January 3, 2015 –
I almost dropped out of the residency.
After several failed attempts at writing what I was doing at the start of the residency, I eventually posted just a quick update in December. I started thinking: this is out of my league; these people are so much more smart and interesting; my proposal is too academic and dull; I don’t have time and shouldn’t have taken this on; I am disappointing the directors of the program. Clearly. I need to get out and let the real artist do this.
Then I realized I’ve been here before – back in 2011, I did a residency/workshop in the Netherlands with Ruudt Peters, one of the leading Dutch jewelers. The workshop was called “NOW:BREATH” and the intent was to get artists “out of their heads and into their bellies. The week was a 24/7 experience with 12 international participants – we created work and investigations based on topics, readings and discussions. Ruudt pushed us out of our comfort zones and had us collaborating, creating videos and performance work. For me, it was exhilarating and terrifying – I lived in fear of doing it wrong and of risking looking stupid. This tripped me up constantly in the creating of new work – I was constantly worried about what others would think, if what I was doing was worthwhile. I would sit and think and think and think, and my experimentations would be stifled and, of course, overthought.
At the end of the week, he did a critique of each of our past work and performance during the residency. As I held my breath, he called me out on everything – on my repeating ideas because I had had previous success with it, on my reliance on narrative because I was scared that I would be misunderstood, on the lack of risk in my work. At the end of the critique, he said, “You just need to be brave.”
It was at the start of this new year, I was horrified and thrilled to realized I was repeating the pattern when I was challenged here with this residency – horrified that I’m still not brave, but thrilled that I can be if I commit. So my commitment will be weekly postings: even if they’re boring, stupid or rushed. I will be brave for this.