Every year at this time, we make our lists, the best experiences of the previous year and our hopes for the future year. Add to those lists, the ones that are published that tell us the top ten books, movies, sports moments, songs, fashion trends, dog breeds and cities that are good for retirees and one might imagine that life could be neatly navigated by choosing all of the number ones. We know that that isn’t true because the number ones change every year at this time. Big surprise when you have tossed all of your tight jeans, retired to Evansville, Indiana and waited six months for a pure-bred Labradoodle.
The one subject that I do consider each year, just short of making a list, is the practice of art, mine and the state of what’s going on in the larger field of art. For many years, I thought mostly about my own practice, what I was doing and what I needed to do to continue. Occasionally I would think about the value of art in our lives and try to relate my own work to that perceived value. More recently I have thought about the state of art, about what it means to be an artist in a broader context and have tried to make sense of it. This year I think I’ll just have another martini.
I read the following quote a few days ago and I think that it will allow me to forgo the introspection this year and to just keep going.
In those moments when you feel discouraged or lost in the studio, or when you experience rejection, rest completely assured that what you don’t know about something is also a form of knowledge, though much harder to understand. In many ways, making art is like blindly trying to see the shape of what you don’t yet know. Whenever you catch a little a glimpse of that blind spot, of your ignorance, of your vulnerability, of that unknown, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to stare at it. Instead, try to relish in its profound mystery. Art is about taking the risk of engaging in something somewhat ridiculous and irrational simply because you need to get a closer look at it, you simply need to break it open to see what’s inside.
-Teresita Fernández, Blind Landscape
Ridiculous and irrational. I often feel that way in the studio and I have always known that it was important in some vague way. Now I feel reassured. (It is also how I feel after the second martini, but that’s another issue altogether and it is not very productive.)
I wish you the very best for 2015. I’m sure that you can make your own list of what is best for you.