Knowing that you have to fight, to go to war, even the everyday struggle in the world with oneself is daunting. We all do it. Some days with more energy and enthusiasm than others. And then there are days that we feel vacant, empty, unreachable, unknowable and completely shut down.
The original impetus for this work was an energetic urge to redefine; to make figurative pieces reminiscent of memory and experience. To discard the unusable old and anticipate the new. And as days stretched into weeks, the thoughts subsided as the ideas I had once thought of as usable were not becoming tangible. They seemed a premeditated ambition that I had neither the information nor the tools for. So I went about the work as if there were no grand scheme, no far-flung, life defining answer. And little by little, what I knew, what I saw and what I felt started becoming. I was in a de facto fight, at the proverbial battlefield on some imaginary journey. Things began to take form and the smoke of my once unstoppable ambition cleared. I stopped talking and started listening. I could touch and make what was happening, simply and plainly. What informed me took over. Things like faith and generosity and care for the world and the people around me. The constant state of self-surveillance was replaced by observation of others engaged in the day to day, of other artists finding meaning and purpose in the tenuous thing we call life here in Washington DC. Even our miraculous new president seemed to be warring against things he could not affect. Through failures and errors he discovered that the economy and the corporations were organic. They had their own systems, their own wiring. He tried, he lost, and he tried again. Finally it seemed that some days he could break through. The usual dynamic of politics was subsumed by what had now become just the fumes of hope. And the change became palpable. What had once seemed fatal for other leaders became miraculous in his eyes. Triumphs and transformations often travel by way of adversity. Nothing can disqualify us, even mistakes or pessimism or hopelessness. To paraphrase David Milch, “ we are moved by grace even as we disavow it.”
I hate the current abuse of the word organic. My disdain began when the original brown paper bags printed by Whole Foods had a graphic list of all the things their foodstuffs didn’t contain, “ no pesticides, no hormones, no artificial colors, etc.” The last and most disturbing phrase was, “ no guilt.” To me this language in its context implied that everything we were eating and feeding to others was dirty, unhealthy and virtually immoral. But, by purchasing products, the bags told us, we could find absoluton in their corporate universe. Utter nonsense. And so I started rethinking the term organic. Air is organic. So is water. And acts are organic. The act of making things is the system by which artists and musicians live. It is the structure of our lives. And it requires no pre-meditated, consummate, far-reaching, all-encompassing manifesto. Being an artist is not like being a member of a cult. There are no rules. There is no protection from non-artists. But by singing and writing and making objects we endeavor to discover things we don’t know. We understand things by doing. We take photographs to put the light and time from our mind’s eye, our thoughts and our hearts in a frame. Or we rediscover and re-contextualize what we know by adding a color or a sound, a taste or a smell or a line or a shape.
So I began making pieces. Figures with curved shapes. Old wood hammered and sanded and covered with linen and covered with plaster. I moved and pushed and tore and stretched things. And I sang songs that did the same kinds of things and wrote words that forged allegories for them. I write this now as we complete the physical packages that the objects of sculpture and the vinyl discs that the music has been etched upon are completed. Typing poems that support the thoughts, sketching and painting and drawing images and assembling small packages containing the detritus of the months of process. And I certify that all of it is organic.
-- CWG 30 October 2009