Years later when I was applying for a part-time photo instructor in the college's art department, I assumed Sue had retired or gone elsewhere. When I got to the interview, I learned that she wasn't a photography professor but rather taught drawing and printmaking and was still at the school. Talking with her later I learned that she had gotten a new digital camera and was just fascinated by what she could do with it, so that was one of the things she did during her sabbatical. It was an outstanding piece.
As I taught there, it became apparent that Sue was my person at the school. We would talk and just feel better about things. That is a friendship that has deep respect within it. We talked a lot about "real artists" and we both consider each other in that category. (I would toss a little something in her coffee when she wasn't looking to get her to feel that way about me.)
When I asked Sue if she would be my artist of the month, I expected a firm apologetic no. But here we are and she explains this in the opening of her contribution to this monthly feature of mine.
I had also, rather wrongly, described how much I loved that she would find something of interest and almost abandon her other work in order to investigate that type of expression. Sue also explains connections and how her work is connected even, if at times, it might look tangential.
I couldn't be more thrilled she is going to take us on a journey through her work and thought processes in the next few weeks. This will be something for students and educators to take note of as she really is giving us a gift with what she is sharing. (Stop blushing Sue and yes, I heard what you just said to me and yes I too am glad we're such close friends that you can say that to me!) Please share these around so others can learn more about the process of creating work. There are few better explanations than what she will share during this month. It amazes me how open and giving she is, and what depth her work has meaning and experimentation. A true artist. Thank you Sue. I love you and I love what you have sent me to share this month.
Rich said, “….your boldness to drop one thing to focus hard on another is amazing.” Well, the “ amazing" bit there was kind, but I worried that in my work it appeared to others that I drop things and move on to something else. Since I do not see my work in that way at all, I plan to set up this presentation in an effort to explain that. In my mind, my ideas and works have flowed smoothly from one to the next. Like most artists I work in series, so for each one of these images there were many more along that same theme. There were also many more series of drawings, but I have tried to put the brake on showing too many images. We will see how that goes. :)
Truthfully when Rich asked me to participate in this artist project, he said to me, “You are not bound by convention or what is expected. You are driven by what is on your mind.” My immediate reaction was wait a minute. Isn’t that what all artists do? The reviewers, critics and art historians are the ones who write about those conventions and movements. They write about what we have done. We are always moving ahead. We are never bound by convention or what is expected. We are always driven by what is on our mind, no matter what kinds of artists we are.
From the cave painters 30,000 years ago to contemporary artists of today, we have always been commenting on our lives and the world around us. We have found so many ways to do that and we will continue to find new ways. Always in attempts to answer questions. What do I love? What do I hate? What do I fear? What am I thinking? What should I be thinking? What do I want to think? Do I even need to think? This is what we artists are and have always been. We ask questions in pursuit of answers. This is who we are and this is the way we work. Each of us find our own ways to do that. That is beauty of art and artists. We are in essence reporters of our time. This is how we see ourselves and the world around us.
This other early work of mine was probably done in my senior year of high school. I look at this tempera painting decades later and wonder why I chose that image to paint. Why and how do we artists choose our subjects? Since we could choose anything at all, what influences our choices? Why and how do we make these decisions? Sometimes we know and sometimes we do not. What was I thinking as I chose this image? What was this boy thinking as he sought out the safe rocks to step on? How did I relate to this boy? How do all of us relate to this boy?
At that time I was trying to find ways to talk about human behavior by using inanimate objects as my subjects. There were dolls coming to life on their own by pulling their own voice cords and dolls getting themselves out of boxes that confined them. I did portraits of people by drawing their clothes. I bought a truckload of mannikins at an Amish auction near where I lived at the time and often used them as subjects as in this drawing entitled Illusion. The female is sitting wrapped in beautiful fabric looking royal, but when she looks in the mirror, she only sees chains.
I was out of fruit and vegetables and wanted to try out those long nails. There were eggs in the refrigerator and I wondered if I could actually hammer a nail into an egg. Sure enough, I ran a nail right through an egg onto a two-by-four. The strength of that egg was fascinating. Such resilience. This seemed like a wonderful symbol for the resilience of people.
As the series went on, I began to identify with the egg beater and wondered about his life. Was he really bad? Or did people just see him as that? I proceeded to make the eggbeater an eggshell mask. Yes, I really did that. :) The eggbeater became like a sympathetic character in a play.
These three panel drypoints read from left to right. In The Real Me Was Just Too Much he was getting along quite nicely while he wore his eggshell mask, but when he left the room and returned without his mask on, the real eggs freaked out and cracked open. In the first panel of Delusions of Grandeur our eggbeater looked at himself in the mirror and only saw himself in black and white. On his wall is a poster of his hero the electric mixer and it is in color. So in the second panel the eggbeater goes to the store to buy something to make himself look more like an electric mixer. He buys the electric cord and goes home and puts on the cord and plugs it in and voila! it worked. Now he sees himself in color.
As can be seen, I continue to concern myself with human behavior. Not only what people do to each other, but what do we do to ourselves? How many people want to be someone else? Or at least they think they need to do that?