New Ways

New Ways

Experimenting with digital collage from the junk mail in my inbox.

At the start of this semester I set out to experiment more in my practice. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to be making but I knew it was time to try new things. The first 8 weeks have flown by and so far it’s been a bit of a revelation. I can’t say any of the work I’m making is really resolved or that I know what direction I’m heading in. But, I do know that I am heading in a new direction and not standing still. Each week in my studio a few more pieces of what I’m trying to do and say start to make a bit more sense. It feels like I’m at the precipice of something that I can’t quite make out yet on the horizon.

One big factor in this shift is my Directed Graduate Projects (DGP) course where a full-time faculty member meets one-on-one throughout the semester to work on an individualized project. My DGP is with Sabina Ott and it has been the most engaging, challenging, and exciting dialogue I’ve had about my work in years. Each time I meet with Sabina we talk about the new pieces I’ve created since our last meeting as well as what reading and thinking has informs the work. Her insights and recommendations have been invaluable. This individualized dialogue helps me to consider and then reconsider my work and intentions within a larger context that I didn’t even know existed a couple months ago. One big change has been the incorporation of fiction writing and reading/listening into my daily routine. First thing in the morning I wake up and write, sometimes mostly while I’m half asleep. When I write I don’t focus on a narrative or grammar, I’m interested in seeing what happens and the merging of images and ideas. I’ve found that in the haze of the morning I tend to write more playfully, make up words, and describe ideas in a way that’s without the pressure of logic. I can’t say that I think it’s “good writing” and surely I won’t be submitting it for an award anytime soon. What this habit has cultivated is a new environment for ideas to develop. These ideas and images that started in my morning writings have started to make their way into my work.

Fragments of making in my studio

As I reflect on the work I’ve made this semester I wonder if I ever would’ve gotten to these ideas had it not been for the dedicated time spent making and thinking about art that’s embedded in graduate school environment. It seems like maybe somehow I eventually would have stumbled on the artists and writers that have been challenging my thinking but it would have been much slower and probably much more confusing. I can’t say that everyone shares this experience while getting their MFA but so far it’s been an incredibly fascinating experience. It’s also been a vulnerable experience bringing a level of uncertainty and excitement along with this new way of making.