I’ve been a fan of Bethany Collins‘ chalkboard and erasure drawings ever since I saw her installation at Boom City, a pop-up art event and installation by Atlanta’s own Dashboard Co-Op. Her vast arrangement of tiny marks is quite similar to my own practice, both in gesture and meaning. She writes:
I am interested in the unnerving possibility of multiple meanings, dual perceptions, and limitlessness in the seemingly binary. Drawing objects repeatedly allows me to fully understand the object in space, while defining and redefining my own racial landscape.
One of the most agonizing parts of making art is trying to explain your work to other people. A majority of artists would probably agree with me when I say art work is supposed to speak for itself; that’s why we make art work in the first place. If we could have expressed the idea/concept/feeling in words, then we would be writers and poets. Our gesture is our word and our end product is the essay.
But of course, the world just doesn’t work that way. Audiences want to understand what they see using context and background of the creator themselves. Thus the ever-annoying request for the “artist statement” (as if the work itself didn’t state anything already). If you look closely enough, I think all art is merely a reflection or manifestation of the personality of the artist. Sometimes they can cite theories, events, and other matters that informed their original purpose – but in the end, I kind of just don’t even care. I know that sounds pretty terrible to say as a person in the art world, but regardless of how much I learn about the artist or what the work is about, all I really need to know is how the work makes me feel.
Artwork is a form of communication that relies heavily on the success of impressing internal change within a viewer. It’s a personal experience informed by subjective opinions and histories. Work that makes you gasp, work that that makes you cringe, and work that makes you love and hate – it all did something noticeable to you and perhaps even only you.
I am pretty uncomfortable and sometimes terrified when people as me what my work is “about”. I wish there were a simple elevator speech I could regurgitate on command. And I wish all my work had a single meaning or perspective, easily understood with a concise goal in mind. But here’s the thing. It just isn’t.
I do my best work when I don’t have a plan. When I am free to act on impulse without worrying about meaning or judgment, the marks flow through my hands readily and I enter a state of pseudo-meditation. I guess you could say I’m “in the zone”. Letting go of the “statement” of my work gives it the room to breathe and find its own visual voice. After a few of these sessions, I can sometimes say that the drawing is complete, but rarely am I ever proud of what I’ve made. The equal amounts of loving and loathing seem to negate each other and they just are what they are.
My work is me. It’s from me, it’s about me. Everything that I am as a person has some sort of influence on what comes out of my hands. My history, my aspirations, my self-imposed handicaps… it’s all there on the paper.
There are honestly so many negative thoughts running through my head right now that I feel like I can’t even type fast enough to get them out in a clear manner. I just spent the last hour driving home from an extras gig, bawling the entire way. I didn’t want to bother any of my best friends with a random whiny phone call so I just allowed myself to jump into a pit of sorrow and self-pity. I simultaneously love and hate that I feel so strongly about my journey. Right now the only word I can use to describe it is lost. I feel so, so, so lost. All of the time. Well, maybe not ALL of the time. But it certainly feels like it right now, as more tears roll down my cheeks.
Important note: if you are a real life friend or family member of mine – never mention anything about this post to me in real life. For the sake of my pride, I’d like to pretend that I still have a shred of anonymity and dignity when it comes to this blog. The reason why I write it here and cannot discuss it in real life is because I just can’t bring myself to let you see me this way.
Iman works at the art gallery where I first began my journey here in Atlanta. She wasn’t hired immediately after we interviewed her, but she was always lingering in the back of our heads. She exudes a quiet and graceful beauty that sneaks up on you and stays. I try to visit the gallery for every opening night and at the last one, Iman looked completely stunning (in that subtle way she has). Her pairing of white jeans with this sheer shirt-dress is just the best.
Completely elegant casual. It’s no surprise that she not only dresses beautifully, but creates beautifully as well. Her sculptures and drawings are as delicate and earthly as her fashion style reflects. These are some of my favorite pieces of hers: