Abandonment: When Creation Arrives

In September I wrote about refraining from writing or speaking publicly about my work for one year. Specifically what I was referring to was forms of abandonment. Abandoning complexities in a studio practice. The psychological and physical hoops that one puts themselves through to make work. Most, if not all, are of our own making.

This is due, in part, to our time and also to working slavishly for our ego. Few artists work for the advancement of or to add to the discourse of the field. To work toward a simple studio practice? One that is focused, genuine, time and lineage centered? Quiet. Solitary walks, researching…. is that all?

When that space is reached it is ideal. It does not “have its price” it is the job. A life dedicated to art. Ultimately, that has not changed. That is what we have always done – innovate and pass it on. The rest is about something  different that is not the creative act. Nor is it about dedicating one’s life to engaging or adding to the conversation.

The more one complicates their life the less studio work will get done. Understanding that “energy suck” is important because it comes down to one thing; realizing that you have created a place to work and that the work in itself is only pass time. You are bored and ultimately being a studio artist is not what you thought it was. You have entered the space you romanticized and then what?

In its silence, when the sounds of the world are off and no one is around, you sit in the studio and realize this is not what it was cracked up to be.  That if you stop filling time with art world distractions, openings, gatherings, conversations, travel, etc. you’ve got nothing. It has all been coming from outside – not inside. It is about receiving attention i.e. the response to you from “your” public.

The space for which you have worked includes 1. Time 2. Lack of interruption. 3. Intellectual freedom. 4. Just enough to cover the bills. 5. Your health. 6. A bit of recognition/support to move forward…..    and……. you…..    stumble….. There is no “struggle” against anything. The boredom and evenness of creation sets in and you have to make some type of drama. The alternative is to rest in the space that you have created. You are where you need to be in order to do “this”. Now it is not what you think it is.

You lied. You thought you wanted this work and then you find out “no”. This is not it. It is boring. It lacks stimulus. Is this all there is? Making work, reading, researching in a place-less floating creative world? Hell, yes!

Hell, no. It turns out this pursuit of the unseen is not the “right” calling. It is vacant. The space is hard to fill because the reality is that it must be filled with an immense amount of work that brings no glory. You are alone, creating from “nothing”. You recognize that if you cannot turn these empty moments into a circus act you are bored, disappointed. It is too isolating and it is not “fun”. It is an action of mind and body; filled by the influence of all that is around you that must be translated. It is its own language, that few speak and it is engaged in to enlighten or illuminate or transform. 

What you do not know is that is exactly what it was for many who came before you. They never really knew either. You really don’t understand what it is to be an artist and that is bothersome. Because you never really did make work for the good of the field you did it because you wanted recognition.  You wanted transformation; but for yourself. You wanted transformation into someone you ultimately were not.

You did not know that the real work is the silence, the isolation, the long hours of quiet and thought and “nothing”. Emptiness. That this “freedom”,  becomes the crushing quiet, the weight of no interruption, of existing and no one really knowing or caring or even thinking that you exist – this protracted moment of forced egolessness is agonizing because you realize you are ultimately nondescript, atomic matter. Literally.

This realization is when creation comes. Anything before that is about “fame”.  After that is the moment that you do not know what to do,  hence…. stumble? Tragically realize you never wanted this? You fill the space you have created with actions that lack energy and meaning.

Many are called – few are chosen. There is a decision to be made in the deep silence of the space you have created;  when there is no sound, no conversation, no adulation, no phone, no computer, no text, no journal. Are you committed to (not yours) the studio practice? Why?


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