I’ve been thinking a good bit over the last few months about self-care, and in particular the need for conscious self-care on the part of artists.
In part these thoughts come from my own understanding of what I need – starting with saying ‘no’ more often – and honouring the fact that I need LOTS of recharge time on my own to be good to and for others and for the community I wish to support and serve. That means fewer opportunities sometimes – which has its own sort of stress. But for me right now, that’s necessary. These thoughts also stem from many conversations (truth to tell, too many) with other artists over the last couple of years about the reality of their lives, and about exhaustion and burnout.
How incredibly focussed and dedicated my colleagues are – and how tired. Juggling jobs (two? three? more???) some of them, to keep head above water in a gig economy. OR, finally landing “THE job” – the one that pays enough to forego the side gigs – just to see time and energy eaten week after week by the needs and demands of the work at hand, because there aren’t enough hands to do the work, or hours in the day … and they are responsible people, who care about their colleagues and the work they do.
And these bright, talented people ask themselves (and have admitted to me): “I wonder if I am still an artist? Can I even call myself that anymore?
That’s a hard thing to hear, especially given that it’s evident how much talent they have and how much they have to offer the world and their community, on all kinds of levels.
SO – why on earth am I talking about this, and interspersing these observations with pictures of autumn leaves, and glancing sunlight, and panorama photos of coastlines and sky?
Because I have the privilege of being able to take some time for myself just now; I have joked that I have “run away” temporarily … but I haven’t really. Not at all.
If anything, I have gone away to be more totally present. I had the opportunity to get away from my home city and all that is familiar, and to spend some time in another part of the country. I jumped at it. I knew I needed the break very badly, and was (and continue to be) incredibly grateful for the good fortune that has allowed me to do this.
To just be for a little while.
To figure a little bit more out – what next, why, what are the limits, how far and hard to push, and in what direction.
What is healthy (for me) … what is healthy for each of us? It can’t be the grind that I see so many people inside, in all walks of life. Is it any wonder so many of us are angry? Sad? Feeling desperate?
Do I have the solutions or answers or tools to help? I have no idea. But I do know that not having the opportunity to just STOP for a little bit, every so often, absolutely precludes the opportunity to consider these questions – and to seek the answers that are right for oneself.
May the world shift in favour of more humane ways of being for all of us.
Tomorrow is another day, and perhaps it will be a good one, for more of us.
This still point in the process always feels a little surreal. So much goes into the making of an exhibition. In this case, 5 years from the original project to now; at least a solid year of research and work in the studio; lots of challenges, changes, and rewards along the way.
Am I nervous? Yes, to be honest. I feel far too close to the work to be able to assess its merits at this point … one tends to dwell on the things that only hindsight reveals. But here we are.
It’s all process anyway – every work and every exhibition speaks to what is next, and new ways of doing.
At any rate, if you are around in the area, please join us tonight. It would be lovely to see you.
It’s officially one week from today that Boundary|Time|Surface opens at the Art Gallery of St. Albert! Not quite sure how the time flew by so fast (well, actually yes, I am – in the studio!) – but regardless – I find there’s always a sense of time speeding up just before a show.
And it’s been busy on a number of fronts: the not-glamourous jobs an artist does to make the stuff all happen the way it should for an exhibition.
Case in point (sorry of the awful sort-of pun):
Packing. Ah yes, making work is one thing – packing it is another entirely! Fortunately, I didn’t have to build crates for the work this time, as we can transport it ourselves – but the work still needs protection. And list -making becomes part of this process too, of course. Making sure that all the bits and bobs of hardware and tools and just-in-case things are sorted and packed and there when we need them for install.
And then there’s the transport part of it too:
Spent a couple of hours playing ‘car tetris’ with the bins and boxes and other stuff … and in a little while, we’ll be getting this all unloaded and dropped off at the Gallery.
There’s more to the upcoming exhibition of Boundary|Time|Surface – another labour of love attached to the work that I will be launching into the world on September 5th.
To accompany the exhibition, we will be launching a limited-edition book!
Boundary|Time|Surface – a record of change gathers essays that examine the work on exhibition and the ideas informing its creation from several distinct perspectives. A critical essay from Melinda Pinfold, PhD opens the book, and offers an insightful reading of the project as a whole, and the dialogue between art & science informing the project. John Waldron’s essay explores the history of geology as a science, and how his understanding of time and place is informed by a lifetime of practice within the discipline. And I spend a few pages in both prose and poetry trying my best convey what the original project – and the several years of work coming out of that original ephemeral installation – have taught me.
Boundary|Time|Surface – a record of change also functions as an artwork; we have selected a range of images from the time lapse stills we shot of the creation and dissolution of the installation at Green Point, and presented them in sequence in the style of a flip-book.
This is a limited-edition of 200, signed and numbered. For the duration of the exhibition, the book will be available exclusively through the Art Gallery of St. Albert.
It’s been a head-down, get-things-done time for several months now. Board work, projects in various stages of development requiring attention, travel, … and soon, an exhibition of work.
I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to return to the Boundary|Time|Surface project over the last several months – digging back into the images and video, thinking through the ideas again, making new work.
The exhibition opens on September 5 2019, at 6:00 pm. – and continues until November 2 2019.
It has been a really interesting process to look at this body of work with the fresh eyes of time and distance, and to consider the ways in which my perceptions of the place and the thoughts it provoked have both changed, and stayed the same. Interesting too, that many of the concerns I had that were brought to bear on the first iteration of work for gallery presentation have only become more urgent – closer to the bone for me.
Every time I look at the photos and video I took in 2014 during my residency in Gros Morne National Park, I learn something more. About myself and what I value as a human being, as much about the nuances in the place itself. It was good and difficult work to go back into the material, push harder with research and art-making both, and consider the implications of bringing this work (in essence) almost all the way across the country for a second showing.
A good friend and fellow artist asked me once “when do you know the work is finished?” For this body of work … I don’t know that I will ever be “finished” – at the least, not with the ideas inherent in the project. But I am, overall, happy with the results of reading and writing and running down rabbit holes of ideas that has been going on for the past year.
SO – this exhibition with feature a good bit of brand-new work, and those pieces from 2016 that ‘made the cut’ will have new conversations and readings in relation to what I’ve been working on/through. This is also the first time this work (in any iteration) had been shown west of Newfoundland … so even “old” work feels new in this context.
I hope those of you reading this in the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada region will join me at the opening (more exciting news on that to follow soon!) … hope to see you there.