Blog

Posts tagged art
It's a new year! Some Updates!

Wow. Its really been a minute since I last posted. In the spirit of new year reflections, I thought I’d give a quick update on things I’ve been up to creatively/professionally since May. When I look back at the past six months I think the biggest thing I’m proud of are the various internal hurdles, blocks, and hang-ups I managed to push through. These are the projects that really illustrate that for me.  

  • I wrote a book chapter! I’m super excited to be a part of The Care and Keeping of Museum Professionals, to be published by the time the AAM 2019 conference comes around this year. It’s a collection of essays and reflections by museum professionals about creating just and equitable working environments for museum workers. Sarah Erdman, the instigator and project manager approached me to write a chapter about internships. I guess it’s my thing now, which is fine by me.

  • I managed to submit work to a few places. Some panned out, some didn’t, and some I’m still waiting to hear back from, but the important thing for me at this point is doing it consistently. Saying yes to sharing my projects has led to a more consistent practice, and challenges my internal narratives about what is worth doing and sharing.

  • One of those submissions is an essay about museum tropes in American films that has been stuck in my notebook in random thoughts form for a year now. If Fwd: Museums isn’t interested in publishing it, I’ll make sure to share it elsewhere because it was so fun to write (and finish). 

  • Some are the result of trying new visual mediums out, which has been really fun. I put my pizza print from a letterpress class I took at Pratt into the Everyone’s Floored show at The Alice gallery, submitted a cute lumen print into Long Shot hosted by PCNW, and played around with block printing for the Hey Lady Karen Dalton zine.

  • One goal from the Louisiana trip I shared pictures from was to start working on a project that explores the history of St. Malo, a former fishing village out in the marshes of Louisiana that no longer exists. After playing around with different binding formats, writing, printmaking, and map research, I’ve finally put it all together into a working draft of an accordion book. There are a few kinks to work out with the layout and materials, but it’s almost there! I’m excited to share it soon.

That’s all for now!

longshot18lumen

 

Baby steps

I've been trying to escape a creative block for over a year now, and one thing that's been helping is continuing to consume art even if nothing's coming out, and continuing to make things even if they go unfinished or I don't know what to do with them. Sometimes it works but then other times the accumulation of loose ends makes me miserable. Three cheers to the snippets today! 

drawings for unfinished 71 Sullivan Street project

drawings for unfinished 71 Sullivan Street project

found postcard art for never-ending series

found postcard art for never-ending series

About Podcast is about A Piece of Work

A podcast about a podcast about museums about art?!

I was recently a guest on About Podcast, a fun and thoughtful podcast about podcasts. In this episode we discussed the MoMA/WNYC podcast A Piece of Work, specifically the episode "How Questlove Learned to Love Silence". We talk about the epitome of blue, learning to love art, problems with museums, and being still. Take a listen and share! 

The Obliteration of Female Genius

Genius has long been tied to madness, but it is also the realm of men. The raw intellectual power that fosters genius or turns on the light bulb is more likely to be seen as a male trait – whereas female intelligence and skill is perceived as coming from hard work and persistence.

Through pervasive images of the tortured artist and the mad scientist, mental illness in genius men becomes a means through which other-worldly knowledge or creativity is obtained. Their otherwise socially unacceptable behaviors become the bearers of civilization’s greatest gifts, their story that of the tragic hero. Women, however, are not afforded the luxury of their genius taking the forefront of the conversation. Women don’t get to be geniuses; we just get to be crazy.

This particularly rings true when one considers the genius of Yayoi Kusama. Her slow but exponential comeback over the past 20 years has identified her as an icon, but because her current rise to stardom is so linked to a partnership in 2012 with Louis Vuitton and her popularity on Instagram, her work is often dismissed as commercial, shallow, narcissistic, and twee. Moreover, descriptors such as “visionary” and “ahead of her time” become buried beneath obsessions over her age and the fact that she lives in a mental institution.

That her art is informed by hallucinations and obsessive compulsive behaviors is no secret – Kusama often brings up the relationship between her mental illness and her work in writings and interviews – but it overwhelmingly has become a tool that journalists and art critics use to evaluate just how ‘deep’ and therefore serious and worthy of attention her work truly is. Roberta Smith’s review of the Infinity Rooms at the Hirshorn dubs them “Kusama Lite,” and insists that “[the paintings and sculptures of the ’50s and ’60s] are her great achievement.” For Smith, the Infinity Rooms exhibit “sanitizes” Kusama by not paying enough attention to her “psychological problems or genuine wildness” which she finds more visible in Kusama’s earlier works. The ties to mental illness and depth of her earlier work thus also serve the double purpose of proving to readers that the speaker is a true fan, not one of those duped by selfies and polka dots.

Although her work in the 50s and 60s is so beloved by contemporary viewers as the crucible of her vision and “seminal” to pop, minimalist, and conceptual art, it is not until recent years that this narrative has begun to emerge. Even though at the time she was well-known, ground breaking, and influencing others such as Warhol to become geniuses, she did not enter the canon of modern art the way they did following her break from the visual arts and return to Japan in the early 70s. “Not as famous as she should be,” or “she has waited too long to be discovered” is typically how people describe her fame. In the late 60s as a young woman her art involved more and more displays of nudity and sexuality, and her premature departure from the US left her returning to Japan as “the queen of scandal.” It’s not until now, in her 80s, when her sexuality is deemed to no longer be a threat and that her male peers are essentially out of the way that Kusama is coming into her own as an artist.

Her age continuously mystifies the public. That an octogenarian is beloved by millennials, that she is constantly producing new material, that she is finding stardom so late in life is perplexing to many. This persistence and determination is only second to her insanity in its ability to de-emphasize her artistic genius. In a recent Seattle Globalist article in which female artists responded to Kusama’s work, all interviewees mention an admiration for her relentless production, her work ethic, her obsessive qualities, or her persistence in the face of sexism & mental illness. What’s interesting is that in this article Kusama’s mental illness and hard work are not connected to each other; her psychological conflicts provide inspiration or become a thing which she is to overcome, while her “prolific output” reflects dedication, not obsessive compulsive behaviors. Gone is the otherworldly intellectual & creative power identified with genius. In its place arrives a crazy lady who can’t stop working.

Across the decades, Kusama has consistently expressed aspirations of self-obliteration, to lose herself in her art. But the public insists on separating out the pieces of her they believe in most: her insanity, a wacky old woman adorable and desexualized, an attention-seeking publicity grabber, a one-woman Kusama factory. In the process, the parts of Kusama that most seem to agree upon but no one is willing to scream from the rooftops fade into the background: visionary, ground-breaking, brilliant, one of the greats.