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.