Thursday, October 05, 2006


I've started to write poetry lately. One because of my bookmaking/letterpress class and two because it seems to aid in making my art work. I've been thinking a lot lately about how artists create their art. What is their inspiraton and how do they execute it. It is always different for everybody, but it occurs to me that most people these days have a system of rules that they work off of. I seem to wing it most of the time. Ever since starting graduate school it seems as though I'm supposed to have already worked out a system that works for me, and a system that makes logical theoretical sense. Well, I did that in Greece and produced some prints that on the one hand were fun yet on another hand are totally boring. We spent half an hour last week looking at a students project where she creates scribbles. It's all systemetically in order, but it is so boring. Can you believe that we spent such a long time talking about scribbles? It drives me nuts. Then after her, we went and talked to a fellow printmaker who produced some really interesting narrative series, and I think nobody actually said anything about her work. It's so strange to me.
Anyways, back to my poetry. In the past I have relied on moments of anger, frustration, and any other visceral emotion to produce my art. This really doesn't fly in art school. But working through visceral emotions go into writing and then get translated into visual work. For some reason this is okay in art school. So here are my poems and it does help to do these first because I can sort through my ideas better this way.

I was four and Jesus was staring at me.

The death-red glowed blanketing the mucid-room

His face was soft yet he was demented

Between his fingers and his thumb he gripped his heart

A heart still swelling and enslaved to thorns

The hot blood dripped and I started to flinch

Fear encompassed me

He towered over me

"Hell to your soul" he said

He smiled and stared at me as if to say "you are next".

(To ease the pain of moving to a new country my parents bought us a dog.)


I was seven and the Germans were bombing us
Overhead I heard the zooming planes and I panicked
The T.V. said to hide under your bed or better yet go to your shelter
My parents should send us away to the country like the other kids
Why did we come to a country that was at war?
As scared as I was, I was alone
At night my parents turned into aliens
It was better not to disturb them
Eventually the Germans stopped bombing, but the Irish began bombing
My dad would say "did you know that a deck of cards can blow up a building?"
I thought it was a horrific magic trick only Irish people could do
So, I was careful when I played with cards


(To ease the pain of moving to a new country my parents bought us a dog.)

I was thirteen and I was in an Irish nightmare
The Americans were enamored with the Irish
The town we moved to in Wisconsin had five hundred people,
Two Catholic churches, and a man who was once abducted by aliens
A woman asked us over for an "Irish" lunch one day
We walked into her musty house
Green was everywhere
There was a shamrock table cloth
Little glasses with shamrocks on them
Lots of Irish knick knacks that I had never seen before
We sat at the table and she brought out the food in shamrock dishes
In front of us she placed cabbage and corned beef
I had never had corned beef before and my mom never cooked cabbage
This poor old woman only wanted to make us feel at home
It was the first of many Irish meals to come.


general gow said...

you could just surf the net and find interesting people to tell us all about. i can't believe i never knew about him until just now. fascinating guy. thanks for the link. and don't get too discouraged. if you can see through all the copycat b/s, you are just one more step ahead of the rest.

also, and i can't believe i am about to say this, but sometimes art is just about making something beautiful. it doesn't always have to be original. whew. i did it. i said it. i'm not sure i actually believe it, but i did manage to say it for your benefit. haha.

really, keep plugging away, and don't worry about what other artists are doing. look for your inspiration in the rest of the world.

Mandy said... such a torturous struggle being an artist. I'm joking there. Yes, you are absolutely right. I need to stop looking around me and started creating things that mean something to me. I'm just really uncomfortable with sharing my art to people whose job it is to pull it apart and want it to be something else. I think.

You said the naughty "beauty" word, but you are right. I hate this whole argument against making beautiful art. Some people need to do it and do. Others disguise it as best as they can. I'm really against people telling other people that they cannot create beautiful art...there is a difference between Thomas Kincade beauty and Gustav Klimt, but each is valid in that they evoke emotions in people. I wont even get started on commercialism though.
Each to his own!!!

general gow said...

i like to include just enough beauty to draw people in, to get them to think about the content.

and that business about commercialism. i am with you. don't get me started on kinkaide though. klimt, schiele, etc.

i usually have something to say, but i dont really like the idea of always having a plan going in to a new project. some of my best work was, if not accidental, certainly experimental. you have to push the envelope, take chances. that is how new things are found and you learn about yourself. at least, i do learn about me.

A said...

i like this entry and the discussion.

celebrity magazines make me feel physically sick when i try to read them.

lost said...

i too enjoyed reading this discussion, makes me feel not so alone. and adam...what are you doing reading celebrity mags?

lost said...

and mandy, i dig your poems? short stories?

A said...

i'm trying to make collages out of them but it's pretty hard.

general gow said...

my original comment was meant for the talk about the guy who lived alone and worked as a janitor and created art in his own vacuum, and how mandy thought maybe she would revert there and leave the world behind. but now it seems that post is gone. hmm...

anyway, about the torturous struggle, that is what makes it worthwhile. if it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing. if it was easy, anyone could do it and it wouldn't be special. it is totally worth the struggle.

and let's make sure we are on the same page when it comes to beauty. i am not advocating kincaide's version of "beauty." your alignment with klimt, and mine with schiele, i think is more appropriate. imagination, though, is what makes really good. tell me a compelling story with pictures, and you've got me hooked.

a- i like collages too, but if i had to muddle through celeb mags to get it done, i think i'd sooner cut my hands off.

and then again, in some form, isnt there this secret desire for recognition in all of us? in me, it would be to be recognized for be so incredibly creative within the context of carefully plotted doses of beauty and a total disregard for recognition. haha. how's that for well adjusted?

Lisa said...

Art is life, life is art. It is a burden on the creative spirit to be limited to a particular creative method of expression (especially if it is induced by societal conformity - or grad school)

Stay true to yourself. Your poetry is amazing. I especially enjoyed reading them as a collective body of works.

Nels said...

Watching your struggles with art is truly inspirational. The difference between you and I is your ability to express it either directly or indirectly (your poetry). I have to say I am with your viewpoint. I am always preplexed by schools that say their mission is to teach you to express yourself, but when you do they say it is wrong. How the hell do they know?

Mandy said...

I think not enough credit is given to Egon Shieles really truly is the most beautiful work I have ever seen. If he lived longer, I wonder if he would have been even more famous than some one like lets say Picasso?

general gow said...

he did die way too young. his concept of form and shape and composition just slay me. and he was sooooo young to 'get it' that well. a shame.

i saw a show of his work at this little museum around the corner from the met in nyc last fall. great fun.

Dawn said...

Great short stories/poems! I especially like the last one while you lived in Wis. Hope there are more to come.