Monday, May 7, 2012

"How To Kill Your Imaginary Friends", and recent happenings

Hi everyone!

So it has been a while since i posted anything in here, but a lot has happened. I just got finished with a QCMFA group show at One Art Space (www.oneartspace,com) curated by Michelle Levy of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, had my solo thesis show to cap off my time as an MFA, and gave an artist talk/lecture at Hunter College as part of their Focus and Motivation lecture series. As I prepare for things on the horizon I felt it was time to put the conceptual aspects of my most recent body of work, How To Kill Your Imaginary Friends, into a written format.

Let me start by saying that I understand killing one's imaginary friends might come off as confusing, counter intuitive, and over all macabre. That in mind, theses "friends" are not the childhood inventions most of us have used to prop us up when we feel lonely. Rather, they are notions, fears, worries, and judgements arrived at seemingly from the ether of society we live in. They are the personification of those things we think about that cause us to be apprehensive, irrational, or even inert when decisions have to be made and goals are set. Both in the experience of art making, and really anything else that requires making choices, honesty becomes an important factor.

Now, by honesty I don't necessarily mean telling your mom that you hate the sweater she got you for your birthday or sheepishly raising your hand when people in the elevator want to know whose responsible for the horrible smell. What I'm getting at is being able to make decisions that are true to one's self, not marred by what we project other people want, what their expectations are, or what makes us "good". The simplest example that comes to mind is about subject or material in making art. It isn't uncommon to ask a painter why they work on stretched canvas and get an answer like "because that's what people buy, right?" Though to most people that might not sound unreasonable, the real question is if it serves the work.

On the heels of that, this body of work has been about trying to make decisions based only upon what I felt would make good work. Easier said that done for a young artist like myself who has only recently had this epiphany. The voices would just keep seeming to find a way to creep in there, and ruin everything (side note, it should be explained that many of these things do come from a place unaccompanied by ill intent). With these obstacles failing to wane, I decided that I would kill off these voices the best way I knew how- literally. So with that, I used paintings and sculpture to turn my insecurities into physical beings that I would subsequently torture, maim, or kill. I would treat them like insects, stomping them out leaving foot prints in the ground. I would quarter them, crack their heads open, and as a warning to the others that were to come I would put their heads on pikes, boards, and hang them from fish hooks to keep them as trophies.

At the end of it all, I found some relief. I felt as though it was working, and that through my desire to get to making good, honest work by getting rid of the internal obstacles preventing me I was in fact making good work. When it came time for the work to be installed and shown, I had one last revelation about this body of artworks. A complete stranger came into the space, stopping in front of a triptych title Waiting for the New Guy (picture below). They turned to me and asked "so did you get them all?" At that point I realized that the void on the pike in the center panel was a symbol- I would never get them all. This was not simply a short term project to keep me busy, or an answer to a finite issue. This was something I, and really all of us, will always have to deal with- constantly working to voice ourselves, make choices, and be who we are unencumbered by the weight of judgement, fear of rejection, or all out failure.

Waiting for the New Guy, (3) 27”x32”, 2012

Until next time.


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