A Year Without Art

Many of you already know that I made a decision to take a year off from “art.” What you may not know is why I came to this decision or how it wil manifest – what are the rules by which I am playing?

First of all, the why. I have a practice that is heavy on research, networking and fundraising. It is far from a solitary and peaceful practice of being in a studio creating objects. It is a practice that can be demanding and on occassion demeaning (yet another rejection? Another failed fundraising campaign? Another hurdle for permits?) Don’t get me wrong, it is also intensely satisfying, frequently a lot of fun and I wouldn’t trade it for any other practice. Lately I have also enjoyed a lot of success and recognition for previous projects, which is also great. But what that means is I have spent what seems like a couple of years supporting ongoing long term projects, revisiting/recreating older projects and generally hustling on projects that don’t feel new. (Truth be told, I look back and I have created a few new projects, it just doesn’t feel like it). I am frequently up against outside deadlines (project launches, grant applications, shows, etc and those (along with my teaching) keep me really busy, with little or no time to do new research, catch up on reading, sit and reflect or percolate with new ideas.

Alberta Night Sky by michellerlee (via Flickr CC)

So this year, I decided no new deadlines. No commitments, no re-hashing old projects or rushing to conceive and produce new projects. I would take a sabbatical from my arts practice. I will have time to catch up on some old projects (oh yeh, update the website and resume?) Read some of the books that have been sitting on my shelf, discover new art and artists and maybe percolate new projects and ideas.

So what are the rules about this year? How devoid of art will it really be? I think the primary thing I am sticking to is no deadlines. Discussions on projects to happen in 2013? Sure, as long as they are happening late enough in 2013 as to not be pressure in 2012. Opportunities to create new work – project proposals in 2012? Nope. Tying up some loose ends from 2011, yes, I’ve already committed to those.

Here’s the trickier ones. Creating new work in 2012? I am allowing myself a sketchbook in which to jot down thoughts and ideas, but I won’t develop them to any finished stage. I am looking forward to meeting with new people and learning from them and starting to think about correlations in our work that could lead to collaborations, but I won’t commit to anything in 2012.

I will be back teaching at Parsons in the fall, so I’ll have some commitments around that. I also am totally open to lectures about my work, sitting on panel discussions and panel reviews, participating in brainstorming and think tank type sessions, doing interviews…

I feel like all of these things inform my work without requiring a lot of time away from creative thinking.

So there you have it. I did an interview recently with my friend Matthew Slaats. He’s interviewing a number of people who have taken a year off. I will let you know when it goes online. Have any other questions? Leave me a comment…

4 Responses to A Year Without Art

  1. Grace says:

    I recently took a year off from art myself. It’s been a great opportunity! I traveled, did hobbies I never had time for, read lots of books, got into a new romantic relationship, lost weight, just did everything I never had time to do because I was always hard at work in the studio.

    I wish you the best of luck with your sabbatical!

  2. Claire Emery says:

    Just like any job, making art is demanding, except even more so, because we have to wear 20 hats all by ourselves. We are the ground from which all production springs: without our initiative and unflagging commitment, without our resilience, confidence and willingness to take risks, we would have no work no income, no support…Working artists are giants, creative powers, very wonderful, and very fragile at the same time.

    So, I hail you for all you have done, and I hail you for knowing when it is time to honor your inner call to return to quiet. Drink it in, take up a mindfullness practice, nurture your happiness and contentment. Fill the well. Enjoy.

  3. Macon Reed says:

    hi eve! did matthew ever post those interviews? I’m curious!

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