“The only journey, is the journey within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
When I was putting together my senior thesis show during my undergrad I felt more lost than ever. Up until that point I had been making work for the sake of expressing myself and developing my technique, and in hindsight, I didn’t have much to say.
Up to that point I had most things in life handed to me. I didn’t know struggle past depression, the loss of family members and cats, and not getting what I wanted when I wanted it.
My entire thesis – a whopping 20 pages of bull-shitting titled, “Because Art School” (a file I can no longer find, but wish I could) – was mostly commentary on duality. Dichotomy. Juxtaposition. Micro vs Macro. The forest versus the trees. The day-to-day versus THE JOURNEY. And yet I had not actually had much of what I would consider a real journey.
My whole identity was in being an artist and yet when I got to the culmination of my art training, I was being told that I was doing it wrong. All of it.
But with just a few months left before graduation, I pressed on.
I made 7 small works, and I do mean small, as each only measured a single inch by a single inch; and one large work coming in at six feet by six feet. The small works all existed in 16″ x 20″ thin, black frames.
(senior thesis exhibition)
They were each a representation of a moment or a story in my life that caused me to pivot or change in some way, like “5K”, a piece about overcoming my struggle with exercise.
The large piece, painted directly on the wall of the gallery, titled “Impermanence”, was a representation of the fleeting nature of the present. Of many fleeting moments, really, and how when strung together day after day, impermanent moments create a lifetime of memories that are more permanent in our minds than in reality.
It was all really inspired but it was also kind of a mess because I wasn’t thinking about it as deeply then as I am now. I couldn’t even articulate what I was trying to say at the time.
In all honesty, most of my work reveals itself to me only in hindsight.
I tend to paint emotionally, and let my intuition guide my hand. Is that cheesy? I’ve been told it’s just not enough (queue internalizing that I am not enough).
I always come to my work with an idea though; something I want to talk about. Whether it be about a hard day, a bout of depression, or the systemic social injustices plaguing our society… my work is emotionally charged. I always hope that that energy can be found in my pieces.
Most of the time I am also referencing my sketchbook – a full cache of ideas just waiting to be brought to life. Looking at my thoughts through the lens of the days trials and tribulations helps me bring new meaning to something that might not have had any when I first sketched it out.
In my years since art school I think I’ve become what the times are calling “Woke.” And I’m still not even sure if that’s an insult or praise, but I’m certain that my purpose for this life is to help usher in a new world order. I’ve never felt like I fit in, and you know what they say…
I guess I just mean that I see through most of the bullshit our establishment is feeding us, and I’m not afraid to bite the hand. In making art and keeping with this path, I’m trying to get off of the hamster wheel. Social norms rub me the wrong way, and I’m here to challenge what you think you know and ruffle some feathers. For the first time in my life I know this to be my Truth.
Might not be your Truth – you might think I’m batshit. And that’s ok.
So where do I go from here?
The exciting thing is that I don’t know!
I have a shitload to say about the status quo, social injustices, politics, religion, spirituality, gender dynamics, personal dynamics, internal dialogue… and I can confirm that that’s what I’ll be focusing on discussing with my work.
The rest is less clear.
I have an idea… about making a lot of work, and sharing that work and developing a business to sell my work via multiple avenues… but ultimately, the path laid out before me is covered in the fog of war and only reveals itself each time I step forward, despite the fear of the unknown welling up in my gut.
I don’t know what’s coming. I’m still trying to focus on mustering the courage to keep fucking going day in and day out – a reminder that the journey is indeed an inward one.
I might go to grad school at some point.
I might teach, or coach, or counsel.
I definitely want to write a book. Maybe two.
I’ll probably try to get to Burning Man some day.
Or maybe I can drop off all together and go live in Auroville.
I don’t know, but a few things are for certain…
What matters to me the most, at this moment, is continuing to create myself and remaining true to that person (and showing that person some compassion through the process).
It matters to me that I help make a difference and drive the kinds of changes I want to see in our world like more compassion for each other, more respect for the Earth and more curiosity about life.
And it matters that I remain diligent in doing so.
There might be more to it later on, but for now… let’s ride.