my intent to which they’ve agreed is to drive my bum, belongings, and my big ass art footprint out to the dust driven plains of academia in lubbock, tx to pursue my Fine Art Ph.D. in Critical Studies and Artistic Practice at the crossroads of Visual Arts, Creative Writing and Psychology. see i’ve already given way to proofing and grown up lettering…sigh…oh wait i was discussing my intent…here goes…not just my intent but also how i got to this intention…the adventure begins now that i’ve signed the dotted line on a multiplicity of agreements and funding (YAY!)…
the arrival of and my intention…
Hair matted and clinging, man-beater tank top saturated with sweat in embarrassingly feminine patterns, the salt and grime stings my eyes as my chica muscles finally give way to the working of these damn resistant and disobedient materials. At times, I make nine-foot vaginas, and I make a lot of them. I attempt compliance from these evolving gender specific beasts–stitch, weld, and suspend large masses of remnant rubber from gallery ceilings and walls alike. Even the pine of my microforest, unyieldingly bear my works weight. Initially in exhaustion, I would sit, scratching pen to page, unpacking my thinking, my methods, my mistakes, my making, my life. Somewhere in the space between visual making and plying this pen to page, writing has taken hold. I mistook this gesture as a respite of sorts, only to watch the centrality of my writing unfold as lead, the core of my making. I cannot get to the form without the writing. The working is an unruly pushing and plying, a raw and intimate play back and forth between text and artifact. It has taken me a while to grasp the role writing has taken. I’ve had the habit of leaving it as first draft, a mere trace of my making. My understanding of it now shifts. The ongoing act of writing, the dependence on it, the hunger and need for it, the resultant smittenhood of the art critic in reviews and residency directors in person who speak more to my online texts than my making, all drive my awareness of the needed shift.
Consistent with my interdisciplinary practice there seems a constancy of writing in the life of visual artists whether it be the letters of Van Gogh, the essays of Donald Judd or Robert Motherwell, the journals of Anne Truitt or Annie Albers. Art journals, memoirs, diaries, anthologies of visual artists’ writings proliferate on the bookshelves. Yet, I’ve not found anyone asking why? Not why the all these published writings, for people generally are curious and a tad envious of the artist’s journey, but why all this writing from artists known as visual makers. What are the functions writing fills for the visual artist? Is there a key component in the writing, formal or informal, published or not, that sustains the visual making throughout a lifespan? Is there a correlation to success in terms of being “known” or remembered? Is this drive specific to a specific trait, introversion or extroversion, gender, learning style, art process, personality, or familial expectations? Am I just biasedly seeing a pattern because it matches my own process? In the field of the social sciences, researchers have been publishing studies linking writing to increased rates of physical, emotional, vocational, and spiritual healing and health. James W. Pennebaker’s research in linguist inquiry and word counting-LIWC seems a viable source and methodology to bounce my questions off. Other theorists and researchers, Kenneth Gergen, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Brene Brown, and Charles Duhigg, seem to come at the questions more indirectly, perhaps simply tangent relationships. Interestingly their primary mechanisms of data collection appear to be their subjects’ writings, self-reporting. Can the social sciences provide an avenue to peer into the writing practice of visual artists to identify its functions? As well, is there a parallel or a method of insight to be gained in the literary arts, writers writing about their own process of writing as seen with Thomas Merton, Anne Lamont, Phillip Lopatte, Madeleine L’Engle, Joan Didion, and Susan Sontag?
My gut leads me to believe that there is a correlation between a writing practice and a life long sustained making practice. Through the vehicle of contemporary art history, the social sciences, and the literary arts, I intend to collect and analyze relevant writing patterns through the literature and the lives of contemporary artists via qualitative (leaning toward grounded theory methodologies) and quantitative (linguist inquiry and word counting-LIWC) research, and through my own process of writing and making. Additionally I intend to take the identified components of the writing practices and develop a series of cohesive essays, a book being desirable. I would also like to harness and test specific applications of relevant writing components within the academic setting for studio artists..
Finally, my teaching experiences as Visiting Professor of Art at Sam Houston State University 1 developing a contemporary interdisciplinary foundations program in conjunction with a contemporary art history lecture component [WASH] and as a teaching fellow, Graphic Communication MFA at UH [2003-2006], along with my writing and making practice equip me to competently develop a series of seminar courses for visual artists that introduce the writing practice beyond the artists statement—writing as sketching, writing as a sustaining practice for the visual.
I am thrilled to have this opportunity to pursue these questions with the Fine Art, Experimental Psychology, and Literary Arts Faculties.
PS I am very nervous about moving from my lush microforest and artist altered hermitage to the barren dusty plains of west texas and moving my big ass artistic foot print. feel free to buy any of my work to help me offload it!!! feel free to rent (or even buy) my magnificent hermitage in the piney woods.0