in my previous life (or, really, frequently did but without realizing) has been and still is a hard-and-fast immersion that humbles me, scares me, breaks/re-builds me daily, thrills me, exhausts me, excites me and in all honesty helps me remember how to feel feelings and express unspoken words every hour that I spend inside of that colorful little building. I don't say this flippantly or gratuitously, but with complete sincerity and a hope that I can communicate the impact joining the instructor team continues to have on my own personal mental well-being as well as on my means of making, means of expressing and means of reception/perception.
I realize now that I have spent the majority of my life closely knowing those with progressive physiological disorders and significant obstacles in mobility; those with developmental disorders or newly declining cognitive abilities; those that survived strokes and those that succumbed to cancer; those living with untreated or untreatable illnesses and chronic pains; those who perceive this shared world in a manner radically different than I—those folks who I was often too young or underprepared to support as well as I wanted to, or possess an adequate understanding for. I consider, too, my own struggles with mental illness and consider those relatives and friends who have been institutionalized and have run laps through therapies and treatments throughout their teenaged and adult lives; those who passed away in the peak grip of a paranoid schizophrenia or a devastating anxiety disorder—many of whom belong to my direct kin...
I also then consider the concept of "creativity" among my peers, relatives, self, students and strangers and re-consider how best to stimulate release of ideas or translations of perceptions, catalyze catharsis, and provide tools from which one can choose in order to make and build successfully. I am learning, slowly, how to help others learn, and somewhere along the line I have begun reminding myself how to make and thrive as a maker, as well. This page is, in part, about that.
(I no longer work at VSA North Fourth. July 2015.)