Throughout my life as a student, professor, and artist, I’ve worked on numerous projects, all of which have challenged me in different ways. I’m always looking for new artistic initiatives that will build upon my prior experience, but that will get me to exercise new muscles and take on new risks that will stretch me to new places I didn’t even know existed.
My graduate thesis Digging was the first time I had considered creating an interdisciplinary project, where multiple bodies of work in contrasting media existed under the umbrella of one core concept. Wading was a project where I began to explore a new depth of emotion and atmosphere in my work that I had previously avoided. Falling was by far my most ambitious project at that point: the sheer quantity of drawings, prints, and sculpture that I produced, combined with the deeply personal subject of my long history with depression, demanded an immense emotional and professional investment that I had never experienced before.
My mystery project, which will be announced in a few weeks is a completely different beast than all of these prior projects. I see this new project as a culmination of literally every single experience I have ever had in my entire life. It encompasses the moment I was able to pick up a pencil and draw as a young child, the rush of joy working in my elementary school art class, my anger and frustration as a high school student desperately to find a way to rigorously study visual arts, the euphoria of attending art school, teaching studio art at the elementary, high school, and college level, working as a gallery director, and finally, my ongoing studio practice as a professional artist over the past 16 years.
The tasks involved in this project could not be more diverse and different than what I’ve done in the past: I’ve sifted through archives of photos I shot 15 years ago, revisited wrinkled paper handouts given to me by my professors when I was a student, rummaged into the corners of closets to find tools and art supplies that have been hibernating for years, reconnected with former students, colleagues, and friends, and asking for help and favors from people I’ve never met before-and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Inevitably, everything I take on asks me to draw from my previous experience in some form, but this project is on an entirely new scale that for me is completely unprecedented. In general, I have a monstrous work ethic, and I’ve always been known for attacking my projects and teaching with a feral vigor that can be intimidating for some people. Relatively speaking, the intensity and amount of work I’ve invested into this project makes it appear as if I’ve been slacking off for the past 20 years.
Another major difference is that I’m not alone in this project. I have an amazing partner who I feel so incredibly fortunate to have met, an outstanding team of 6 former students, (see above) and a group of 9 interns. The extraordinary momentum that we’ve built together over the past year and a half has been tremendous. In my rough moments of doubt and worry, my team has picked me up and pushed me forward with their unwavering support and zeal. They have brought a range of expertise, opinions, and perspectives that cannot exist in one person. I’ve never experienced anything like this before, and I feel constantly energized by everyone’s collective passion and dedication to this project.