The title betrays itself: I’m in the final stretch of my program, paddling wildly upstream yet miraculously gaining ground despite the resistance built into this time of the year. I’ve already given my thesis proposal (different from defense); the tone and tenor of my practice is starting to settle into a mission statement instead of a crazy quilt. I’ve even started making thesis work: Depersonalization as Escape Behavior is the first in a series that reflects on the internalization of mental health made external, titled The Psychodynamic Sequence. And it’s only coming quicker after that: a performance in March at our annual Open Studio Night, with Commencement following in May.

To reflect all this chaos (and, to my gratitude, solidification), the portfolio’s undergone a big update. Not only has my latest project been uploaded, but so has – for the first time in two years! – my artist statement and contact information, as well as a lovely new portrait in my biography. (Thank you, Rik Sferra.) New to the website is my growing arts writing portfolio, which I’ve been chipping away on over the past two years and will be growing in the next months. So many lovely things to share with you all; I hope you find them enjoyable, especially as I start preparing myself to step out of this cocoon and into a wider artistic world.

A few outstanding items.

More than a few things have happened since last I wrote here. One: I survived Germany. Two: one show has happened, and another is coming. Three: I’ve made some new things. These items are listed in an inverse level of importance, so let’s go from there.

So: hooray! I made things! I’ve also updated my portfolio to reflect this, so check out this link here! Holy exclamation points, Batman! In seriousness: it is rather nice to be able to update with a few items that are fusing my writing with my visual practice, so you know. Nice.

As for shows: The Meeting Waters, my department’s fall show, was pretty exquisite and a good time. Here’s a lovely write-up about it on the MCAD MFA website, in case you’re keen. For those of you in Indianapolis: 5 of my paintings from the Microaggression series are being shown at Electric Light: Fluorescent and Neon in Contemporary Art Practice at the Garfield Park Arts Center. It’s been a lovely experience working with the folks at GPAC to get my work there, and I hope to hear great things from the show even though I can’t come down! The opening will be this Saturday, November 7 from 2:00-4:00 p.m., and although it seems like there isn’t a Facebook event on the item, this page tells you where to go.

Lastly: Germany! Frankly, this write up (again, on the MCAD MFA website) says more, so why repeat myself? Besides, they made everything look so sleek and nice.

We’re at that time of year where I’ll be updating the store and the like very soon, so more as news develops. But until then – well, keep warm. November cometh.

New work!

Why dress up what’s being presented: I’ve uploaded new work in the portfolio, which shows the breadth of discovery I’ve been undergoing this year. I’ll probably have a more thoughtful post on this later, but for now, you can see that I’m going beyond painting and into all sorts of weird twists and turns – sound work, performance, and explorations into alternative narrative. It also explains the little radio that keeps on popping up across platforms; Public Service Confessional is the newest of my works and, perhaps, the most exciting to me even a month after its presentation. I’ll write on it more in-depth later, but the blurb I have on its project page speaks well for itself at present.

Non-sequitur: the Big Cartel shop has been burning up with orders! Thank you to everyone who’s made a purchase to my humble little corner of the Internet thus far, and please feel free to pass along thoughts, delights, pleasures, etc. to your friends, my e-mail box, or wherever you may seem fit. It’s been such a wonderful experience to see what’s beloved and what isn’t thus far, and I hope that everyone’s purchases live up to their wildest dreams and delights. There’s something about selling work that puts a little spring in your step, so thank you very much for putting it there.

Less business and more pleasure next post – I’m thinking that I need to talk talismans again.

State of the Studio

It’s spring. I haven’t written in ages. I’m refusing to make a joke about it, especially as it pertains to the long Minnesotan winter, because I’ll be real: my second semester of grad school was crazy as all get out.

Some cool things that happened after my last missive:

  • I passed Mid-Program Review! Now I can move on to my second year of study. Wowza.
  • I was made a 2015 WorkART Kunstverein Fellow by the University of Minnesota’s Center for German and European Studies. This is a fancy way of saying that I’m going to go over to Schwerin, a lovely city in Germany, to learn how the staff there run the local kunstverein (essentially, a non-profit gallery). I’m really honored, excited, and slightly nervous for my journey, which will start in late May and will end in early July.
  • I’ve also netted some time to come visit New York shortly before I leave for Europe, which is p. rad all things considered.
  • In a not-so-grudging acknowledgement that all of the above cost money, I’ve opened up a Big Cartel shop to sell wares. I’m going small right now to see what sells and what doesn’t, but if it does well, I’ll start investing in a larger inventory. Tell your friends! Tell your empty living room that’s sad and grey! Tell your pocket book!
  • I’ve documented everything I’ve done this year, so next update is “wow, I made art for a year, now check my portfolio.” You heard it here first. But up above is a sneak peek, so not bad, eh?

