There are many different aspects of my art that I think are worth writing about and that I'd like to write about, but I find that when I have a window of discretionary time the last thing I want to do is sit down and write. So here are a few bits of super-condensed thoughts and news items from this spring.
If you haven't noticed, I'm a bit competitive. One of the main reasons I was interested in ArtFields was to see if I could get in, and, passing that bar, see if my entry would win anything. I got in, but I didn't win. What I did get was a better sense of how the competition works and the space my work occupies in the context of other contemporary art.
I wish I could have spent a bit more time in Lake City while with event was in full swing, but there was just too much going on at home and at work. I did manage to spend a couple of hours in town on a Wednesday (perhaps at the mid-week low point of attendance) and check out a couple of galleries and wander around town. I saw some art that really impressed me (clearly ArtFields ain't the State Fair) and some that seemed so boring and stale that I wondered how in the hell it got juried in. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, of course. The quietness of my personal experience on that Wednesday bummed me out a bit -- the density of people was so low that I didn't really get to talk to anyone about anything substantive. The longest conversation I had was with one of the docent volunteers who seemed also to be looking for someone to talk to.
After feeling like I didn't really exist there, I was happy to see that a quick shot of my piece made it into the final official video (at 3:41). The warm feeling I got seeing a bunch of kids around "Beauty and Grace" reminded me that seeing other people engage with and enjoy what I do is far more important to me than winning anything. I got a number of shouted compliments as Chris Gillam and I were taking the piece apart and loading it onto his trailer. That makes it worth it.
As I wrote back on the 11th, I took a carload of sculptures down to this year's Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference at the University of Florida. It took me about 6.5 hours to get to Gainesville from Columbia. Make no mistake: the Coastal Plain is vast.
I blasted music the whole way down, but drove most of the way back on Sunday silently. I came away from TAG with some mixed feelings, but I realized that driving silently for hours meant that I wanted to be able to think about things. Leaving a conference full of thoughts is, in my book, the mark of a good conference.
The interactions to my work at TAG seemed to me to range from indifference to aesthetic appreciation to deep curiosity. I wish there had been more of the latter. I have a lot to say about the meaning, experience, and process of what I do, and I can speak the languages of both art and archaeology/anthropology. Fewer people than I expected seemed to want to talk about it. The conversations I did have, though, were really nice and I learned a lot from them.
I spent my Saturday evening wandering up and down University Avenue, picking up whatever metal bits and pieces I could fit in my pocket. The campus was between semesters and eerily empty. I'm planning on making something out of the small assemblage I collected and calling it "Left Behind."
I finished a pair of small winged rabbits that I named "Zero" and "One." I wrote a little bit about them here. I steered myself heavily back into the music of Social Distortion as I was making them, and I think it was because those "shortcuts" of binary oppositions that we use so often to understand and describe the world loom so large in Mike Ness' lyrics. Winners and losers, good and evil, lovers and haters, strong and weak, saints and sinners, cowards and heros, angels and devils, beggars and choosers . . . you get the idea. The guy has been singing about the same things since I was in elementary school. It resonates with me since I've lately realized that I'm fixated, still, on the same themes, shapes, questions, and animals that I've been fascinated by since I was a little kid. I want to keep pushing myself to explore through art, but there is nothing wrong with being curious about long-standing questions and themes that remain relevant and slippery. When something bugs you, you get to keep poking at it. On a "Michael" continuum, I'm probably about 95% Ness and 5% Angelo.
Here's a video showing some of the making of "Zero" and "One."
I'll be participating in the upcoming ecoFAB and Re-Current shows at Tapp's, organized by my friend Flavia Lovatelli. ecoFAB is a fashion show on June 2; the clothing from that show will be displayed in the windows of Tapp's along with related art through June and July. I saw part of the fashion show last year (Afterburner was running at the same time, which is how I met Flavia) but this will be my first year as a participant.
I'm bringing "Zero" and "One" (see above) as well as "Naked Flank." I'll post pictures of the show after it happens as well as the window displays. If you're in the Columbia area you should check it out.