Conspicuous Consumption

small detail from Isa collage handy man

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

Martha Graham
small detail from Isa collage handy man
Detail from my collage Handyman.

This year I want to create more, and consume less. I am a somewhat reformed magpie in terms of material stuff, but I want to address other kinds of consumption -- my constant nose diving into the national news for instance. It’s an addiction that is chomping into my creative life as I scramble to look at the news each morning. My husband is a writer, and pulled me out of this self sabotage by sharing a snippet from a recent interview.

Daniel is writing a history of Anderson Ranch Arts Center to honor its 50 birthday last year. ARAC is an international cultural icon and has been a keystone of my artistic development -- I have been both a student and a teacher there. He has interviewed dozens of fascinating artists who flowed through the place, one of whom is Tom Sachs. Daniel shared a work habit of Sachs's with me, one which the artist often cites, but bears constant reinforcement: ”First thing in the morning, before checking your email, or reading the New York Times, or Instagram, immediately write in your journal, your dreams or your thoughts, or touch clay -- do something that goes out of your body. The phone calls and emails will come into your day -- you cannot avoid them no matter how hard you try, but you can control your waking moment. You can wake up five minutes earlier and write down your thoughts no matter what.” Sachs often forms a daily vessel out of clay and even travels with a kiln.

I used to follow a similar practice to Sachs's before kids, dogs and news and social media got in the way, or I let them get in the way. I love that my husband is trying to realign me, since I cannot afford my current attention deficit. No one can -- we need to create more than ever.

journal sketches
Journal sketches and writing in the studio.

“Everyone has to sleep, everyone dies, steal five minutes to channel your subconscious and imagination -- it benefits everyone.”

Got it.

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