Oct 16, 2009

Anderson Ranch

Why is it that everything I do these days seems to give stage to my demons? I arrived at Anderson Ranch earlier this week for a two-month residency, an opportunity to work in a beautiful setting unfettered by daily deadlines, financial obligations and general city pressures. Yet I'm feeling more artistic pressure than ever before.

Anderson Ranch is in Snowmass Village, CO, next door to Aspen. It's a beautiful setting though not as remote as I expected. The people are super nice, food excellent, woodworking/sculpture/ceramics facilities are amazing, photo less so. I have a better set-up in my own studio. But that's OK, I came here to branch out into using other materials to make photo sculpture, but in investigating the realities of doing so I'm wondering if that's the right thing to do. The materials I'd be working with to make the kinds of sculpture I have in my mind's eye are totally foreign to me -- fiberglass, resin, latex, even paper mache. Each has their own properties and tricks that take a long time to master.

I'm not sure I want to diffuse my focus by learning how to make sculpture versus spending time just getting better at more conventional photography. (Of course the all-day exposures and time-lapse videos that I made in the woods are hardly conventional photography.) I wonder if my itch to branch out comes more from an insecurity about the quality of my work as compared to a more authentic desire for new creative expression.

Of course just realizing that I may be harboring that insecurity is valuable. Still, it's unsettling and I feel very much adrift. I've recently felt a greater competence in my photography, seeing my horizons getting better and better, being pleased with the time-based work I did in the woods. Now I want to branch out into photo sculpture? Why?

I think of the various and subtle ways that I sabotage myself career-wise and believe that this could be one of them. There's great power in persistence, there's great power in focus. If I adopt the "what is the universe trying to tell me" mindset that I learned at Esalen, I'd see this unsettled feeling as an opportunity to reaffirm my special gifts as an artist and move past my insecurities about pursuing them.

Ah, the torture of being a gods damn opportunist. Can't I just wallow in my misery for a while?

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