During our five months on the road, I thought a lot about practice. I used this time to hit the reset button on my own studio practice and begin to master some work habits that had always alluded me.
I thought about focus, frustration, fear, confidence, being overwhelmed, and endurance. I though about the necessity of showing up every day and doing something even if it felt like a failure and then trying again the next day and the next.
Now that we are back, I can see the results of this mobile retreat we took: my endurance has increased, I have greater control over my working state of mind, and I know more about what I need to do to work more efficiently.
This blog was a topic in the practice analysis that was going on in my head. Why do I do it? What do I get out of it? Is it worth it? When I began the blog (just before I came to Berlin), I wanted it to be a sketchbook, a place to collect photographs, writing, video, or sounds that might make their way into my work. I wanted it to be part of my practice.
Well, the move did not go well and my studio practice collapsed—or maybe it just went through a very profound and drawn-out change as I struggled to be happy in this place. The blog turned into a way to find positive things about the city rather than a studio tool. The outcome of that shift was that I began taking more photographs (and eventually video), which I think ultimately transformed my work…and my practice.
So I think I’m going to keep it. But if I’m going to keep it, then I want to steer it back towards its original intention. What I failed to understand when I began is that collecting things that interest me isn’t the most important part of what I do. I am an artist and explorer of places. I live in a country that is not my own. And like any person involved in a creative endeavor as a career, my work life and personal life don’t have clear boundaries. The skills I need to work, like endurance and fearlessness, are also skills I need in my personal life. To be happy, make the work I want to make, and live the life I want to live, I need to try, fail, do over, experiment, and just keep going forwards regardless if the progress is clipping along or painfully slow. I need to practice.
// Studio photos from my residency at SFAI in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and my graduate work at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.