Talismans: Part I

Let’s get to the point: no one wants to read about when you’re having a rough time in the studio. Sure, you want to write about it, but no one wants to hear you speak about it in a public forum. Besides, I already did that a few weeks back and to hop back on the “ha ha, still having a tough go at it!” train so soon seems a bit tired. Rest assured: when I actually make something that I feel is worth sharing with the audience, I will post it up here. Maybe then I’ll be able to coach any people in similar circumstances how I got through it. After all, I’d definitely appreciate the help right around now beyond that of “go into your studio and make, even though it’s turds.” Sometimes, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

Still, I’m not totally plugged up. I’m not saying that what I’m making is amazing, but there are things pulling through, and I have a few things to thank for that. This entry is a tribute to the few, the proud, the talismans that have helped me grit my teeth and pull me by my torso through whatever this wide vast desert of emotional detritus is. Finding these talismans would be, I imagine, my first tip for that hypothetical guide-to-be:

  • Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, Patricia Lockwood – what an exquisite little chapbook full of the most plush and verdant poems, weird poems, looping words that terrify and electrocute and fizz under your tongue, bright pops of lightning in your eyes and gilded moonshine in your paper-thin veins, the glory the glory the glory. She is, as predicted, probably going to be cited most for ‘Rape Joke’ in this chapbook (and it is brutal and wonderful and grotesquely funny), but ‘The Mother and Father of American Tit-Pics’ is so effusively gorgeous, so glib, so tart and bright that it would be a goddamn shame for it to not be so beloved. That goes for approximately any portion of this fine book.
  • A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter –  I love so many podcasts, it is perhaps perverse. I probably need to go on a podcast diet. But if I did submit to a pod-fast, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment would invariably stay on the “must have” list. Alexie and Walter are two of my favorite writers out there right now, least of which due to the exquisite half-finished short stories that they share with each other on this slowly growing endeavor between two friends workshopping with the world. It’s a writing podcast, but really it’s a creativity podcast, because it’s about communication and sharing and vulnerability and slowly, ruthlessly, desperately, breathlessly attempting to accomplish the smallest things every day so that their practices might grow. (Sound familiar?)
  • Descent Into Heaven and Made at MCAD – cheating, perhaps, to include two MCAD events but when it’s the first solo show for one of your favorite colleagues and a great juried show for many others, seeing the accomplishments of your peers can cheer you into doing excellent things. Descent Into Heaven is a series of video and sculptural installations by Essma Imady, a sharp and wise woman whose filmmaking negotiates her experience as a Syrian-American refugee presently living in the States. Made at MCAD is our annual juried show, and more than a few pieces by our MFA department are punctuating the main gallery. Both are up through March, if you’re in the Minneapolis area. (Sadly, if you’re reading this and didn’t attend the opening: you missed Essma’s coffee. Truly, I pity you.)

Unless I decide to pull you down a typical pre-critique week with yours truly (the last of my first year in the program, if you don’t include my impending mid-program review), this may be the m.o. for the next few weeks until I get my sea legs: small, important fragments that push me through. It’s different from citing my influences, I think – this is less muse material, as it were, and more fuel for the fire. And trust me: the fire needs to be huge.

This Must Be the Place.

(All due credit, first of all, to my colleague Eric Yevak for making the promotional banner above. His portfolio is here. Go look.)

As I said before, this post is all business. Namely: I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to show at a lovely one-night art extravaganza called THIS MUST BE THE PLACE. A hefty number of fellow MCAD MFA students are in the line-up, all gathered under the open banner of “works on surfaces.” So paintings? Yep. Drawings? We’ll have ’em. Prints? Yeah buddy. I’m loathe to say that it’s a drawing, painting, and printmaking show, however – for one thing, that involves speaking on behalf of others that might not feel good about that label. But for another thing, I’m more excited about the variety of items that are going to be in the space than what they’re on, the depth and breadth of talent that we’ll be able to show everyone for this one night.

Basically, it’s art salad. Scratch that; it’s an awful metaphorical turn of phrase. But you get the idea.

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is on Saturday, March 7 and is from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. A pretty rad dude called M A K E B E L I E F is performing at 8:00 p.m. I always have a not-so-irrational fear that no one is going to show up, but then I shoot myself in the foot by never telling anyone what I’m doing. So consider this your invitation: come. There will be food. There will also be kind, talented people and jams. What more could you ask for, hm?

(For those looking for photographs of my work: ha ha ha, saving that for next week, which will probably be pictures of me gesturing to my paintings at the show and going “???????” in the general area of my face.)

On fallow time.

Being busy and not writing in this blog are not mutually inclusive. That is to say: although my life’s been a whirlwind, I’ve still scheduled time to write here – and yet, nothing has come to pass. What I usually do when this happens academically is that I allow myself to freewrite, to meander through things I actually want to say in the most blunt way possible and either get the stink out or take that fruit and make something a little sweeter from it. So today’s missive shall be that.

There are important things I need to tell you, of course. I have a show coming up. You’ll hear about it more, invariably as I attempt to pull something from myself and show it amongst my very accomplished peers. But that will come later. My writing is a-shambles now, and I’m going to work on it.

Continue reading On fallow time.