. . . . Trying Not to Cry Before Going to Sleep is a Good Plan . . . . . . . . .
CAY LA LO CK W O O D
Trying Not to Cry Before Going to Sleep is a Good Plan Graduate Research Paper by Cayla Lockwood M.F.A. Candidate in Printmaking (Visual Art) Syracuse University 2014
CONTENTS Part I 4 Introduction 5-6 Themes 7 Poetry, Language, Idea and Image 8-11 Historical and Contemporary Influences
Part II 14-17 Desire 18-22 Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness 23-30 Loneliness and Failure 31-34 Solitude, Escapism and the Moon 36-40 How Do We Exist: Everything, Nothing and the Space Between 41-44 Connection
Part III 46-53 Finding a Community 54-58 What Kind of Artist I Wanna Be
We are alone in the world I have half a bag of Doritos速 We could share Poem, Cayla Lockwood, 2013
My work exists in the resulting loneliness, melancholy, and failure that occurs when we seek failed solutions to utopian desires. Always being in reach of the truth without ever finding it. I am interested in small moments with large feelings. I begin this paper by talking about methods I use when creating art, and my influences. I will then discuss major themes in my work using examples from my works and influential references, placing my work in context with cultural issues and contemporary art and poetry. To conclude, I touch on the importance of community and how I find myself fitting within particular communities, ending with the kind of artist I hope to be now and in the future.
THEMES Beginning with a body of work called Magazine Drawings, I will discuss the theme of desire. Starting as gel pen drawings on photos and advertisements from fashion magazines, Magazine Drawings have developed to include a collaboration with a photographer, fine art prints, and a billboard. The drawings also exist on a blog and are featured in a variety of online art and poetry journals. The content of this work explores insecurities and teenage emotions. Relating to methods of advertising, I use the models in the photos as characters to sell an emotion to the viewer. With the on-going series, Text-Based Installations, I discuss the themes of melancholy and loneliness. These works describes heartbreak and sadness in short form poetry. Using common materials, pushpins, chewing gum or cigarette burns, I spell out short phrases like “You said you’d call, I waited all night” or “Come sleep next to me” in spaces ranging from the gallery to a dumpster. The materials I use emphasize the desperation and temporality of the emotions I discuss. Many of these pieces are placed in public spaces outside of the context of art. Loneliness is another theme common in the Text-Based Installations. I often use outer space as a metaphor for loneliness, and this is where the projects in Bed People serve as a good example. Bed People is a collection of work inspired by the social disorder “Hikikomori” and is about extreme isolation, searching for solutions to anxiety and looking for other ways to exist outside of cultural norms. The work within Bed People ranges from drawings to small sculptures, performance and video. The pieces in this body are tied together aesthetically by playing on cosmological imagery. Failure is the second major theme within this work.
Moon Colony for Lonely People is a collaborative installation project. Its primary presentation is a Geodesic Dome intended to represent a single isolated pod within a colony. MCLP primarily explores the theme of solitude,This project also uses cosmological aesthetics, more specifically relating to the moon. My most recent work Big Crunch delves deeper into Cosmology, being more a part of the content than in previous works. Like my other Text-Based Installations, Big Crunch is a poem written in 1,360 individual LED lights embedded into drywall that is displayed in the gallery as a false wall. I use Big Crunch and scientific theories of how the universe works as examples of how I try to figure out how people and emotions work. In the final theme of connection, I discuss another 12 foot diameter Geodesic Dome, For My Friends: B.F.F. Blanket Forts Forever. The exterior is a hand-knit blanket, and the interior is a handmade quilt, blankets and pillows. Its idealism and structure is inspired by Buckminster Fuller and functions as a place where you and your friends can all sleep next to each other.
