Friday, May 16, 2014

The Possibility of Place

This week I have shared two recent road trips with you, through brief text and photographs. A few months ago I was interviewed by SUNY New Paltz MFA student, Maia Leppo, and she asked me about "place." I thought I would share some of my answer with you now because it goes so well with these recent travel experiences. The following is unedited but abridged:

"Place is important to me because it effects me, and thus my work, on a very base or primal and emotional level, and also quite deeply. My surroundings influence how I live and they influence my mood and attitude... 

I think I probably could create work anywhere... Place is a challenge that can be channeled in a special way, in ways that one cannot comprehend until experiencing it first hand, and maybe not even then. 

…Place, especially a new one, influences my work and my process in ways I cannot begin to imagine or expect… I try to not think about what my experience will be like before I get there, too. I try to travel to this new place without expectation, which is a very challenging thing to do, but it is possible. I don’t even like to read about the place before I arrive. I like to have an open mind and not predispose myself to any sort of attitude or emotion…Then when I arrive I take it all in in a relaxed, yet excited way. I walk for miles on end for hours at a time. I carry a map, a notebook, pencils, and my camera. I take pictures of everything, 100s, 1000s of photos. I make notes, I write down how I feel, I write about things I see…and I create facts for myself, evidence…and all of it gets under my skin and comes out through my work. Some things are obvious and clear, while some things are so quiet and subtle I don’t notice until later, perhaps when I have begun a different project... Place educates me on things I have never experienced: culture, landscape, history, people…and inevitably my mind is opened even further and my perspective changes. I like to meet people, I like to sit and watch people, I like trying all sorts of new foods and find music and art that was created there. I visit museums and historical buildings. I look to tucked away spaces and places that only locals know about. I wander, I walk every street or along miles of coast, I walk through beautiful neighborhoods and less than desirable ones, fields and forests, I walk down alleys maybe I shouldn’t walk down and climb through places that are a bit treacherous…and sometimes I just sit and do absolutely nothing. None of this can be expected to happen or forced. I don’t think it would mean as much or feel as important. For me, these new experiences also create humility, empathy and compassion. And finally, all of this ends up relating to previous experiences in other places. They play off one another and I may begin to recognize patterns or answer questions I didn’t even know I had. What ends up happening is I get to know myself better as a person and as an artist. It’s amazing to me."

Thanks for reading.

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