Ebb and Flow
This morning, I ventured into the pool for some running laps. It’s an odd practice, and insanely boring. I strapped on a blue floaty device and worked hard to “run” down the lap lane and back. A single session seems to have loosened things up in my hip and leg and provided some decent core work. My physical therapist has banned running for two weeks, so I’m focusing on cross training and building up strength in my abs, gluts, and hamstrings; hopefully, in two weeks I’ll be running without pain. It’s become clear to me that there is an ebb and flow to running, and that the smartest runners trust the cycle without trying to push through it.
In pondering the ebb and flow of my first year of running, I’ve been reflecting on the week that I spent at Anderson Ranch in Colorado, working with artist Enrique Martinez Celaya. In addition to a week of rigorous dialogue and painting, I had hoped that running at a 9100 foot elevation would strengthen my lungs. I did manage some very pokey running, but I was breathless and dizzy going up hills. There was minimal improvement over the week. Oddly, when I returned East, expecting to have the lungs of an Amazon, I struggled for over a week to get back into my groove.
The main focus of the Colorado trip was artistic critique, and the week of dialogue with Enrique was transformative. I located some of the tensions in my work: grit vs seduction, being precious vs profound, concealing vs revealing, using mystery vs coyness, and much more. I saw newly where I manage these tensions in the work and where they fall flat. Throughout the session Enrique encouraged us (a group of 9 artists, mostly professors desperate for a week of focused art time) to consider how our lives and art are interwoven. He was direct. What’s wrong with your work is what’s wrong with your life. Look for the ways that you lie to yourself about your work, and your life. Look at your studio, your resume, and your relationships; be honest about what they indicate about your commitments. We tend to develop fictions about our artwork and ourselves as artists. Enrique pointed out that sometimes language creates a structural lie between an artist and her/his work. He encouraged us to use “low language” in order to “open the curtain.” To take this on is a powerful and revealing exercise. Strip away all the academic jargon and see what’s there. The bottom line is another reminder, like my in flight epiphany (in the first post): look at my life, be honest about where my energy is going, and be straight with myself about where I’m making decisions out of convenience.
Note Enrique Martinez Celaya’s current show, The Hunt’s Will, at LA Louver in Los Angeles.