First: I'm a totally open book because I’m not the book. My work is.
I believe that we have to be very clear nowadays with who we are, what our purpose is and what our views are. We cannot afford the luxury of ambiguity or obscurity. That is not to say that my work derives from a clear intellectual agenda. It doesn't. I work from my heart, from my gut, but I also believe that this does not absolve me from self-reflection, from answering my own questions and from ownership of what I present. Interestingly and not surprisingly, I, without fail, get asked the best questions about my work from people outside of the very insular art world, and, to that effect, the most god awful questions from people very much entrenched in the art world. The questions I'm answering here are, quite simply, some of the best and worst questions I have been asked. I'll leave it up to you to decide which are the best and which the worst. I add to these all the time, and I present them publicly like this because, as I said, in today's world, we need to own our ideas, to have some humility about them, to allow them to evolve, together, communally, to not view ourselves as the singular hero with all the solutions and ideas contained within.
I am presenting these questions and answers for the world to read in the belief that it will do some good in the world for art to be knocked down a bit from its overly academic pedestal first and foremost, and I believe that insight into my ideas and thinking will add greater access to my work, which benefits the greater good in some, at least, marginal way (I hope). Lastly, and most importantly, I think that the language of the art market and its purveyors has become a form of elitism that has led to the over financialization of art by falsely equating intellectual inaccessibility with value. That is a big mistake, a fundamental mistake, in my view. Art is ours. I want to help be a part of giving it back to us. This is part of my process for doing that. On the opposite spectrum of that, I want to be careful because I recognize that there is a core belief in American society that shuns intellectualism as anti-American and exclusionary and anti-populist from the start, and I think that's a problem and a mistake too. I believe totally in the democratic exchange of ideas, and that we should not be afraid to share, shape and craft our ideas as a culture and do so intelligently and thoughtfully while allowing for the most diversity we can tolerate; when we don't do that the narratives that come to define our ways of being as a society can become twisted, become beasts, demons that control us or, worse yet, are used to control us. Ideas are freeing. Words, language and art are freeing. So, I dive into it completely.
We artists are never smarter or better than any other profession. We make things, hopefully things that add value to society. Perhaps, the things we make can rise to the level of being culture-shifting; perhaps these things we make can help us understand ourselves; perhaps, these things may even someday function as little time traveling truth capsules to help keep us connected to each other throughout the ages; things that help each new generation see that its concerns are universal, timeless and that they are not alone. That is the contribution art should strive for, in my view. I don’t think artists speaking vulnerably about this process and their work can nor should damage that ambition. I think it can have the opposite effect and enhance the societal purpose and function of art. I believe that we need to do a lot more speaking with each other, across professions, cultural differences and barriers, across anything that separates us and do so with humility, with a heart willing to learn, to heal, to change. I believe now is the time, above all others, to begin removing the barriers between us, to write a new culture-story for humanity.
Additionally, I'm completely open to the possibility that I have no idea what I'm doing with my artwork and that through my own conversations and viewings of my work, I could learn things I'd never considered and grow and evolve. I believe deeply in humility right now, at this specific point in the human experience; I believe it is our only hope, because we certainly aren't succeeding and everything has to change, and by that I mean the most fundamental things in us. No genius is going to save us now; no great artist; no great capitalist innovator; no conservative capitalist or radical socialist uprising. It's up to us now, all of us, outside of the "-ism's" to reach in deep and evolve our souls and love and heal each other or we will all, together, despite any status we may have today, be swept into the dustbin of time and be erased for good. We have to talk about that. We have to bring the voices in us up and out. As Rebecca Solnit said in a recent interview, roughly quoting from memory, "Through their work, artists need to elevate the voices that are marginalized, quieted by society, the ones that are doing the work to change society for the better." I can't do that if I'm not willing to think about my own ideas and work through them honestly, and I believe, publicly, in a state that I'm willing to commit to, warts and all.
My ideas will change, and that's OK. We all need to start being more OK with not knowing everything and not knocking each other down as a proxy for the kinds of discussions that can truly evolve us. So, in a way, what I'm saying is that my art isn't better than you. I'm not better than you or smarter than you. I don't have the answers. My work doesn't have the answers or any kind of special insight that will save us. It is here to elicit emotions, thoughts, interactions, and this discussion I'm willing to have publicly is simply more of that and hopefully for the better of us all.