Evolution of a Practice

Evolution of a Practice

Photo taken by Dustin Seelinger Interdisciplinary Book and Paper MFA

Photo taken by
Dustin Seelinger
Interdisciplinary Book and Paper MFA

As I’m checking in from a coffee shop called the Flying Pig on the coast in North Carolina, surrounded by a pile of research books for thesis, I wanted to write a little bit about evolving art practices. I’m sure I have mentioned this before, but my current practice is not at all the practice I thought I would have when I started at Columbia College Chicago’s Interdisciplinary Book & Paper Arts program.

When I finished up my undergraduate practice, I was doing mostly large, near human scale self portraits of myself as super heroes. The reasoning behind those was playing with a life long love of comic books mixed with a desire to be a super hero to my young kids. I was very happy with my practice, but I knew that I wanted to do more. Something different. Then in my graduate school research I stumbled on the Interdisciplinary Arts MFAs at Columbia College Chicago. I had started doing some handmade paper and book making toward the end of my UG career. It seemed like a good fit.

Originally I had the idea that I was going to be making these Augmented Reality book objects/experiences. I was wrapped up in the idea of mixing media and books and well, yeah, there was no other program I found that I could do that at. So I applied. I got in. The rest is history…


When I got to Columbia, I didn’t start making those AR Books. As I’m marching into thesis, I still haven’t made those books and I probably won’t either. And that’s ok. What did happen was that I started thinking critically about what I wanted my art to say. I found a natural evolution to the art I was making before and realized that you don’t have to make drastic leaps in your practice.

I came to this conclusion that the art I wanted to make was about family. A broader view of what I had been doing in UG, where I was focusing on my role as father, now I wanted to examine parenting, specifically what parenting is like in subculture. So I made a book. And it failed as a project. Then I made some paper and it worked as a process but not as a project. Then I made some drawings, some just as drawings, some as a handmade paper process and they worked. Then I started writing my personal experiences of parenthood and it became a blog. That worked okay as a starting point, but it became very narrow, like my UG drawings, so I thought about making it a community project. Then I started a zine. Then I made some videos.

Still those AR books are nowhere to be seen. In fact, the bulk of my practice is in very analog book making. I guess the most important thing I have learned so far in my graduate studies in the Interdisciplinary Arts is that you need to take the art where it needs to go, not necessarily where you think it should go.