The answer to every question you never ask is “no”. You have to roll the dice. You have to put yourself in the game. Last night I finished a cross-disciplinary residency application in science, art, & technology here in New York City because it was time to fulfill a dream, to ask the question, “what more could I do?”
As a recovering Catholic, I rarely spend time in the Medieval section of the Met. But the Heavenly Bodies exhibit, complete with haunting music, is stunning. I had a hard time leaving because I was so captivated by it. I plan to go back several more times to see it and will head up to the Cloisters, too. It’s open until October and I highly recommend it. Beautiful curation.
For a few weeks, I’ve been turning over ideas in my mind for a new live show I’m creating and co-producing. I did a lot of research just to feel like I was moving forward even though I was spinning. Not a single original idea was coming to mind.
So I finally did the hard work that I do any time I feel stuck in my writing. I wrote. I wrote down a load of really horrible, boring ideas. And I knew they were horrible and boring but I just kept going anyway. And finally, slowly, bit by bit, the ideas started to get a little better. And then a lot better. And then I had a whole plan cooked up for this live show. And this was a very good lesson.
As artists, the only way to make art is to just make it. Even if it’s awful, it’s part of the journey. Thinking about art doesn’t create it. Roll up your sleeves, put aside your inner judge and jury, and dive in. Make something. The only way to take a journey is with one foot in front of the other.
I went to a fantastic PEN America event on Sunday to close the PEN World Voices M Word series. These are my favorite words of wisdom from Hasan Minhaj and Wajahat Ali:
“Every artist needs to play offense. You’re not asking [gatekeepers] for permission. Ask for support. Decide that your work is happening with or without them.” ~Hasan Minhaj
“What advice do you have for artists?” ~Wajahat Ali
“1. Move to the city that has a community
2. Immerse yourself in the community
3. Rise and help others find their voice
4. When you succeed, don’t be an asshole” ~Hasan Minhaj
“What fills the eyes fills the heart.” ~Irish Proverb
Is it wrong to realize you may need to get a new apartment to fit all of your art? I still have a fair amount of wall space, but honestly at the rate I acquire and make art, I’m going to need a new place at the end of my lease. It’s starting to look like the old Barnes Collection in here but I can’t help it. I love to make art, and to support artists by buying their work. My art makes this apartment more than just a place to sleep. It’s the place where I do most of my creative work. I wake up every morning surrounded by work that makes me happy. When I travel, I always make a point to buy art from the places I visit. It supports the local artists and provides me with a way to relive my travel memories every day. I acquired these four pieces in Vancouver, all by Native artists.
I understand that museums have engaged in some unfortunate practices when it comes appropriating items from other cultures. It’s impossible to erase the past; we can make amends with respect, understanding, and concern. The Museum of Vancouver has begun the process of repatriation with the Haida Now exhibit, a thoughtfully curated exhibit done in collaboration with the Haida people. I was fortunate enough to see the exhibit while I was there this weekend. I’m still processing my thoughts and feelings about everything I learned, and I wanted to share these photos with you. Visit the exhibit’s website by clicking here.
This young woman, mixed with a very small group of counter-protesters in the shadow of some of the greatest museums in New York City, was just asking to be free to express herself through art rather than being worried about guns. A simple ask that we must answer with an emphatic “Yes”. Take a look at the future. It’s so bright and I couldn’t be more hopeful. More photos below.
I’ve been using this piece of art as a focal point for my meditation since I found it about a week ago. I bought it immediately, and added it to my art collection. Balancing the head and the heart is the challenge of our lives. It’s a daily process, and one that I’m intently working on. Like a tightrope walker traveling among the stars, all I can do is put one foot in front of the other. I’m learning, one decision, one choice, at a time.
“That’s the magic of revisions—every cut is necessary, and every cut hurts, but something new always grows.” ~Kelly Barnhill, author
I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot as I prep for Virginia Festival of the Book. When I think of my favorite books, plays, songs, and pieces of art, they are the ones without any fat, the ones where every word, every note, every brush stroke is carefully and purposely chosen. That concern, that love is what strikes me right in the heart. Rewriting and editing is the lifeblood of art that lasts. It’s the cuts that matter most because that’s where we find the seeds that need to be planted and nurtured.
In our work and in our lives, exploring our full slate of possibilities before deciding what to do is a critical step that can’t be minimized or hurried. Before we rush to judgement and decide, let’s take a moment to think about what we’d like to do without determining whether or not that’s the best course of action. Let’s lay every card on the table and give it its due before we decide whether or not to set it aside. Let’s dream a little.