Survival Tactics: A Thesis in the Making

Since the end of May, I have been exceptionally busy in my studio and as is often the case, everything else in my life gets sidelined... I've been pretty lax about my blogging duties and as more time goes by, I have become anxiously aware of its neglect.

My sincerest apologies.

When the second semester of my program came to an end, I felt like a raw, exposed nerve. I was second guessing and over-thinking everything I did to the point that all joy had left my art making. It's the one aspect of academia that really pisses me off. Stop talking about the work and just do it, for christsake. The theory will sort itself out later. I believe this more now than ever.

So, in order to keep from completely losing my mind, I walked away from my practice for a bit. What I needed to do, I decided, was shift my focus for a while so I could be refreshed and ready when the fall semester began. I spent some time in the gym, working out my frustrations. I reread “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff. I produced a couple of murals, did some life-drawing and filled a sketchbook. I got better acquainted with my digital drawing tablet... Essentially, I let go.

Through most of my undergad, I had been developing a practice built on the idea that I would write, illustrate and publish graphic novels. Think “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel or “Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth” by Chris Ware. This idea, unfortunately, had been abandoned after a terrifying encounter with J. O'Barr, creator of “The Crow.”

Therefore, to honor my origins, I set up an off-campus experience with The Amazing David Brame, whom I had the chance to meet during a studio visit earlier in the year. After some illuminating talks with him, I decided to put my comic undies back on and revisit some old projects. I dove back into character design, outlined a short graphic script and laid out some rough sequential pages of a project that might actually be worth pursuing. Next summer.

The point is, for the first time in almost a year, I was again finding joy in creating.

My reward for this downtime came during the final two weeks of August. I was inexplicably struck by the inspiration to explore the idea of emotional distortion and isolation through the rather personal lens of Bipolar disorder and trauma. These are things that I live with and manage daily, through diet and exercise, routine and self awareness and of course, through my studio practice. As with any complex and deeply personal subject matter -- as this is to me, I need to be honest. However, even though I have intimate and expert knowledge of the issues that I am addressing, I must be careful to consider my viewers. I want to expand their perception of what can be a touchy, potentially volatile subject in a way that lends itself to debate. This translates into abstraction and to creating some specific signifiers that come from my personal experiences, but remain vague enough to encourage a reexamination of what the accepted perception may appear to be.

What can I say? Go big or go the fuck home.

With all of this swirling around in my mind, I began producing a flurry of free association drawings. These exercises were designed to help me dive deep into my subconscious and uncover the symbols and tropes that lurk within the bowels of my ID. This has since evolved into the creation and analysis of ink blots. These, in turn, have generated images and ideas that I am currently sifting through  in an attempt to finalize what will eventually become my thesis work.

Rorschach_blot_01.jpg

Clearly, this means planning. This means I will need to strategize. Research both sides and find the common thread. I have a number of medical journals and psychological publications that I am referring to, as well as actual people I'll be/have been interviewing, but at the end of the day, I need only look within to find the answers I need.

Some artists that are informing my research...  

 George Segal "Blue Nude"

George Segal "Blue Nude"

 Sandy Skoglund 

Sandy Skoglund 

 Leonardo Drew

Leonardo Drew

 Salvador Dali "Portrait of My Dead Brother"

Salvador Dali "Portrait of My Dead Brother"