Just returned to my studio from a lecture by a visiting artist, sculptor Sheila Pepe. You never know what you’ll find at the far edges of experience. Every week, a new presentation of ideas, cracking you open. Tomorrow night, the photographer Deanna Lawson.
I feel so comfortable in the language and reflected of light of an artist showing images, what is now a powerpoint, but what we (of a certain age) still think of as a slide talk. The way the best artists weave a narrative, the story of how and why, unapologetic.
In the darkness, I scribbled almost unintelligiably, in my notebook:
starving for new information, we set the terms, felt free to do the job
live the moment before you start taking pictures of things
optically constructed and messing with trained expectations
expand the world thru opticality and sensuality of the world
naming by making
drawing as naming expressed by electricity
one time operation
dynamic field, computer (can’t read the rest)
flattened; in the cut
colonization of institutional space
set the precedence
four lines I can’t read (something and visual experience; sentences w/ something)
Each work a defined moment in her arc. You just know Sheila Pepe has a studio, a place and space where she can try to make the ephemeral in her head concrete. Maybe with concrete floors. And doors. As tables. Organization and mess, control out of control.
I have fallen in love. This white cube I moved into just a few days ago (and am not even really unpacked) is maybe the most profound thing about VSC. A space in a warren of spaces, all of us rabbits burrowed and hopping together alone. I love being a “writer” in one of the art studio buildings. Especially since the piece I am imagining beginning is both art and writing. I can’t even talk about it, which is a good sign. That I also want to try, to myself, that I am walking around edges, catching glimpses and failing to assign verbiage to ghosts. While attempting. Clawing at spider webs.
This is the first time I walked in today. After turning in my thesis last night, and staying here until entirely too late, I got back to my apartment in the 1’s, woke at 6am as usual, fell back asleep at 6:35ish, slept until 8:30am, made a large french press pot of coffee and padded around drinking cups in my jammies, barely got to work on time at 10am. Worked until 3:15, went home, talked on the phone, went to vinyassa yoga at the yoga studio, ate dinner, answered emails, went to the lecture, and arrived finally at 10pm. It was still here. As I left it. Obscure notes and scribbles on the desktop, a 16mm reel of an old Little Rascals film I found at a thrift/anitque/junque store, books. I am already starting to arrange and curate it, because even though it is a workspace, it is also a visual space. I got two blankets from housekeeping and they are living on my chair.
Maybe I’ll look at my thesis again by Friday. But not now. I couldn’t bear it. But the next thing is looming, and somehow it has to do with being in this studio. Tomorrow I’ll hang photographs I took in Scotland and make to do lists, and write out my list of 50 words that begin to describe the next project, and maybe even start to obsessively define them, and laugh as I find out what they mean, how they talk to each other, secret messages that resound and link. I started the project thinking it was one thing and already it has grown, fingers.
Talking to my mom today, she said she wondered which of the word’’s meanings I meant every day, and I said, “all of them.” Right? Every word is blatent and coded, we always know and don’t know what another person is saying, the layers of intent. When I say studio I mean this, and yoga, and my apartment, experimentation and confinement, structure and abandon inside four walls. Letting go and capturing. Walls that are like paper or a digital page. Safe, yet wild. Mine.
And everything Sheila Pepe said will drift through like quick silver. And everything Aimee said in the writing craft talk. And the drive across the country. All of it will filter into this space and I will stir it, and swim with it, and maybe something will become clear, if I am diligent.
Or I’ll just start making and writing things, and see what happens. Spontaniety is half of it. I edited and added a poem back in my manuscript last night, that I took out in January, replaced a piece I had worked into the ground, clean but dead. The new version of the poem is maybe half the length it was before, and it seemed to answer a question I didn’t even know needed answering. Maybe a wrong choice, last minute, after 5 months of intensive work (and my editor will be so disappointed), but in the end, sometimes you just need to take a left turn.
It is amazing what can happen in a room. It feels like my first real studio. Not in a house, but a space just for making. I wish I could find an inexpensive couch (though I have the chair) so I could daydream/sleep, which is part of the province of artists. Mull, consider, ruminate, catch small glimmers, potential patterns. Webs. It is as if the space of a dream came alive and was bounded by white walls, and I can populate it in whatever jungian way I choose. It feels like my head. What a wild and wooly place to enter, daily, for a year.
Oh, and photographs, how is it they speak so loud? What I couldn’t read in reality is so easy in the photograph above. Sentences with pictures. Ha, of course.
Second oh, did I mention that as I walked to the lecture hall, a bit late, there was an entire arc of a rainbow over the road ending behind the old church/opera house that is our lecture hall? Ridiculous.
1. a room where an artist, photographer, sculptor, etc., works.
synonyms: workshop, workroom, atelier, workspace
a place for practice and exercise.
a room where musical or sound recordings can be made
a room or set of rooms specially equipped for broadcasting radio or tv programs, making phonograph records, filming motion pictures, etc. or in which they are recorded.
a place, or land, where movies are made or produced.
2. a room or place for instruction or experimentation.
3. a film or television production company.
4. a studio apartment.
early 19th century: from Italian, from Latin studium, literally: study, diligence.