It seems like so much needs to be created in order to uncover art that speaks in our voice. When visiting SMoCA we went on a gallery talk by Claire Carter. While viewing the exhibit At the Crossroads of American Photography: Callahan, Siskind, Sommer, I was grateful to hear that Callahan had over 300,000 negatives as part of his estate when he passed away. Creating art is hard work, it is dedication and it takes many failures to get to the image that sings. Even for someone as brilliant as Harry Callahan. When re-reading a portion of Art and Fear by David Bayless I am again reminded “ the function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars. One of the basic and difficult lessons that every artist must learn is the even the failed pieces are essential.”
After a number of critiques of my most recent work, I have become aware of all the voices in my head the self editors that whisper even before the work leaves its perfection in my mind and fly out there to be born in my imperfect hands. I hear so many voices mumble softly, they will think you are angry or that you are crazy. Who are “they” and who cares . . . I care as I hear the voices of guilt and protection, protection for my mother and judgment that could break her, protection of my father’s absence, and my silence in dealing with my first eight years of life, as if my memories didn’t exist. The hiding of these times trained me to search for the dark reality I needed to face. I am the yin to my family’s yang. I need to be free to express my memories so these secrets are no more, yet this secret is the tie that binds, the invisible string that makes me responsible for keeping up the pretence set in motion decades ago. I will continue to push my missing me images exploring all the things I missed, the secrets unspoken, speak.
I remember the book Are You My Mother? As a child I loved this book and related to this little bird who wondered where his mother was. I wondered what it really meant to have a mother, what was it like to bond with the one gave birth to you, what was it like to be cared for and nurtured by your mother. I was missing something, as foundational as who is my mother? As a child I was always uncertain how to deal with these labels because the roles family members took on were not the names I called them. When it came to men our family they were more invisible than my childhood.
Even here in this moment of writing this the thoughts in my head urge me to balance this with my acceptance of my life and I choose it, to write of all the positive aspects that I have acquired because of the challenges I faced and to tell you my mother did the best she could do. I know this and recognize that she has grown and become the best person she can be.
Meanwhile, our show during Art Detour 21 at Jackson Street Studios was a tremendous amount of work but well worth it. It was great to interact with people coming in and looking at my work, some with questions, others with observations. There was a continuous flow of traffic all weekend that was noticeably busier on Friday night. At the same time I had two pieces chosen by Melanie and Michelle of Tilt Gallery up in their Back Room. It is a lovely little space where people congregate around great appetizers and wine. During conversations I often look up and around me at their room size cabinets of curiosity. I was honored to have Grammie at Ninety and Natalie at Six in this space. That Saturday the kids from Faith North Montessori School’s Story Art Program put out handmade books, matted photographs, and both watercolor and photo blank cards in the Downtown Phoenix Markets. They had a great time sharing their work and talking with customers about the art they created this term.
On a lighter note Christopher reminded to play . . . even though I continue to re-learn to do this. So I will play and push and make a mess of it all breaking down the pretence of perfection and create the falling apart and putting together the pieces of my life just as I needed to do as a child.