“The need for creative courage is in direct proportion to the degree of change…Every creative encounter is a new event; every time requires another assertion of courage.”
Rollo May “The Courage to Create”
“What are you afraid of?”
While enrolled in a painting class during my undergraduate studies, there was another student who asked me this question. I truly don’t even remember who the instructor was…but sometimes our lessons come from unexpected sources.
I was initially put off by his question. Struck really, and dumbfounded by his nerve and by the fact that there still is so much power and truth in his question. He was the smug artist who had lots of patrons because he had hit on a subject and theme that was selling. As a practiced draftsman, he would render in paint, graphic depictions of physically ambiguous nudes. At the time I thought it pornographic but have matured to view it as a less than “fleshed out” narrative about who he was as an artist at that time. He chose to shout his truth.
As I pushed forward in my work, I have referenced this question often in twenty years. I also know, after discovering my patterns - sifting through the many sources of knowledge that contribute to the whole of my time as an artist - that I can, or rather must speak the truth of my story through less literally than my questioner. Truth is always relative, and time casts its shadow. Clarity fades; layers, patina, blur are my methods for describing my reality. I choose to be transparent with veils of
subtlety that slowly reveal focus. As Rebecca Solnit says “…details and imperfect memories from which stories are spun.”
These of two examples, extremes really, of how artists approach a subject. But we can learn much from others as well. I have continued to ask myself questions, and facing fear has motivated my work.
Martin Sexton (reading attached to email) sings of boldly taking risks, without much consideration and letting his mistakes inform his life and practice. Fear and Failure are good teachers.
What and who have you listened to? Who has influenced you by speaking to a deep unacknowledged “something?”
What risks have you taken? What questions have you asked?
In this lesson, I would like you to consider the above by examining deeply what you might be afraid of spilling into your work. That “something” that could be holding you back. Consider who you are, how you got to this moment. This will take lots of reflection and some time. Then consider the means by which you would like to reveal your truth.
The purpose of this exercise is to help you will be narrow-in on what could be considered your artist statement at this point in time. It will also provide other valuable insights for your process and practice.
I want you to write about it, fearlessly, as if no one will ever see these words. Write continuously and automatically whatever comes into your head. If you need to, stitch for a while with this question in mind. It may help you with the answer. Remember the answers will evolve, so you can always edit them.
Start by choosing five words from your original word map to focus on. (The words you collected in Session 1) Has their hierarchy/relevance changed at all in the last five weeks? Make note of that if it happens. Just tune into five that speak most accurately at this moment. Use them to...
Answer the following questions.
What am I interested in? What inspires me?
What am I exploring in my work?
How and what are your work communicating?
What could you change to improve its universal connection to the viewer?
Into which category would your work fit? Political Resistance, Story Making, Healing, Other?
What story does my work tell?
Is my work challenging my inner status quo? Is it pushing me to face my fears?
What do I hope my work evokes as a universal truth?
Does the narrative you have created represent you accurately at this time?
copyright Roxanne Lasky 2019 - Please do not reproduce.