Easily distracted, Karly. You’re—well—maybe we can say you’re dreamy. It’s weird when you space out like that, unblinking, crumpled in that dusty chair. What’s going on in your head? Please back up, the guard’s gonna chew you out—you’re right, my nose is a hair away from this canvas but it’s only because I needed to examine those wild strokes, needed to feel them melt into my throat. Contrary to popular belief, paintings are not meant to be (only) seen. They are tasted, those delicious ochres and buttery blues: pop, crackle, can you feel yourself salivating? I can—they are meant to be grabbed (if only in the imagination, MOMA staff: I did not lick your Renoir), they cradle in anguish and prickle in comfort. Conversing with artwork is a full-body immersion, a gift, and oh, how it consumes me. The fauves, the abstract expressionists, the modernists, everything avant-garde and experimental and uncertain and unknown and new (it always has to feel new): rip it up, churn it up, serve it up on a reconstructed plate. That’s what I want, it doesn’t always happen. I like shapes; I’m addicted to form. Dirt, stars, shadows, dust. The ephemeral, the everlasting, the mundane, the inimitable! Different, or the same? Overgrown weeds dance ballet. Chairs’ shadows spar beneath stage lights. Alstroemerias wilt, they pose, they beg, each unique in its dying gift. The show is all around us. The drama is all around us. Feel velvet fibers graze your fingernails as the subway crosses the Charles, feel the fizzing in your toes after you accidentally doze off, hunched. These wonderful morsels are treasures abound. I have felt an unusual attraction to them since childhood. It is sometimes difficult to explain to your mother why the criss-crossing branches above bring euphoria or why you are content to prostrate yourself before murky pondwater, for it is not simply brown but green, and amber, and cobalt, if you try hard enough to see it—so intensely vermilion in those glints of light. The beauty is so much that it overwhelms. And if you cannot be totally certain that others see these things as you do, the safe thing to do is to put it into your art. An interesting paradox, isn’t it? That by exaggerating, by omitting, by completely altering something, a representation can be truer than the original subject. That is my truth. In music, I say: savor the friction. Bathe in it. The listener must be surprised, confused, uncomfortable, poked, and then rewarded. Predictability is out, meandering dissonance is in. (Aside: okay, I’m not totally a heathen—I do love the classics and you can browse my opera playlist on Spotify.) Yes, that’s the spirit of things. And while we’re at it, this is a good time to mention that I don’t believe in revision. If art is an extension of the self, then it happens as it is meant to happen—it happens as an inherent truth of the version of yourself that creates in that minute. I find planning unnecessary and prefer to attack the paper directly with an uncouth stroke. Better to get that over with so we know there are no mistakes now. Stare harder into the paper to see the composition it offers up to you. Accept those suggestions or maybe not. So who’s to say what’s distraction? How can dawdling, daydreaming, distract when there is no other moment so wholly betrothed to the self? Before I end, it would be dishonest to portray my artistic identity as entirely form-focused. Feelings: let’s talk about them. Yes, okay, my art is also about wonder and yearning, and if you press hard enough, I’ll admit it’s a plea to be seen and understood. It is only in my craft that my deepest self is awoken, when I understand what it means to be human. To be alive. To possess the facilities of unfathomable awe and unspeakable longing and know that bond that millenia of people before us have understood. How it feels to be so mighty yet powerless, hopeful yet resigned, the great paradoxes of living and life and humanity. I feel it when I cry the Prayer of the Children. Silly as it might sound, I felt it burn as I listened to the Free Churro monologue from Bojack Horseman. To feel known is an unspeakable relief. And that’s what my art is about, too. To arrange my heart and brain on a humble plate and say hey, look, I get it. And I hope you get me. And you’re not alone. Because shouldn’t everyone get their Free Churro moment?
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