the weekend when by in a fast grey blur of drizzle and graphite.
a drawing marathon ensued and i just couldn't stop.
the only time i did stop was to go to the art store and buy more pencils and a new big portfolio to contain them in. other than that, it was eat, sleep, draw, eat, sleep, draw all weekend long. and during this race through graphite, wonderful philosophic conversations about art with my sweetheart. and common sense conversations too which, sometimes, are actually the bigger help- the "keep it simple" mentality is a rich and surprising one. i've become a fan. and a big time fan of artist Banks Violette this weekend too. his work reminds me of what i was moving toward when i was in my last year of school and getting ready to graduate. not that my work looked like his... but the impulse was very much the same; the desire, the "voice", the narrative that the audience creates with just a few hints from the maker of all these seemingly disparate images...
the life story.
the autobiographical nature of this whole enterprise.
and i looked at his work and read his interviews and studied, studied, studied and drew pictures. i sat in bed with a big board on my lap, big paper on top, pencil in hand, and sharpener to my right. i worked and explored and the only criteria, the most important criteria, was that i move forward with images that truly captivate me RIGHT THIS SECOND. i choose to abandon all concern of whether or not the images have anything in common or how they would work together and blah blah blah. they have me in common.
sometimes the conceptual framework for a body of work comes at the end. it comes after the work is done and you lay it all out together across the living room floor and all the ideas, all the desires, all the fascinations rise to the surface. that is how i proceeded in school. fearlessly. unrestrained by rules and just ran toward what attracted me. i let myself gravitate toward images that i had a deep, emotional response to. i drew and painted what i cared about- nothing else. and that's why i could spend 10 hours in the studio at a stretch without a break. that level of commitment, being able to sustain that kind of focus, achieving that degree of dedication, only happens when you are truly captivated by the image. and so i have to say, in all honesty, that my struggle the past year has come from the fact that i have been searching searching searching for captivating images and sometimes i've come up short. sometimes i've found a dead end. that's just the nature of this thing. that's the nature of exploration. that's the nature of a maze. and then suddenly, here i am, on a path that lets me wind around again, meander through the tall dark trees and see my life and my past and my needs and my hopes...
and they are not all sweet.
they are not all nice.
about a year ago i got the urge to do sylvia likens' portrait but i just wasn't ready. not even close. and so i wandered off in a different direction and got lost. that's just how it goes sometimes. but there was something about Banks Violette's work and reading the poetry of Aase Berg and all the blogs i read and looking through Vitamin D (an artist's bible if ever there was one) and thinking about myself, who i've become through the trials of the last few years, the massive depression and fears and all the journals i've filled, all the words words words, and the reaching, crying, searing hope that burns through me daily to find something honest. and i thought of elsie and i looked at The Good Daughter portraits hanging on my bedroom wall. i starting thinking about ghosts and rituals and acts of mourning. i starting thinking about honor and courage and saying "THIS IS RELEVANT AND I DON'T NEED ANYONE TO AGREE WITH ME". and i thought of seances and vigils and anniversaries and the need to commemorate something... something, anything, everything. and then it happened... i became, in that instant, ready to do her portrait. large and in graphite. extreme contrast, dark and light, the binary, the right and wrong, the beauty and the horror, the longing and the anger and the surprise at the unbelievable strength and fortitude of such a young girl. the naive and beautiful belief that her suffering could protect someone else.... her sister.... and it did. it did. she took the torture and it spared someone else. and in her photograph she has the sweetest, most innocent, happy smile.... the whole thing shakes me to my core. the whole thing breaks my heart. the whole thing makes me writhe and i wonder... what can i do?
i can do her portrait. i can do as many as it takes. it always has hurt me that we know that names of murderers but we don't know the names of their victims. it is a sick honoring of their "work" that we, as a culture, keep their names and not the names of those who suffered under their hand.
and i think of value. what i value. and i know the paintings i did for JonBenet creeped people out but it was important work. it is important to keep some candles lit. it is important to remember.
sylvia's portrait is almost done. it will be done and done again as often and as many as it takes. a vigil. an honoring. and i am honored to be doing it.
these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.
thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.
my artist website is here.
my artist website is here.