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Old 10-12-2008, 08:20 PM
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tonofelephant tonofelephant is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Martinsburg, WV
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Re: What's your intension as an artist?

SH -
I have to write my dissertation soon and am currently being prompted to really start taking control and responsibility for my creative practice, and to distinguish what it is I'm trying to say to the world through my art and why.
You have my deepest sympathy about having to slice and dice your love for an occupation to satisfy some academic. I have seen several studies that show that once an artist gets beyond a BA their complusive/obsessive need to make art is snuffed out. What is left is the dry, barren desert of despair. Where did the love of art go? Imagine if you can, if you had to write a dissertation on the beautiful person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with - I imagine that you would be breaking up over the dissertation that would slice and dice the love to pieces.

But you did not ask that.
Why do you want to make what you make? Where does your art stand in your contemporary world? And Why do u want to share it with people? What are you trying to achieve?
After 20 years as a full-time practicing (haven't got the swing of it yet) artist I make abstract stone sculpture for two reasons. I have to and I want to. In between those two statements, is the arena that clients buy my work. If I did not have to make the work, it would not be as good. If I did not want to make the work, the work would also suck. Sculpting seems to be my work (just like Rod - Sculptor). It is what I do best. It also sets me apart from my fellow business people in town. It also pays my bills.

My art standing in the contemporary world is an academic construct. My art is meant to be a moment of pleasure for a passer-by or an exclamation point of calm to the owner of the sculpture. I am not worried about the standing of my art in the contemporary world. I am worried about people buying it though, I do like eating. I guess that makes me a meat and potatoes kind of sculptor, not an Anish Kapor.

Why do i want to share it with people? Interesting question. Why should I not? I have always believed that the starving artist who dies surrounded by his art is and was a fool. The act of not sharing is a form of self-mutilation culminating in an attitude of "the unwashed public just does not understand me and my art" and other relentless self-pity. Besides as stated above, I pay my bills with sculpture, art, and the use of my brain to get it into new venues. I am not a trust fund brat by any means. I have to work, I need to work - sculpture is my work [Oh Christ I am sounding like Rod].

What are you trying to achieve?
Possibly a sense of immortality. Before becoming a sculptor, I worked for a defense sub contractor. At the end of a days work as a sub contractor, all I had done was push paper from one side of the desk to another, made a few status reports, a couple of phone calls, nothing lasting. With sculpture, I have a tangible feel for producing a product that someone, somewhere will treasure. Maybe it will last past my lifetime. Hope so. Also, the sculpture is my vision, executed by my hands, to my standards. Knowing that I have personally made a client happy by means of my labor is a wonderful feeling.

Are these really the fundamental, underlining questions that need to be answered in order to peek your artistic measure? Is making artworks for the fun of exploring visual forms not enough anymore?
I don't think so. Making art that pleases me and other people is enough. I also don't get your second question. To me art is a voyage of discovery. Not always sailing a smooth sea but a lot of the time it is. Each new sculpture is an opportunity to excel and explore equally. It is never an either or situation.

Now that I have answered your questions mostly and to my own end, its your turn. The doubt and angst seems to be crawling out from your original question. All of the questions you asked really need to be answered by you. It is your dissertation. Maybe you should consider shelving the dissertation for awhile (6 months or so) and see if you really want to make art a full time object of obsession (make a living from it). If after a break, you want to go back to academia land and just talk art do it - but don't have any regrets.

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