The second two weeks at Alternative worksite have been good for me. The surroundings are feeling more familiar and comforting and I feel much more settled and solidified in myself and my work.
I have been working a few different ways- assembling smaller bits, mobiles, collages, and window sculptures, as well as making bigger figurative and architectural sculptures. I have been waking up spending the mornings and afternoons reading, listening, and absorbing things, and spending the late afternoon into night building things and doing physical work. This schedule has felt good to me and it is nice to have established this as a studio routine. I have found that I am definitely a night worker.
I am trying not to rush things, doing lots of research, and am really trying to listen to what my work need from me. It is relieving to not be so “go, go, go, go” in the studio, as I often found myself doing in Chicago. The new pace has really changed my approach to making things. For the first time in a long time I am most interested in my own relationship to my work rather than getting something right, or proving something for someone else. I am also really enjoying talking with the other residents about our work and research. I have shared writings, books, lectures, and studio visits with many of them and this feels like such a nice addition to having the time to be here and be with my work. I feel very clearheaded with no rush and it feels really good.
- “I was drawn into art because it isolated me from difficult dinner conversations where my father would brag about how good and wonderful he was… I took white bread, mixed it with spit and moulded a figure of my father. When the figure was done, I started cutting off the limbs with a knife. I see this as my first sculpture solution.” - Louise Bourgeois
- thinking about Louise Bourgeois reminds me of my 10th grade english teacher who would say to me she would always say “aren’t you being a little pessimistic?”
- “Surrealism is anathema for me. Because the surrealists made a joke of everything. And I consider life a tragedy.” - Louise Bourgeois
- all of my little tools have come in handy this week - little tweezers, little pliers, little cutters
- there is talk of a murder mystery dinner party, i’m sure somebody has died in this house
- had a good conversation with Dakota last night about letting go - having the space to let go, the space to act instead of sitting around hoping the decision will come
- most importantly, the space and the time to explore systems of workflow, to forge healthy working habits.
- things happen in waves here, each wave lasts 1-2 weeks, and there have been 3 thus far. currently cresting a “productive in a calm, lackadaisical way” wave. i think the next wave is a “reflection” wave.
Many days I don’t even leave the house. I shuttle between my bedroom, my studio, the kitchen, the bathroom. If I left silk in my wake like a spider, in 24 hours I would weave not a web but a messy knot. In the late afternoons the sun shines through my studio windows and I gradually move my computer around the desk in order to avoid the heat, a sundial in reverse. I retreat downstairs only to return once night has fallen.
It’s strange how quickly a new place becomes familiar. “This is where I buy groceries, except for bread, which I get at the bakery.” When I run I inevitably take the same 3.5-mile loop, with the option of a 0.4-mile addition. The sound of the wobbly air duct of the house next door has become my soundtrack, the insects as familiar as neighbors.
In Walden, Henry David Thoreau writes,
I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!
What does it mean to leave the place you live to work somewhere else? Can a move provide a defamiliarizing jolt if we fall into place so readily around it? Perhaps newness is a function of ourselves rather than our surroundings. Perhaps there is a world teeming with surprise around us at every second, provided we only take the chance to look.