Sunday, June 19, 2011

BECon and Artists

Champagne in a lovely highball glass (for breakfast! with toast!), French press coffee with lots of cream in a mug next to it, and the rising and falling conversation of Tadashi and Morganica (Cynthia Morgan) for my music. BECon 2011 is over. My batteries are refilled to the bursting--as is my spleen... (appendix? Liver? Heart? What organ is the creative seat of the body?) I don't know from where the creative juices flow, but they have welled and filled every nook and cranny in my body and I need to get home and let them out. Thank you Steve Royston Brown.

The workshop I took from Brown was incredible. Even though my second and third pieces did not turn out (incorrect firing schedules--not enough heat so the middles of each piece [made of glass powder] stayed powder and crumbled to dust when I de-molded them) I am completely inspired to continue this body of work when I return to my own studio practice (more on studio practice in a minute) next week.

Who am I kidding?!? When I get back to the studio I am going to dive head-first into orders, work for both the wholesale and retail portions of the BMAC show in Baltimore, running a teaching studio, selling glass and tools, managing a hotshop, setting up a second hotshop/casting studio, having glass date nights, scheduling torchwork beadmaking classes, and managing employees... Making art. *snort* Like I have time for *that*! (But I will, and I'll tell you how tomorrow. Promise. I'm going to take a page from Cynthia's book and write tomorrow's post now--as soon as I finish this one--and schedule it to run tomorrow. Heh. Now more about, well, being an artist.)

I have retreated to Morganica's red leather couch with the heather purple knitted throw her mother made over my legs. It's time to really post. The problem with not posting for a month... er, two months(!) is that if I don't post, it means a LOT is happening that is worth posting about, and the task of getting it all documented may be critically important (at least to me), but it is also physically impossible. Life doesn't stand still just so I can catch up. But I am in charge. I am the adult (snicker). I'm going to jump around a bit and not worry about chronology. Linear order be damned--it may be how things happen, but it doesn't have to be how we think about them, remember them, or chronicle them.

Though I just wrote that life doesn't stand still, today, for me, I am making it do just that. I am ruthlessly avoiding any external stimuli. I don't want to talk to anyone. I don't want to meet anyone. I don't want to see anyone else's work or studio or learn about their technique. Today is a day to process everything I took in over the last week and figure out a way to ease it into my own studio practice. See? I now have a studio practice. All the presenters at BECon talked about their practices. For a couple of moments I thought I was at a medical convention, but then I, too, became taken by the imagery of an artistic practice. Hopefully less than doctors (really, hopefully) we actually are all practicing all the time.

I am also not an artist, I'm a "maker" (the other term used by all the presenters)--which is great because I can't quite get my skin around being an "artist"--even after an hour lounging on Morganica's entryway floor last night floor passionately debating what is art and do I do it with her and Tadashi. I woke up this morning with the strong, clear thought that I am an artist. Then I got over it. I don't create just to convey a message or make a statement, and I have a problem with complete lack of utility. Sure, some of my makings are entirely decorative and not at all utilitarian, and I look forward to creating new work that is just as useless but edgy rather than decorative. But whatever I make needs to engage more than the brain through the eyes. I need it to have a touch--a coolness, a softly catching slipperiness, a weight. I need it to change in different lights and contexts.

Like an artist, I want my work to provoke a response upon first sight and to continually engage the viewer/toucher. But unlike many artists I have met, I am thrilled with the the response being a completely unintellectual reaction of "how beautiful!". Someone wanting to hold and touch my work and to pass it through different lights is the reaction I am usually working to provoke. I don't often want my work to be just a touchstone to provoke an emotional response from the viewer based on his/her philosophical/religious/cultural response. I am not looking to change the world with every (heck, maybe not any) piece I create. It is more important to me to comfort and nurture than it is to shock. Don't get me wrong--I might do work to provoke and shock too, but, if that's all I did, it would simultaneously exhaust me and bore me to tears.

There were many artists presenting at and attending BECon. They came from a variety of backgrounds, though painting was a common thread. They had art degrees--many of the presenters had multiple art degrees and academic credentials. (So many, in fact, that I wondered aloud last night if I should pursue an art degree in order to claim a respectable place in the community. Cynthia and Tadashi vetoed the idea.) The artists were as passionate and high-strung as thoroughbred racehorses and I marveled that the worth-of-work issues (reference "art degrees" above) I have (usually after being around artists) in my self-identified place on the craft side of the art-craft chasm are apparently vastly smaller than those of the artists on the other side.

The people who identify themselves as artists still seem to have as much or more difficulty with their work being accepted by artists in the traditional fine arts media as I do having my work accepted by glass artists. Fortunately for me, it doesn't seem to bother me as much. I was reminded a bit of my time in academia where faculty members used to squabble over the the size of their offices, the number of chairs and windows in said offices, and how they all related to the faculty member's importance in the department. All that said, I am glad to have the title of "maker" to adopt.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I'm glad to see that you've posted, and this is a fascinating look into how your mind is working, presently. I'm glad for you, as well, that your business is so busy. May it stay intellectually challenging, and allow you to express yourself for many years to come!