Being vulnerable in art and life

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I think too much; over-processing and overwhelm.

Supposedly there is a new category invented to describe us – we are ‘highly sensitive people’. I hate names and catgories, so resist belonging to this group. I don’t want to be highly sensitive. I want to be normal. Well, a bit more normal maybe.

As Grayson Perry says, ‘Artists notice things’. This is a far more civilised way of putting it and I can go along with this. My artworks are where stuff I notice gets mashed up, reorganised in a mental spin dryer and regurgitated in a new composite form. Like making felt from wool. Compressed, condensed down. As truthful as I can make it.


It’s great listening to other artists talk about their work. I’ve been tuning in to some Yale Lectures this week via the blog of the American painter Angela Fraleigh. Included is a lovely long interview with the New York painter Lisa Yuskavage, who is a peer and friend of John Currin. These are all artists that I find intriguing, people who mess with art history and hijack it rather than running away.

Anway, Lisa is pretty out there and chatty, and I love her generous attitude. She talks about being vulnerable without using the actual word – words like crisis and depression are used. I feel with and for her. Been there too. She says, ‘The art needs to reflect me in my lack of glory… I don’t mean to be well behaved. I want communication.’ Well, her art is certainly not well behaved, and she has been cut down for it. Good for her for sticking to her guns and not caving in. She also says, ‘If it looks like something you’ve seen, then why would you make it?’ It just turns into execution. No matter what you do in life you have to put yourself into it to feel whole; not be afraid of rejection; be happy to say ‘This is the stupidest thing I ever made’ and go with it.  ‘You can’t make an object that you are certain that others will like.’ It boils down to the courage to push forward.

Lisa has a fabulous website with high res images – a gift. And below is a video of a recent artist talk accompanying her show at the Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis.

More vulnerability is needed in all aspects of life. Meaning honesty instead of pretending. Meaning being willing to get cut down.  There’s enough phony stuff in life already.






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