Install shots from my latest show, “Out of Square” at David Richard Gallery.
To view my current portfolio of work click here.
So I have a hard time with self promotion. I’m always really uncomfortable with telling my friends and colleagues that I have an opening or that my work got accepted here or there. When I’m at work at the community college it has been typical to not ask for help when I need it. To go way overboard in helping out around the ceramics studio. The kind of traits that one would attribute to someone who is humble and not self serving. Yet, it seems to me, looking inward, I’ve seen just the opposite: a raging, strangling, take all prisoners ego!
See, here’s the thing. My ego is so HUGE that I think everyone should see how great I am that they’ll help me out with arduous tasks I’m working on at the school, no questions asked. I think that people will write about my work without my having to tell them that I’m even showing it. That people will throw down their wallets at the sight of my work. That I don’t have to do anything because my work is so great. That it will just sell itself and I’ll just kick back and let the accolades, money, friendships, and fame wash over me. You see how tricky this ego is?
It wasn’t until this latest show that I realized something paradoxical. That, in order to tame this beast within me, I would have to scream out to the world that I’m making great art. I was working down to the wire and, without a deadline for images, only got photos to the gallery the week before the opening. So, I had to create my own flyer:
Then, I had to go all around Santa Fe and ask various establishments if I could put the flyer up in their establishment. THIS is humbling. For someone whose ego is out of control, having to lower oneself to toot your own horn can destroy you. And, funny enough, it can boost your sense of self worth.
A giant ego and giant amounts of self esteem do not go hand in hand. They don’t even know about each other.
So, now, at the college where I’m employed, there have been these flyers up for about a month now. My show is about to come down. Many of my colleagues have seen my work in person. They’ve seen the price tags. Seen the three red dots (!) Instead of waiting, simmering, wondering why I’m not exalted by my co-workers, I now feel like I’m a respected member of the community. I feel like I can ask for help now with back breaking tasks because I’ve given up that ego trick of having people feel sorry for you so they’ll pay attention. The kind of ego trick where you brag about working 5 doubles in a row or what have you. Maybe you can see this in my work. And maybe, my ego deflated a bit when I decided I needed to get this out of me and expose it to the world.
I recently attended an artist talk with Dave Hickey and Tim Bavington. It was just as I was finishing up most of my works for the current show, “Out of Square.” And I’ll tell you, it made me feel a bit like I was on the wrong path. Primarily, Dave chided the strange ideas and opinions everyday, uninformed people have on your work.
People suggest things to artists all the time. And, it can be extremely annoying! My first thought, in such an encounter, is to call for a straight jacket for these people who know nothing about my inner thought processes, my inner toils, my “evil” cultural heritage that informs my work. But, really, I think, if you just listen to these strange insights that completely differ from the way you’re seeing things, you’ll see that there is another way of looking at the world.
What is this way, you might ask? You can, and this is after many years of experimenting with people’s suggesting something completely ludicrous about what I should make and getting so angry with them, so indignant that I decide, after months or years to do what they say, but not the way they think I should do it, of course, to actually spend a week or two of my valuable time to spite them and make exactly what they’ve been telling me I should make and waiting for them to show up at an opening and see the delight, confusion, and gears turning, “oh. Do I have to buy this now? I wasn’t thinking he’d actually make that. And I certainly wasn’t thinking THAT would be the price tag (gasp!)” Not very healthy! But, through examining these sort of patterns, I have come to this conclusion: the way of looking at things is that everyone is conspiring to help you. And, in turn, to help one another. You can see things differently, as I have for most of my life, but it doesn’t really help to think any other way.Such is the case with “Table.” A fan of my work suggested that I make her a table for her home utilizing two square coiled blocks as the “legs” and her putting a plexi on top to finish it. The idea didn’t sit well with me and I stewed on this for a couple years. Not really even realizing it until I read an Architectural Digest article about Peter Lane creating ceramic tables. If he can do it, so can I. A New York artist is making tables. This is not, then, craft. It’s art. Or, maybe, it’s both.
Back to how this is all helping me; this is one of those pieces that is hard for me to sit with. Actually, it’s not. It works great as an end table! But for me, it feels unsuccessful in a way. The proportions are too good. It serves as art and it serves a purpose. It is successful and strange at the same time. A balance between man made and the natural.
So, now, there comes a suggestion within a suggestion: of course that people are all conspiring to help me and now, in accepting that help, that maybe I really am that good. Not as an artist, necessarily. Good as a human being. This is the next step. And I’m finally beginning to believe it now. Maybe I am that good, but I have to include everyone who pisses me off in that equation as well, for they are bringing this new reality to me.
I remember when the internet first came out. My friend, Kevin, was really into computers. He had a dial up modem. This was in the late 80’s. We would enter telephone numbers via keyboard and dial them up. We’d hear the crush tech connect and then someone would answer the phone. “Hello? Hell-O???” We’d laugh.
He’d chat with hackers who would make his computer shut down. I lost touch with Kevin, and the internet as well, until college. I remember an advisor telling me how excited she was that she figured out how to get a notification every time she got a new email on her computer. “Why would you want that?” I thought.
The first time I saw porn on a computer I was surfing from sundown to sunup. I couldn’t believe you didn’t have to go to the party store anymore! The first time I tripped and saw the green glow on Dan’s hypnotized face in a darkened room, The Matrix was born. Two years before it hit the theaters. And I shut myself in.
I moved in with my cousin, Sean, after college. My old college pals were doing Friendster and writing great things about each other. “I can be real. I can be me! I can meet a woman who will truly love me, for me, and my giant nipples!”
To hide, or be free?
I just got back from a road trip between Santa Fe and Michigan and was able to revisit one of my great childhood frights. A creepy wax museum and haunted house located in Hannibal, Missouri. I was able to re-experience this place that traumatized me as a child and even got a laugh out of seeing my friend, Steve, jump at the thing that scared me so much when I was a kid.
No great epiphany here, folks. No great cure to all my irrational fears. But it sure is cool that time capsules like these exist and can be experienced over and over again. Where memories become real again for a moment, then become memory once more. And where you realize that, sometimes, fright can be comforting.
I had a dream several weeks ago in which I was palling around with Brad Pitt. We were play fighting, laughing, joking. Just having a good time. I told some people at work my dream and they got a bit riled up and we all had a good laugh. A couple days later, while chopping vegetables for dinner, I realized I was having fantastic episode with Brad. He had found me through the web. Had needed a good ceramic instructor while in Santa Fe. Getting over alcoholism and his break up with Angelina. I’d just pop by random acquaintances homes with Brad and they’d wonder if it was him as I didn’t quite give him a proper introduction. You see, this is how my brain works. See Enneagram: Type 4 if you are still confused. Much of my time is spent in my head.
I get this all the time. Do you, if you’re a maker of some sort? A craftsperson? “Oh, that must be so meditative!” I wish it were. When I roll coil after coil of clay, about three, 1/8 inch coils deep, Brad has bought three of my sculptures and wants me and Esther to come to small gathering at his house. In fact, he wants me to personally deliver the work on his private jet that will be arriving at the Santa Fe airport so I better make this quick. I appreciate your fantasies about what it is I do. Really. I can. But here I am, blogging, trying to give you a glimpse of the truth.
Why, just the other day, while creating my latest sculpture, I was simultaneously hired by Homewise as a special consultant to their new work/live project. I gave up art as a matter of fact. My new role, I thought, could help more people. They must have some grant writer! Cheerio. I’ve a plane to catch!