I’ve been so busy with family life that I just know read about Rauschenberg’s recent death. So much of my work is clearly influenced by him. I LOVED that show at the Met “Robert Rauschenberg Combines.” It spoke to so many of my own sensibilities as an artist, to see incredibly beauty in mundane objects (crows, bedsheets, chicken coops, boots…). And of course he was a great printmaker, taking full advantage of the medium of lithography. Broken stone? Print that!
There were no obstacles to his work, nothing weighted, no waiting. It was all just there. I struggle so much to just get halfway there, but I think for him there was not so much thinking and thinking and thinking. My father always says if you think long, you think wrong. I find myself thinking myself out of doing, thinking a big burden on my work, stripping my work down too far. Then I have to go back to my work without over thinking the process and just creating by instinct.
It’s like when I’m driving sometimes and I know where I am going and I know how to get there but if there is a road block, traffic, slow school bus, whatever, sometimes I’ll take a “detour.” When really I should just stay on the way I was going in the first place. But is that sticking with the familiar? I must say that sometimes when I do veer off path, sure I get lost, sure it takes me longer than if I had just stayed behind the slow school bus… but maybe I’ll make a new discovery along the way. Drive by an interesting store, a tasty restaurant worth checking out or a cool dog park that I didn’t know was there.
So maybe the detours are worth it in driving but how much are they worth it in my work? How can I make the experience of a detour actually valuable to my work?
Someone once said that they hate the fact that when they work on something they start to think “Oh that reminds me of Picasso…Degas…Rembrandt… Kahlo…” and that it pisses her off. She wants her work to be HER work, not reminiscent of some other been-there artist. But once she has that artist on her mind she can’t beat it out and then every mark she makes is a Fridah mark or a Jasper mark or whoever. But not her own mark. So she writes the haunting name on a paper, takes it to the outside door of her studio and slams the door. Get out!
The death of a prominent artist takes me on this type of mental detour. I see so much of Rauschenberg in my work but I am not haunted by him. I also see Fridah’s portraiture, Michelangelo’s Sybills and Keinholz’s tableaus. We can’t help but be influenced, or rather, inspired. Parents influence children. History influences the present. The trick is not to repeat history. My work is clearly not Rauschenberg, but I am happy whenever someone sees my work and puts me in his company.