ben franklining it on an eight foot chalkboard…phd tt [melding of making, writing and research]
- mfa creative nonfiction [essayist]
- ma art history with emphasis on writing and criticism
- ma art therapy
- local position at md anderson pediatric cancer center [?]
one, two, and three bare/bear (really..when stripped naked) little purpose. two might lend itself to some deeper practice if i could figure out how to tame its unruliness. i’ve always struggled with the idea that art for the sake of art is purposeful or has much value. i find it, yes to be a cultural barometer of some kind with historical significance, there is potential to for impact at the human micro and macro level, yet simultaneously in a trinket economy i also find it to be a meaningless gesture of feeding the consumption machine, the consumption habit cultivated in each of us. the bulk of art, surely not all, falls into this trinket category for me. i struggle in it and around it. perhaps it is why the scale of my work reduces it as a consumptive item. in the same way, this might even speak to why my works is so overtly human, gnarled, sensuous and non-archival. it lives; it is held; it dies.
as i have taught, it has always been to facilitate an opening, an internal access point into deeper things–whether i was teaching science, faith or art. but in the most recent arena, again not for the sake of art, but instead for the sake of the ravenous unruly depth of being human not just in the making but in the manner of living, i have found a closedness, dead spaces. in collegiate academia this faculty of helping students open to their own humanity is not enough, i have sought my habit and attempted to facilitate this opening, to teach access points and how to translate experience into real space, into narrative, into moment, in ways that can be felt by others. i have been quite successful at facilitating initiation into these practices with my students. in this collegiate academic setting however practices at a cohort level become much more about pecking order, gaming, winning, manipulation, taking. survival in this environment requires a closing, a hoarding, a pecking, a stepping, an aggression. this is counter to what i believe, to my nature, to what and how i teach. the specific world i witnessed from its underbelly is not for me. is it always like this? of course not. does everyone in that system function that way? of course not? though the female population leans this way; perhaps an adaption at entering this realm. I have worked my entire adult life and never run into an even remotely similar work space. perhaps i have been extremely fortunate. yet that environment was reshaping me in ways against who i am. that was and is unacceptable. i seek a deeply human space were we help one another open to and explore the deeper spaces of meaning, reflecting, and being truly human and to becoming more than what we are at this very moment. not art for the sake of art; not craft for the sake of craft; not control for the sake of control. it is interesting that as i get further away from a space of supposed cohorting, the teeth that fill my lopsided smile have finally begun shifting back of their own accord, already now the line of my smile is less craggily. i find this to bare an amazing witness to the ramifications of a hostile work environment and the way a body bends under it. i’ve always believed our body holds worlds of knowledge that we often don’t know how to access, or refuse to look at. we, i, can only read its shifting form. clearly the retraction has had a bodily impact that is positive. eventually my mind, feelings and social interaction will recover and catch back up to were i was heading before things got so peckish two and a half years ago.
so now in a nonrushing, nonfrenetic way, i ben franklin my way through my talents, gifts, and where they might take me in a meaningful way, in a way that i am the asset that i am. though a phd would sooth something in me and i love the thought of pursuing the role of writing in the process of those who visually manifest their lives work in real space (whose sketchbooks are filled with the scratching of language), and i will apply. unfortunately it would still put me back into systems dominated by pecking vs depth. but i might be willing to see what is on the other side. writing, nonfiction essay, still is on the table, art writing less so, and i am becoming a tad wary of my belly button gazing. still the risk of systems dominated by peck, peck. art therapy? it sounds a bit mambi-pambi, yet the ideas of opening and accessing inner things through vehicle of making, of art…isn’t that what i sought and taught my college students. yes. it is. and my who life i’ve been a watcher, fascinated with what makes us tick, hunting the whys and hows of human behavior. so fascinating. and haven’t i spent the bulk of my living reading bodies in their languages that ripple across our surfaces with a truer voice of their own. is this what art therapy practices? an exploration of our inner worlds as they surface and become manifested in real space through play of body, mind, and stored memory. and then the art teaching position at md anderson knocked on my emails door to announce itself so that i might apply? it would be a big shift…it would certainly link together my lived passages through the sciences, faith, and art. on paper, i am a fit. it would certainly give me a sense of truly being purposeful in the act of art. frankly i don’t care about the larger culture as a whole, but instead have always cared about its sub units, people, individuals. so whether md anderson or not, my heart says leave ideas of art therapy on my soul table, leave writing on the table, and of course the Dopty will weigh in :)
i will knock on all these doors. a way that is right for who i am will open.0