At the end of the semester at RISD, I always end my classes with a slideshow of my work. This slideshow is only for my students: I would never give this lecture as a visiting artist. It’s a unique slideshow in that I show and talk about work starting with my Freshman year at RISD moving all the way to work that I complete just a few weeks ago, making for sixteen years of work. Students have asked me in the past to place this slideshow online, but I won’t do it because a lot of it is just too embarrassing to be in the public domain. I think this slideshow is important as evidence of the multiple transformations and changes that a single artist goes through over a long period of time. It’s a demonstration of how one period in your life transitions from one place to the next, and which demonstrates how to get from being a student into the professional world. Even though it’s a talk that I’ve done many times in the past, it’s always a difficult talk for me to give because of how much I divulge about myself as an artist in the process.
Although my “Falling” project is still in the very beginning stages, it’s a project that I included in this slideshow for the first time. I hadn’t had the opportunity to really talk about this project in a public setting before and I could tell as I started to talk about the project how uncomfortable it was for me to be discussing the topic. I know that I need to find a way to talk about this subject without letting it affect me emotionally.
One question asked by one of my students about the work was particularly interesting: the student asked why I didn’t use myself (instead of my collaboration with actress Marianna Bassham) to act out the state of agitation portrayed in my drawings. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that if I were to make myself go through it, that the experience would be too close to me. Thinking this through, I’ve realized that since I’ve been diagnosed and treated for depression, that the depression is starting to feel like a distant memory. It’s as if the depression was a person I knew from a long time ago, and who no longer exists for me anymore. I think this is the reason I can make work about this, because the experience seems to be pushing further back all the time.