As I have mentioned before, I love looking back on past experiences. There’s nothing more humbling, dare I say life-affirming, than seeing a map of where your choices have taken you, reflecting on how they’ve lead you to the present moment. I gain so much when I do this exercise. It is largely the reason why I journal. I also enjoy this process when it comes to my art work.
In April, I decided 2015 was the right time to build an artist’s website, and once committed to this task, I proceeded to dig deep into my photo archives – as far back as 2005 (yikes!)- when I first entered art school. I am so thankful I had excellent professors who stressed the importance of quality, thorough documentation. Today, I view the work I produced with great pride. I also developed the good habit of saving drafts and final versions of artist statements written to accompany my works. Regrettably, I can`t look back on all of these with the same level of pride; thankfully, I’ve improved!
Disclaimer: not every work I produced during my undergrad will make it onto this site. Some because they are just plain atrocious! Others, though they are excellent quality, after ten years I am simply tired of looking, thinking and writing about them. My work and interests have developed (matured?) from where I was then. I’m ready to move forward. My dear husband takes issue with this quality in me, feeling my indifference towards my work is a result of my compulsive need to purge (I do loath having loads of junk hanging around and won’t think twice about tossing it). It baffles him that I have no sense of ownership towards certain pieces, but I think it’s rather healthy to let go of things that no longer represent you. In my defence, I don’t throw everything away. Some, yes, but others I give away to friends, thrift stores, or I donate them to be auctioned off for fundraising.
The experience of revisiting my work and discerning between pieces to add to my website was a fruitful one. In doing so, I was able to see my work with fresh eyes and critically evaluate their context in scope. Ten years passed by in a flash and now that I can sit back and reflect, I am able to draw parallels that in the moment I didn’t see. I don’t know if I could have seen them at that time either. There’s a delicious perspective that comes with age. Here that T.S. Eliot quote is called to mind once again:
…But the difference between the present and the past is that the conscious present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the past’s awareness of itself cannot show.
Much like viewing a retrospective, themes present themselves as you go along. Commonalities emerge from piece to piece. I would like to discuss these here.
Early in my post secondary career, I showed an interest in semiotics and linguistics. This came as a result of what I would consider early exposure to theorists like Saussure, Kant, and Neitzsche in my later teens, followed by Chomsky, Barthes, and Derrida in my early twenties. I was and still am profoundly curious about connection and understanding through various modes of communication but realized talking about such abstract subject matter was not easy. Perhaps it is in part due to the way I learn, but these concepts made more sense to me when visually expressed. I see these interests explicitly worked through in pieces like Bottled Meaning (2007), Make Something That Transforms You ( ), and Please, sit. Play ( ), but implicitly in Passing (2009).