Wednesday, March 31, 2010

About Myself

I have been asked by several people at various times how I got into doing more subverted art, so I will try to take you on that journey here.

Art for me has always been primarily a means of catharsis, of letting go of things that bother me. (Even more so in my journal poetry - I don't seek to publish or promote those, but that's where I voice those things that aggravate me too much or that I take too personally to even make art about.) At Webster University, this took the form of two large scale installations in the art hallway and art office porch dealing with my feelings that, as a university student, I was just another number in a turnstyle and wouldn't be remembered later. (This sentiment has also informed several institutional critique pieces about the constantly changing nature of gallery exhibitions that I have yet to find a gallery to take on.)

I suppose a big change happened for me when I created Reflections because I had to learn to detach and not take things so personally. Having to follow through on creating that piece, which I had thought was a can of worms Art Saint Louis wouldn't want to open, was a trial by fire of sorts because I needed to be able to converse with people who were insulted by what I was doing and not get defensive, as I have always been prone to doing. (Surprisingly, I didn't find myself in the position of having to defend my work, though I've since come to realize that many people who feel insulted by something don't take that up with the person they feel insulted them but rather talk about it to everyone else they see instead.) After Reflections, I began further exploring institutional critique (at least until this blog provided another outlet). I have also been more willing to speak my mind publicly in my art and to take more risks, but I often find it hard to make/exhibit more personal work so it's not entirely good.

Sometime (I don't recall exactly when or if there was a definite start), I started submitting proposals for projects that I thought would never be accepted by those whom they were submitted to as a means of testing whether or not places would follow through on what they supposedly endorse. It's a self-indulgent practice, I know. But it has acted as the most efficient means for me to test the waters and to get a sense for an organization without calling them out on anything or being more outwardly manipulative. It comes down more to a personal issue of integrity, and I realize that the responses I get really aren't indicative of anything, I just like to rock the boat is all. This is how my menstrual pieces came about, as a means of testing Venus Envy, and the response to those works when they were finally included (I submitted for 3 years with those pieces before I finally got in) is what fueled the Life Blood Exhibit now finally coming to fruition.

In regards to the street art, I am primarily concerned with accessibility and want to connect with a greater public outside of just the art scene. Essentially it boils down to the fact that a lot of the general population doesn't willingly expose itself to art, so I take my art to them. Though I make art as a means of catharsis in order to purge things that I feel weigh me down, I show my art because I need for others to share in that - to convey a sense of any wrongs and misgivings I perceive in the world and to draw attention to double standards, stereotypes and inequalities I have personally felt so I can find comfort in knowing that others have felt them too and that I've started people talking about things they otherwise wouldn't discuss openly. To me, showing what I do is an important part of the catharsis itself because just making it and not showing it feels like I'm still keeping all of my frustrations bottled up inside.

It's not necessarily the prettiest approach, I know, but I do try to make light of all of it and poke fun at myself and my process by incorporating my offbeat sense of humor. We can't all be serious all the time - it's important to be able to laugh at ourselves and our circumstances, especially when we're feeling out of control because it puts everything in a new perspective. And I do make some art just for the joy of creating something beautiful - it's not all brooding or deeply conceptual. My jewelry and plein air works have developed mostly out of that need for all that they can be conceptual sometimes.

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