I fell in love with the Forrest Bess show at The Hammer Museum recently and so I wrote about it for the progressive Italian art magazine Droste. I was at the Hammer for their annual gala and while most of the guests were staring at Jody Foster (at the adjacent table to me), Will Ferrell, Rita Wilson and Maria Bello, I was obsessing over the exhibition of Bess’ work that I had just seen during the cocktail portion of the event. Weird little paintings reflecting a rich inner world untainted by socializing in modern society in the ’60s and ’70s – paintings born from a self-inflicted hermitude and consistent interaction with the soul and the images that take place behind the eyelids that are completely clear to those who strive to seek them out. Images born in the purity of silence where the ego gets accustomed to turning off because it doesn’t think anyone is looking or listening. It brought up connections to other sisters and brothers who have eschewed polite modernity for the internal caverns of their artistry like JD Salinger, stunted from the horrors of war and his beliefs that adults were all unbearably tainted, or Richard Tuttle in the desert with his nail, hammer, wood and string. In my fortieth year, this way of life has become highly appealing to me: being alone with my paper and pencil, my keyboard and prose, my scroll saw and wood block, and a handful of friends and family I can count on two hands. Creating my own world and seeing things like the corner potato tree rather than integrating with the current world and being seen has slowly over the course of this past year taken over me. My love for humanity is still there yet my lust for material and creation has usurped my faith that I can ever, or even want to, change people – instead I articulate my hope through my work. which is the only thing that has ever continuously sustained me.
Archive for contemporary artists
In the very early 2000s while I was struggling with my own identity as an artist I met a man who deeply touched my soul. My struggles were based on the fact that most of my work up until that point had been directly autobiographical – a process that was largely cathartic but that had propelled me to a new place of healing where I no longer needed to so deeply examine my individual experience. In this healing space, I became largely haunted by the disconnection of human beings from each other in the world, separated by divergent politics and ideologies with no readily accessible platform for conscious dialogue and debate with each other under the auspices of leadership, administration and the media. I was longing for emotional connection with my peers in other countries, convinced that the majority of them felt the same.
I met Ayad Alkadhi through a gallery we both showed our work at and learned he was originally from Iraq. His paintings at the time were large textural articulations with Arabic markings revealing an ancient poetic past that the artist still longed for beneath his home country’s explosive contemporary identity. We bonded over our common hunger for expression and I spent a few enjoyable afternoons in his small apartment that doubled as a studio while we discussed our global dynamics over bran muffins and tea.
Over the course of the next decade, I watched with glee as his career exploded and took him back to New York City where he remains today, perpetually evolving his creative process. He continues to create amazingly poignant work in a world where the constant flux of political, economic and social change continues to inspire his profoundly personal yet universal paintings.
Thoughts on the relationship between art and science…
This was a question asked of artist Bill McDowell about his Ashes in the Night Sky works that were beautifully articulated galaxies of stars made entirely of ashes. In a write up on the work in the Morning News, the reporter stated that the medium of ashes created a tangible connection to notions of death and what lies beyond our atmosphere. His answer was that art and science both embrace doubt and uncertainty.
I asked my friends to give me their own interpretations of the relationship between art and science and received the following responses:
You cannot live without either.
Life is richer when both co-exist.
Intelligence, insight, universal understanding.
Love lies between fact and faith.
After love and faith comes poetry.
And one friend recalled her father telling her about creation by explaining, “We are all made of stardust.”
The intersection of art and science has been winding its way into my own work, stemming from that very precious sentiment that we are all connected by cosmic substance and in fact, masters of our own creation. Choosing what to create is elemental to our individual journeys.
When the Fool encounters the Magician on the road, the Magician unfurls the Fool’s sack upon a table and the Fool is amazed to see all the contents of that which he has been carrying: swords and items of conflict, pentacles and tokens of hard work, passion and the pink hot hearts of love, and other mementos of other directions. He is told that he has the power to choose any of these items as a badge of identity, of which to hold proud and to let inform his own road. And he realizes that he has had these items all along, but that now he is ready to stand by his choices, with new found strength and unbridled wisdom.
At this juncture, I choose love.