Sunday, April 26, 2015

Recovering productivity junkie

After a long hiatus from making studio work, I've been able to manage at least about 10 hours a week over the last few months - throw a full time job and a child into the mix and that requires a lot of organization and determination. For the last ten days, extra appointments and spring cleaning kept me from working in the studio.  The detachment from the so-called zone was palpable yesterday, when I finally claimed a day to reacquaint myself with the many works in progress I have spread across the dining room table. I lamented (yet again) the loss of the glorious studio spaces I enjoyed in my last 3 homes.

I was reminded of an article by sculptor Carol Bove's self-help guide for artists on Artspace.

Bove encourages artists to have a space designated for artistic discovery,
'a non-purposive, free space in which to play and have fun...'. 

Having always balanced another job and then motherhood with the need to make art, I have often imposed a pressure on myself for product when I find time to work in the studio.  

This brings me to another key point in Bove's guide. She meditates on the fact that we refer to art - and the making of it - as 'work'. Here is an excerpt:

I started to adjust my thinking about productivity so that it was no longer valued in and of itself. It strikes me as vulgar always to have to apply a cost/benefit analysis to days lived; it’s like understanding an exchange of gifts only as barter. The work exercise made me feel as if I was awakening from one of the spells of capitalism. And there was more to it than that: I was able to begin the process of withdrawal from my culture’s ideology around the instrumentality of time, i.e. that you can use time. I think the ability to withdraw from consensus reality is one of the most important skills for an artist to learn because it helps her to recognize invisible forces.

So, at the dining table, not in a spacious studio, I just got to doing something, anything, to take all pressure off of finishing a piece of art. While exploring new methods and materials feels 'low-risk' when I've been away from the project for a while, I'm coming to accept that it's actually a requirement that enables me to slow down and allow for days in the 'studio' (or wherever my creative space happens to be), that are free of pressure.

The images I included in this post are of some experiments I did for framing some works in progress. Aluminum plumbers tape + adhesive plastic window lace + oil paint = a texture somewhere between old tooled leather and an old tin roof tile with a patina.

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