As I’m assuming many of you are doing during this crazy quarantine time, I have been connecting with friends in as many virtual ways as possible and having some great conversations. What happens when a nation full of artists is thrown into what is essentially a 6 week artists residency? Many amazing thoughts and conversations have transpired as a result of deep and creative thinkers actually having time to think. In my last blog post, I offer 10 ways artists can be productive during Covid, as to be productive is always my goal on any given day. However, as this quarantine endlessly drags on, I find myself embracing this time of quiet and instead of watching and creating promo videos, I’ve actually spent LESS time on social media. What this will do for my teaching career remains to be seen, but what it has done for my studio work has been fantastic. I have been able to write, draw, read and make the time consuming encaustic paintings I had stopped making because it was so important to make, make, make as much as I could for whatever reason. So this month, I’m sharing with you an email by my lovely and talented artist friend, Christine Aaron, in which she discusses the joys of being (un)productive. An excellent addendum to her thoughts is a good article Christine shared with with me in this same email, Against Productivity in a Pandemic. A sampling of Christine’s sensitive material investigations in printmaking, handmade paper, sculpture and installation is below and you can see more at her web site and follow her on Instagram.
I am trying to resist the need to produce. It’s that constant drumbeat of the american work ethic. The idea that we are only as valuable as the work and the things we produce. I got a lot of affirmation for being the “good girl” and huge emphasis put on the value/necessity of producing, as in productivity equals value. I had a huge issue when I stopped working outside the home and found myself needing to daily justify my existence by what I accomplished. It is till the hardest part to let go of for me… this idea that to call myself an artist I have to at least make enough $ to earn my keep.
I want to say…Just stop. For a week or two. Slow down. Recognize all we miss every single day with our rushing around. Take stock. Reprioritize. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself just….be. Read sleep breathe, walk, notice….
The drumbeat of do do do is hard to resist but I am trying.
Feel there is so much more to learn than a rush to do everything as we used to. I think part of that urge is the drive to shove the uncomfortable aside…to bury oneself in the familiar. To not think too deeply or feel too deeply. I want so much for humans to come out of this with a renewed recognition that we need in-person contact, that devices aren’t enough, that touch and intimacy and connection is essential to our health.
Reading, watching Art21, doing puzzles, walking, meditating. I plan to be in the studio each day..but NOT to produce for a specific end goal. Making to make, for the pure pleasure of exploration, experimentation, happiness, curiosity (what if what if what if) and putting aside material conceptual “goal”, “should”, “product” concerns to a much later date. To play, to read, to daydream, to give myself some quiet time. Stain, sketch, dye, stitch and experiment. Once this is all over I’ll see what it all adds up to.