Sunday, July 11, 2021

Being an Artist

 Earlier tonight I was watching 60 Minutes (in summer everything is a rerun), and one of the stories was about Colson Whitehead.  I've never read any of his books, but apparently he is a successful author-received a couple of Pulitzers, sold a lot of his novels, so pretty successful by any standards.  He is married to a literary agent, which is a useful situation I'm sure, and both appear on camera as part of the piece.  She describes learning that his routine in life was to write a novel, get it out, then write another novel, get it out, then write another novel, and get it out, etc.  What about now- time to write another novel.  This author's life sounded very familiar to me.  I write no books, but my art can serve the same purpose.  All my mature work is based on narrative, on things I have seen or experienced. In that sense, we work much in the same way, as his books are often based on historical or contemporary events that he read about or experienced.  Adapted as writing, changed as needed to be more suitable to his literary style, but based on what he has experienced, and that sounds a lot like what I do.  His latest book (the process often takes years to be finished) took from a story about a reform school in Florida where some bad things happened.  

Like I said, much of my work is based on what I have seen. A speech therapist from my job in Hackensack came to my MA show in Montclair, which was mostly about experiences I knew from that job.  Her observation was that my work told stories that people with that experience would know, but probably forgot.  Luckily I never forget anything.  (nothing personal revealed- we have rules about that)  I worked that field for many more years, but found other things to make are about. My Fourth of July piece was very specifically about new experiences every day, my saints and Ecclesiastes pieces are very much my interpretations of books I had read, the supermarket prints are about experiences I have had, my formal portraits (not the figure studies that have been about leaning how to draw bodies) all tell stories- either about the subject, or use the model to tell a story I have experienced.  My prints about local landmarks that have since been eliminated from existence are telling stories about things I remembered that are gone now. I have made work about other jobs I have had, or the country in general.

What comes next remains to be seen here, but once I get started, it will fit the pattern. 


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