Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Circular Diaries

Let me start this off by saying it's very rare that I start writing about a body of newer work immediately after completing the whole set- let alone in the beginning stages. That said, The Circular Diaries is one of those projects that has been jumping up and screaming at me since the first completed study- a work on paper titled The Kneeling Man. 
The Kneeling Man, mixed media on paper, 9.5"x13", 2014
The last month or so has been an interesting ride with some life changes attached to it- some of those changes coming as feelings of rejection, being lost, and questioning the direction of movement. Let's call them growing pains- and these are things we all feel at some point in our lives (if we're fortunate). When the chips came down, I did what I always do- my own version of retail therapy, in the form of scouring the streets for things to make art with, or at least some inspiration. Ironically, on a day I needed it most, I came up with nothing. Zilch. For the first time in a long time I simply lost it. I started walking down the street, house to house, and yanking circulars out of the posts of neighbors' fences and tearing them up. As a friend and mentor pointed out, the experience became research. I picked the scraps up off the ground, gathered some more of the coupon-filled paper, and got to work.
The Leaning Man, mixed media on paper, 9.5"x13", 2014
Slouch,  mixed media on paper, 13"x9.5", 2014
Ever since I started working in found objects, I aimed to comb through the mud and the muck to find a jewel-  a diamond in the rough that I could show the world they'd been fools for throwing out. Granted, I still love this idea, and it will continue to work it's way into my works as a medium of choice, but picking up the circulars this way gave me an insight from the opposite side of the spectrum of tossed goods. What about the things no one is sorry about throwing out? The things that are mass-produced that you can't even give away- so common that no one even notices when someone walks up to your home and steals it. In an unexpected twist of fate, this "found object" material became the star of the show, essentially representing the subject at hand, rather than being a stage for an already existing topic to dance on.
Suit in Recline, mixed media on paper, 13"x9.5", 2014

It might sound strange, but at this point I was beginning to relate to the material more than usual. And how could I not relate to an item that there is so much of that seeing it doesn't stir so much as a batted eyelash. It reminds me of the adage I was told coming out of college, which essentially boiled down to "Good luck out there. There aren't any jobs, so start shopping for stripper clothes." This of course was followed by a similar message delivered towards the end of graduate school which sounded a little more like "throw a rock in any direction and you'll hit an artist with dreams of landing a gallery. That same rock will also hit anyone vying for a job teaching college art. Have fun out there." At the end of the day, it's hard not to succumb to the empty and demoralizing feeling (and in most cases the reality) of being another face in an already vast and constantly growing crowd.  

Before you envision me as a depressed artist having a realization of hopelessness, descending down to the end of my pitiful rope, the fun part comes in dealing with the material. The real magic came in discovering how much I can actually do with this material that seems so hopelessly one-note. When molded, painted, and placed correctly, the results can be beautiful, unique, and worth the double take it wouldn't have earned previously. 

Unlike in most of the previous posts, this investigation will continue. Thus far, I've only made one piece that is a wood-based work, but there will be more soon. In the mean time....

Bust Portrait of a Nobody, mixed media on wood, 24"x24", 2014
Bust Portrait with a Hole, mixed media on paper, 14"x13", 2014
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