Sunday, January 16, 2011
What most people don’t realize is the tremendous energy and time it takes to be an artist. It’s like working two jobs. Unless your day job is a trust fund, in which case it’s like having one job (making art is still a respectable way to not make a living). Or maybe you do what I did for years and work less than full time but live as a pauper. So when your friends say, “Hey we’re going to see this band tonight. The cover charge is only $3.” And you’re thinking “THREE DOLLARS! That’s 15% of the phone bill I haven’t paid! That’s two espresso drinks! (which equals 4 hours of getting to be somewhere besides my crummy apartment).” I’m realizing now that the artists I knew who magically didn’t have to work are the same ones with bottomless bags of money for going out. Art making is not comfortable for those of us on the bottom edge of middle class, I guess. We end up having to choose between having basic comfort and making art. For most of my life, I chose art and for a lot of it, I didn’t really notice what I was missing. In this drawing is a room I lived in. It was a dining room, really. On one side was my bed (a futon folded in half so it would fit), on the other side was everything you see in this drawing. And down the middle was the path my roommate took to get from her room to the kitchen (her room had a similar path through it for me to get to the bathroom). But I was so happy to have the luxury of not sharing a room that I drew this picture and proudly titled it “a room of one’s own.” And then I tied burlap sacks to my feet and walked 6 miles to school in the snow.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Eventually my interest in combining words and art led to making a book titled “Willa,” a story about a young woman moving to Hollywood. I made it just before dropping out of art school, at a time when I was completely fed up with living in L.A. (not coincidentally, it was shortly after the L.A. riots of 1992). Although there were kernels of autobiography in the story, it really was about inventing this character, a naïve and hapless Willa. Each page was a collage of fabric and found objects and it was all sown together. Some of the pages have parts you have to open, push, or otherwise move to be able to read the text (which makes it hard to photograph). Of all the old work I have so far pulled out and sifted through, this is the piece that most makes me want to rediscover that old path. Take it up again where I left off, wherever that is. More to come.
Since my second year in art school, my thing in art has been that I tell stories by combining text with images that reflect (or twist) the text. In those early days, I would write stories about life, romance, heartache, hope, joy, disappointment, things people grapple with in their college years. The text came from magazines, or things I would hear people say or sometimes I would just make it up. This text comes from an article in Mademoiselle about visible panty line, go figure.