I have been thinking all morning about the word and concept of inspiration. I am in the last month of my 5-month Windgate Residency. This experience is the greatest gift I have ever received. It has been like the third year of grad school, the year where you are on your own to explore who you really are in your art practice. I have been very productive in many ways. I have worked every single day on a physical piece in some way. I have found however that it is the actually having time to think that has been the most exciting for me. I have time to think in my daily life, but not uninterrupted time. I will be in the middle of starting something in my home shop and someone comes to the door to deliver, drop off, visit, or pick up, when the encounter is done I go back to the task I left and can not find the tool I was holding, forget the thought I had come to, look at my watch and think about the shortness of time until my next appointment, whatever happens the rhythm of my work is gone. Here at Purchase I have been able to live my work. When I wake up I lie in bed and think about the pieces I am making and all the possible direction they can take. I might get up and start writing, drawing, painting or printing while I am eating my breakfast. Sometimes an hour passes and I discover my soggy bowl of cereal untouched on the counter next to my cold cup of coffee. My life at my house is always very regimented; I make lists everyday and move forward at sonic speed with the purpose of knocking of the items, one by one. This includes my creative pieces. When the list is done I allow myself my personal work, but often that is an hour here and an hour there. So the question becomes how will I make time for my personal work when I get home? Money of course is a major issue. Here at Purchase I receive a check once a month that covers all costs. They are paying me to create. At home I can only get paid for time spent on creating something for someone else. Turning around America Projects are very enriching but they require a lot of planning and time that are not always income producing and then I have to turn balusters or demo or teach a class for a paycheck. After all that is done there is little time to sit down and make an artwork that might be meditative and full. I see the importance of these residencies as a way to step out of the everyday and ponder on what really inspires me as an artist. In Grad school I came to realize that the inspiration an artist seeks is often very close by. My first semester I was frantically searching for the piece that I would make that would totally wow them. They were not wowed. I made a toolbox for an archeology class and it was suggested to me that instead of making an historical toolbox I make what I think a toolbox should be. I started designing traditional toolbox, and yet all around me at home is intense research of trailers and mobile space. If you saw my bookcase it is filled with books on off the grid living and sustainable practice. In my driveway sits a tear drop trailer that I built and seldom use. I live in the front room of my apartment in a room that is six and half wide and 16 feet long. In it I built a loft with a couch and storage underneath. The stairs to the loft are the drawers to my cloths, there built in bookcases on the wall, a fold out desk at the end of the room. At the end of my driveway is a small studio that is 12’ by 12’ by 15’; it contains a sleeping loft, bookcases, lighting and fans that have in the past been run on solar panels and batteries. All these things were around me all the time, but when I sat down to design my toolbox I did not look up from my task to see that my true passion was all around me. The things I do in my spare time, my precious free time are my passion and inspiration. When I had the time in grad school to think, I looked up and said to myself, ”WOW, why do I compartmentalize my life?” I immediately built a toolbox that was an indoor trailer. It contained the tools I needed for grad school. A bench to work on, blank white walls to draw on, and an interior space that had a couch and a book case to rest and read. It was the beginning of the best work I feel I had ever done to the moment in my life. It was the first work that was actually about me and who I am in the world. I often demo about the creative process. I tell this story and how I came to find,” Me”, by allowing all parts of my life to integrate with my personal artwork… Well time past since that realization, I drove around the country, got back into a schedule, and guess what, I forgot it all again. I arrived at this residency with a big list to knock off, piece by piece. I started, and it felt like a job. I threw away the list, allowing myself to make what I felt like each moment. When it started to become work I put it down and started something else. Some how following this path has led to what I originally thought in a whole new way. I have made things in wood, metal and paper. I have experimented with my daily habits and not stuck to any schedule. Sometimes I am up till three in my apartment drawing, and I get up at 10 the next morning. Often I write or document dreams I have had. I have made little things that feel big to me, and big things that seem less important. It has all felt like pure joy. I have worked more hours than I would at my job, but do not feel exhausted or spent.
Harvey Fein came to visit yesterday and we sat down and really started hashing out some of the finer points of the Sanctuary project, which begins in 3 weeks. Last night I was thinking that I have gone from a totally regimented planned life to a flowing existence. What I will carry with me from this experience is a new habit. The habit is to wake up every morning and ask myself what will really make me happy today, and how can I always stay true to myself.