I do not remember learning how to read as a small child but now as an adult I feel that I am only just learning to speak, learning how to let my hands articulate that voice through my work.
I sit at my kitchen table with coffee and clementines along with the memory of my own lack of openness to my voice. It’s taken a decade or so to resolve how the word artist relates to me. There was a calcified construct in my mind of what an Artist was, looked like and did that I could not reconcile with what I felt in the deep hiding place of my bones.
I had studied the traditional techniques with heart breaking sincerity. I shared many a companionable rainy afternoon with the quietly tender, loudly opinionated and very funny intellectuals that make up the works of art in the Art Institute of Chicago. I tried so hard for so long to fit myself into what I thought I “should” be as an Artist, ignoring that for me it could feel like an itchy ill-fitting sweater with a turtleneck.
I think of, and undoubtedly mis-remember, a quote from a film, where a character asks another, where she is ‘in all this.” I often wondered where I was in what I was making. I found myself in a long-haul battle royale with my hard-fisted gang of self-imposed artistic cannons against a puny but wily little opponent in the form of an idea the size of a poppy seed.
Once the little idea of the fundamentally conceptual nature of such mundane things as words slipped into my resistant brain I was a goner, who did not yet know the battle was over. With that idea co-sprung the medium. A roustabout’s impatient challenge to use something so banal, so ridiculously shallow and yet somehow interestingly culturally weighted. What had the genie been keeping locked in that bottle of perceptions? Sequins. Even worse: to approach the use of sequins and beads, with a needle and thread as a legitimate medium. The great challenge became no longer boxing in the techniques and materials I had come to think of as crafts. I had to strip down my understanding of the materials to their fundamental natures of color, texture and reflectivity.
Unlike the alphabet of my childhood, I very much remember my stumbling struggle and false starts to learn this, my visual lexicon. Now, after thousands of hours, thousands of yards of thread, tens of thousands of beads and hundreds of thousands of sequins, with surprisingly few bent and broken needles, I can finally speak with this, my voice.