I recently read a blog entry by Sharon Butler on, Two Coats of Paint, which uncovered an undeniable truth for me in my own studio practice. What Butler said was:
“I’ve resolved to look at the specific challenges and personal circumstances that form the impetus for each painting as symptoms of larger problems within our society. The problems then become the explicit basis for each painting, rather than simply an inadvertent or unconscious reference. Instead of using process and materiality as metaphor, I want to reinvigorate the notion that abstract paintings can in fact be directly engaged with the world.”
Mrs. Butler wrote this in response to a show she saw of an abstract painter who pushes against traditional esoteric issues in contemporary abstraction in exchange for creating a dialog about political issues today.
After reading her response, it occurred to me how much this kind of thinking resonates with what I have long known inside me- but had not yet made a stand for. Having now awoken to this undeniable reality, I am acknowledging that for me personal meaning has always been crucial to my work, but that I had concealed it under the premise of it being about formal concerns and materials.
One of the reasons for this diversion from my truth is that because my experiences were always changing and I thought that my worked lacked a clear intention. But I now realize that because our experiences will always be changing, the constants of my work are anchored in my formal concerns and my mediums specificity. Having this new awareness has resolved my fear of my work being dismissed as trite, and allowed me to embrace what is, because it is embodied by my experiences and expressed through my medium of ink and paint.
Within the last two years, the issues which I have been bringing to the easel are the unseen issues of motherhood and being an artist, family, the process of gestation, birthing and its counterpart, loss. Although these issues have been personal concerns, they are ones which have been shared by woman throughout history.
Once again, I find myself on the other side of the fence of what is marketable or in fashion in the art world. Like my previous and ongoing interest with Buddhist principles and how they relate to Spirituality in art, these feminist issues have also fallen out of favor since the second wave of feminism has come and gone. That being said, it is no surprise to me that I find myself painting against what is yet another taboo in art today.