twenty art statements

This was an assignment for a sculpture class - "write 20 art statements." It was a lot harder than i anticipated and essentially became a list of all the important things I've learned about art at this school, some of which I'm still (and might always be) in the process of learning. 
  1. art assigns objecthood to moment and material weight to sensation
  2. it's important to do art beautifully, not for the sake of beauty itself but as a tool that makes ideas both workable and interesting
  3. constructive discontent is critical to developing an consciousness of creative methodology
  4. all deliberate change first comes from denying the logic that most gives you comfort
  5. art is a completely socially determinable product
  6. art objects take on more meaning than the sum of their parts 
  7. the experience of the maker doesn't dictate or determine the experience of the viewer
  8. the experience of the viewer doesn't dictate or determine the experience of the maker
  9. it's okay for art to be a record of a process instead of a means to an end
  10. intentionality is critical, even if it takes the form of intentional unintentionally
  11. be responsive to the moments in which one thing becomes about something else
  12. art is essentially, in purpose, to recreate moments in time that cannot in any other manner be communicated
  14. treat the unsystematic systematically, and the systematic unsystematically
  15. art is a prior mental or physical event for which the work now serves as a testimony that it occurred
  16. it is sometimes accomplishing emotional affect solely by means of the isolated portrayal of a super-personal emotional state, idea or concept
  17. transgression of structure always results in the construction of new structures
  18. always be critical and aware of what's implicit
  19. art isn't democratic. it isn't for the people
  20. sometimes art is only for the people

*this one in particular applies to graphic design as well, in absolute severity. 

magalie guérin/unenchantment

I realize it's been well over a year since I made a blog post. I don't want to talk about it.

The purpose of this post is to more or less catalog the fact that I no longer approach art-making with a deep terror - mild terror, perhaps, but not deep. It's become a productive fear instead of a paralyzing one, which is a maturation I've been anticipating for a long time.

For reference, see the following excerpt of a never-published post written in October:

It's a strange feeling to look back on an entire year and feel like you've regressed as an artist. I can't help but be disappointed, albeit calmly so, with myself. I still draw ambiguous female faces and shitty typography in my class notes. I still use a black leather Moleskine to pretend I'm functionally planning things weekly, when really I use it to draw cartoon crabs, or alternatively, make myself feel productive and professional. I still lose inordinate amounts of sleep mulling over the "problem" of being either a full-time artist and/or a full-time athlete, whether or not any of it is worth anything, how to explain my art to those non-art-inclined, the to-and-fro between pushing yourself and letting yourself rest, giving yourself time, letting yourself sleep in and stretch out. But it's also possible the identity has simply been redefined. A lot happened in a year - I started calling myself a painter. I bought two pet rats and a queen-sized mattress. In an attempt to create my own space again, I wrote mediocre poems in exchange basil plants that died before they ever seasoned anything (RIP). Got in a car accident, bought a blue bike, did a lot of irritating underpaid freelance work for bad clients.

I can confirm that since October, I've learned to 1) be measures less self-deprecating and 2) never speak about bad clients on a public forum. Currently in my third year of college and this tide-turning occurred this quarter, I believe. We had an artist speaker visit my junior seminar, a Chicago-based Canadian* painter named Magalie Guérin. Her "talk" was personal as all hell, to be honest, and mostly consisted of her reading straight from her studio journal, which was essentially a catalog of her processes, her fears, her triumphs. It was admirable. I took to her immediately, planned on talking to her after the class was over or at least emailing her and letting her know that the three solid pages of notes I frantically put down during her visit were revolutionary for me. I chickened out, classic. But I anticipate there'll be a point at which i contact her or go to one of her shows. We'll see.

The most impressive part of her practice was her dedication to what she called the Hat Shape - a curvaceous vaguely-hat-shaped shape that she committed herself to for years, painting nothing but variations of it. It was quite beautiful, both formally and in theory, a process that she called "working from rather than towards."

She was candid and frank and managed to very sincerely capture the grappling so many artists have with their art - art in general, really. Becoming bored to tears, "I still haven't figured out how write art stuff," being in a long-term relationship with your work, finding a way to stay curious, dealing with "the feeling that none of this matters." <-- which was honestly the biggest question I had for her and is the one thing that hasn't changed since October. How do you deal with that feeling that nothing matters?**

It may be, I suppose, just like anything else - weathering discontent and the bullshit cobwebby politics until your professor says something to you like, "When I looked at your sculpture, it made me feel something. It didn't make me think anything - it made me feel something." Or until your advisor tells you that actually you can have it all because you're young as a bud and there's still time to be an school counselor, a kick-ass designer, a mom and a grad student and an artist that puts out shows and has long-term relationships with her work; being in love with it like you fall in love with a person, learning it's okay to be bored, to be vulnerable, to be unenchanted, focusing on loving instead of needing to be loved. All those things are fine, all those things are good.

"You’re allowed to touch everywhere, to inquire about everything. You have this thing in front of you that gives you permission to go in all these mini rooms, all these cracks and nooks, in the dark corners. That’s what a relationship is – giving a person permission to explore you. The work is that way for me." -Magalie Guérin, Conversation

*I initially tried to coin the word Montrealite, but what the fuck? 
**The answer is by double-majoring -- justifying your commitment to art by being committed in equal or greater quantities to other pursuits, "worthwhile" pursuits, pursuits that "give back."