Another "dying sculpture".
Mikel and I had a conversation last night about ephemeral-ness in art. It began when I admitted that I like the final "product" of my painting more than my sculpture (unless I consider the documentation of the sculpture the final product in which case I like it as much as a painting.) I think this is due to the fact that my sculpture is more of a stage performance, something that will exist for a certain amount of time before I take it down or before it totally deteriorates. Mikel suggested that perhaps there is more comfort in knowing that something will last (and conversely discomfort with something that deteriorates quickly). But he also talked about the value in lasting objects, like nice books, for example, that one can look at over and over again. They are a reserve or collection of information that doesn't change (or changes very slowly). There is value in both. I wonder why I prefer the more lasting collection of information more?
a black flower
Thoughts on thoughts: Have you ever walked into your studio, or sat down with your sketchbook and suddenly realized that your mind is super noisy and that there are obsessive thoughts repeating themselves over and over again in your head? Or have you ever been plagued with the desire to make the most unique things EVER and then felt totally slammed when you realized that someone else made the exact thing you did?
In Buddhism there is a tool called Dhamma Vicaya which allows anyone to step away from a thought, observe it, decide whether it is a helpful thought or not, and then to choose which thought(s) to move with. I heard a hilarious analogy last night at Dharma Punx. Josh, our dharma teacher, said that thoughts are like trains. We have a choice about which train we jump on but usually we just hop on the first one we see without any idea about where it is going. But we don't have to! I don't have to sit in my studio and hate myself or my work but how do I stand back and where is the train schedule?
Check out these ideas:
*Our thoughts are not our own. Everything we have ever said out loud or in our head we heard or learned somewhere else. By dis-identifying with our thoughts we are able to be more objective (less emotionally attached) to what we are thinking.
-For example, everything I write in this blog I learned somewhere else. Even the things that I learn through my own experience are colored by my socially constructed mind or by an experience that many other people have had. Even my art is not particularly unique: it references other artists' work, even art I've never seen. It's not because I copied it or they copied me. It's because our work comes from similar human experiences. It's true: that race to find the most unique idea EVER in the studio is a bunk idea. It's an idea that Modernism was fueled by. There's a reason Modernism gave way to new art movements.
*Our thoughts do not indicate anything about our identity.
-My thoughts are not "me". If they were I would be crazy! (although, who's to say I'm not ;-) I would be at once totally stuck on myself as I attach to the thoughts I love to attach to ("I'm so awesome and creative! I'm better than him. Everyone likes me!") and also totally depressed as I attach to negative thoughts ("I suck. I'm not doing anything worthwhile because I'm making any money. Will he be mad at me for not taking his suggestion?...) See? Crazy. And that's not all of it! The truth is, I'm not totally awesome or totally worthless. Maybe my thoughts or actions are, but I am not. I'm just a girl trying to move around in this life doing the least amount of harm and looking for lasting happiness.
It's also helpful to think of thoughts as friends/separate "people" that we are choosing to spend time with. Would I rather spend time with the friend who is telling me I am better everyone? Worse than everyone? Or maybe with someone who is telling me that I'm human, having experiences like everyone else and that we're all connected? (I choose that one!)
So what the heck do I do when I am bombarded with thoughts?
1- Take a breath.
2- Notice where you feel any tension in your body. Every thought comes from an emotion. Every emotion manifests in the body someplace. Find it.
3- Ask yourself:
-Is this thought true?
-Is this thought helpful or useful?
-Is this the right time?
If you answer "no" to any of these questions, you can step away from that train and choose a new one. These questions are the key to choosing which train to hop on. They are a sort of DIY train schedule. But first you have to breathe and come back to your body in order to be able to choose.
And seriously, if your ideas are true, useful and come at the right time, your work is totally awesome and valid, despite the fact that it may look like someone else's.