All original images and text are copyright 2008-2018 Liz Sweibel

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and the day itself was lovely.  Leading up to and following from the day has been really, really hard, and I want to understand why.  Nothing has happened to drive these days to such a profound tiredness, and I have given myself hours upon hours of sleep and naps.

At Thanksgiving, Colleen noted how getting older brings cynicism; we have too much experience (and perhaps bitterness) to maintain an open sense of possibility.  I offered skepticism over cynicism; my idealism may be aging but I am not wired for cynicism.

What I am noticing more than skepticism is a growing remoteness.  My day-to-day emotional life is a vague internal jumble that I co-exist with more than examine.  (Remoteness is built into that sentence, like my emotions inhabit me rather than are me.)  Only an event seems to elicit raw, insistent feeling.  What was once an internally driven process now often needs an external stimulus, something to catch me off-guard and penetrate.

A parallel lull is emerging in the studio.  My interior life is not driving the work as it did.  Outside events tap the same internal concerns, but need to find fresh forms.  A search for the next way to work seems to be opening.  It's inevitable, but brutal.  It is being in the studio with no ideas, moving from place to place, doing nothing or doing anything, and (actively) waiting, for weeks or months.  It is finding reasons to avoid the studio to avoid the lostness, yet knowing I have to be there to catch the next shift.  Was it Picasso who said that inspiration exists, but she has to find you working?  I detest the word "inspiration" (I can be a cynic!) and think Picasso maybe did too.

My work from Memphis is on its way home, and I look forward to seeing it.  Timmy's remains came home with me yesterday, and that was very hard and sad.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A huge pile of tree debris sits in Prospect Park, part of the clean-up after Hurricane Sandy.  The park people keep trucking it away yet the pile was no smaller when I was by a few days ago.

Yet thousands of trees in the park kept their leaves.  On my block, tiny peppers still hang from their branches.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

During a Brief Outage from Hurricane Sandy
I am still trying to approach writing about Parts to the Whole, and slowly, stupidly, realizing that under the circumstances - loss of Timmy, arrival of hurricane, ongoing-ness of the exhibit, a difficult semester - I am giving myself an excessively hard time about it.  Quel surprise.

The response to the exhibit was kind of ferociously positive, with visitors from Memphis College of Art, Rhodes College, the Medicine Factory studios, and Maysey's huge network of family, friends, and contacts.  In terms of conversations, the word to begin with - and maybe end with - is monumentality.  I had expressed to Maysey a fear that these tiny pieces would get lost in the cavernous exhibit space. (Maybe "passing insecurity" is more accurate, because I know my work can - exists to - activate a big space.)  So to have the word monumentality come up again and again left no room for doubt.  (Hmmm.  No space for doubt.)  People simply got it, viscerally and intellectually.  And so, in this vast space that in itself was far from neutral, there was small me with my 29 small sculptures experiencing the purest kind of visibility.  It defied the scale, or filled the room (space).  Most important to me personally, is that it came of its own, as a result of me just being me.

So there's the personal aspect:  the working-through that fuels the work, consciously or not, but is fatal if the work doesn't reach beyond itself to create a recognition in the viewer that is the start of a dialogue.  As much as I dislike writing artist statements, after a million iterations (or more), I see that the statement I have been using for a long, long time is actually acceptable.

My pieces are intimate records of activity that draw attention to attention – given, received, withdrawn, absent.  The visual and visceral impact of each tiny point of contact, overlap, or disconnect are what the work both reduces and expands to.  It matches my experience of the world as the accumulation and juxtaposition of small decisions and acts that seem simple but aren’t: they reveal us, define our relationships to each other and our environment, and open to possibility, stasis, or pain.  It is slight work with a big agenda.

I suspect this one will always be relevant, because it so fundamentally addresses what is important to me as a person and as a person in this world at this time.

Enough for now.  Here are three pieces and another detail from the installation views in my last post.

Wood, paint; 2012; 4 1/4 x 2 1/4 x 1"
Wood, paint; 2012; 4 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 1 1/2" 
Wood, paint; 2012
Left:  3 7/8 x 2 7/8 x 1 3/8"
Right:  4 1/8 x 2 x 1"