I just got the most incredibly moving gift in the mail. This portrait of my dad holding me in his lap when I was a baby just showed up at my studio by surprise. I guess I had done a solid for Logan Hick’s family which I had totally forgotten about, but he didn’t. Way to make someone feel truly appreciated @loganhicksny This gift is all the more meaningful because in the last few years I’ve lost my mom, my dad, and my stepdad all in close succession, and so this beautifully crafted reminder of the tenderness of family hits me right in the heart. Thank you Logan I will treasure this!
Installation view from the “time capsule” room of Swoon:The Canyon 1999-2017 @cincycac
Switchboard element of the Medea. Last night I revisited the audio recordings for this work, and I have to say, whether the piece is good or not, whether it stands the test of time or not, I’m proud of myself for making it. When you plug in the switchboard or pick up the phones and listen to the audio elements of the Medea installation, the stories are dark and ugly and a little terrifying. They’re transmissions straight from the inner workings of a psyche engaged in the battle of finding truth while sorting through the pain and confusion of intergenerational trauma. The first thing I understood while making this piece is that intergenerational trauma survives by imposing silence and shame. And so, breaking that silence through storytelling requires a constant struggle with the taboos programmed into us by the family since birth. For that reason, creating this work felt like an uphill battle in the rain. It was hard to convince myself to return to the material because so much of me still needed to avoid it. I argued with myself constantly saying that no one wanted to hear such heavy stories, and yet, there was a kernel of truth inside the process that was so clear and bright that it wouldn’t let me stop working. In some ways this piece has felt like the truest story I’ve ever told. And it’s certainly one of the most freeing works of art I’ve ever made. Luckily, in the middle of fighting myself in this uphill battle sort of way, I also found some incredibly supportive friends and collaborators who kept me brave and who helped make things technically and creatively possible. Thank you Ido Mizrahy who helping me sift through the story, and @jwest42 for coming in as a collaborator and sound designer. @tchandler for helping me through those initial recordings, @mattssz and @clemsee for understanding and believing in the switchboard elements, not to mention the beautiful folks who read for it. It took a village! The Medea installation is part of Swoon:The Canyon 1999-2017 at @cincycac until Feb 25th
Opens tomorrow in Los Angeles. Love the work these guys have been doing the past few years, and super proud to be a part of it. Lots of events are being organized in conjunction with the show, so if you’re in the area, go check it out. @intoactionus
Installation detail, Family Feeding Pigeons, painted linoleum block print on mylar, suspended in front of walls made from scraps of the Swimming Cities of Serenissima rafts, and other found and painted objects. @cincycac
Making the unconscious conscious. I’ve grown to believe that nothing wastes more of our life’s potential than repressed unconscious material. Nothing misdirects our actions, and confuses our lives like buried pain that we cannot confront. There are many ways that I’m working to shift my life’s energies from unconscious to conscious. Therapy and meditation are two of these. Drawing is another, and by far my oldest form. I’ve found a way in recent years to bring these three processes together and let them push my spiritual and psychological growth in unison. It sometimes happens, as it did with this piece, that a drawing becomes a map to parts of my mind that I did not previously have conscious access to. Fears, memories, life histories of my parents that formed me without ever being spoken - these things have a way of showing up in front of my face fully formed and telling me a story. In these cases, rather than approaching the piece as a storyteller I work more as a seeker, beginning with only a faint instinct of what I’m drawn toward. Symbols will present themselves and I’ve learned not to question them, just to trust what comes up and follow their lead. When I was drawing this piece I let recurring persistent images guide me. I referenced dream material and myths that I was drawn to without having decoded what about them drew me in. I started with an image that my subconscious mind called “tarantula mother” and from there I let my subconscious steer how the piece unfolded. Eventually a story emerged that was so clear it shocked me. I saw that I had drawn the inter generational cycle of abuse as it played out in my own family while also drawing a central figure that was in a state of detached disassociation from the history stored her home and in her body. I drew my fears and in drawing them I became able to look them in the eye and call them by name, to hold them, and to be in tactile relationship with them. Art can be a vessel to carry unconscious truths in the form of symbols until we are ready to see them nakedly. It can also be a tool with which we drag those truths up from the depths so that we might look straight at them and get to know them.
Installation view, Swoon:The Canyon 1999-2017, at @cincycac until February 25th. Pic by @todseelie
Installation view from The Canyon, up at @cincycac until Feb 25th.
I’m wondering what you guys think about this. Compare this image of a collaborative installation created by myself, Polina Soloveichik, and Alison Corrie, (photographed by Tod Seelie), with the next slide of an Amazon Christmas album ad that’s got some some pretty clear design plagiarism going on. As an artist, and between artists, I don’t believe that any material, technique, motif, or arrangement is precious. I’ve long defended any artist that folks might say was “biting my style” as having the freedom to use any medium or style in any way that they see fit. I’ve also been in situations where other artists thought I was biting from them, and, presenting the long history and various uses of that particular style, I again turned to my philosophy that we didn’t invent any of the every day plastic techniques, and we certainly don’t own them. Creativity is freedom, and its raw materials should stay free. This is a belief that I live by. But when I opened up Amazon the other day and saw this image, I instantly recalled all of the artist friends I know who have had things stolen from them by huge multinational corporations seeking only profit, from Starbucks, to Urban Outfitters, to Amazon. My gut feeling when I saw it was that this image represents yet another example in long tradition of multinational corporations using the creativity of individual artists in an entirely exploitative way.