POETRY, LANGUAGE, IDEA AND IMAGE I create poetry in unconventional ways. I see poetry happening everyday and everywhere, like taking cell phone pictures of trash on your way to work. Poetry is about being able to see the world differently, going beyond language to the heart of things. It’s about ideas or imagery described eloquently and with restraint. It says a lot with very little. For me, the most important components of creating are the idea and the image. Language is a simple way to describe an idea. While visual art can also do this, it often manifests into a product which can then be valued, lusted for, and/or sold. Similarly, writers sell their ideas in books: a tangible, sellable product. However these words are simply ideas that can be written many times, in many copies of books, in many languages. They can be memorized and repeated, quoted in freshman english papers, or written as graffiti in bathroom stalls. Words can be “remixed” by other people or paired with images. Ideas have a lot of possibility. Art objects do not have such fluidity and are therefore less compelling to me. One reason I was drawn to printmaking is the reproducible nature of the images. Reproducible imagery interests me in the same way language does. It can be shown in galleries, put online, or wheat pasted on the side of a building simultaneously, making them available to multiple audiences at once. Images are ideas manifested visually instead of through language, so they can communicate with a different part of your brain. The intersection between written ideas and visual images is where I explain the things deep inside, between the pieces of my spine. Things I desperately want to communicate, but simply can not in conversation alone. These things need an environment, a style, a careful choice of words, or specific facial expression to communicate the idea or emotion I am trying to express. These things need to be translated from my brain in order for another person to process and understand. And while they may not be able to explain it fully either, they will feel it, a ghost sensation in their spine, and we will have connected. We will feel less alone. Poetry, Language, Idea and Image
HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY INFLUENCES There are many artists whose work treads this line between language and image. My work has been frequently compared to the work of Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger. Holzer, a text-based conceptual artist, is known for public works including projections, marquees and billboards. She uses phrases such as “Abuse of power comes as no surprise” and “Protect me from what I want”.1 Like Holzer, my text-based installations show finesse and restraint in typography and language. They are also most effective when placed in public places. Barbara Kruger is a a text-based feminist artist. Much of her work consists of overlaying text on black-and-white images taken form advertisements. She often uses pronouns such as “you” or “we”. Her work criticizes power structures as well as identity and sexuality.2 Similar to Kruger, the use of “You and I” in my text directly places the viewer in the work. I also overlay my own text on advertisement images. While much of my work derives from this text-based tradition, it differs by declining to take a strong political stance. The magazine drawings have intentional tones of contemporary feminism, but it is quiet and non direct. I’m more interested in human emotion than criticizing the structure of our society, as screwed up as it is.
Left: Jenny Holzer, Right: Barbara Kruger 8
Historical and Contemporary Influences
Another influences of mine, Tao Lin, uses language more traditionally by writing novels, however the tone in his writing is unconventional, relying on a conversational style and over-sharing. In reading Tao Lin’s books, I immediately felt a strong connection to him as a person. Like laying in a bed next to someone late at night when you’re both a little drunk and they start telling you how they view the world and maybe it is distorted and strange, but maybe you’ve also thought the same things. In this experience you feel like you really know this person. Lin has this certain ability to eloquently and decisively spill his guts. As a reader, it feels extremely authentic. After reading his books I started following his blog and reading his Twitter daily.3 He uses social media liberally, often too much so, resulting in a frequent solicitation for drugs in his Facebook status updates. Anyway… the point is you feel the same authenticity from the book with the benefit of it happening in real time. It takes the art beyond a novel or single work to being about the whole persona. To keep up a serious artistic practice you must find a way to integrate art into your life. It’s also helpful to not take yourself to seriously. With the overuse of irony in our culture, writing and art with sincerity comes as a welcome reprieve. It does not even matter if the sincerity is genuine just as long as it is effective enough to be believed. Miranda July, similar to Lin, exemplifies a certain sincerity that I seek to create in my own work. July is an artist, writer and filmmaker. She uses characters in her work that seem vaguely autobiographical, but are exaggerated to explain a certain emotion more specifically. Her voice is often childlike, which makes sense as children are unable to distinguish the difference between irony and sincerity until they reach a certain age.4 July also uses the internet as a tool in her work. In 2013 she curated a project called We Think Alone5 taking 20 e-mails over 20 weeks from the sent mail folders of 9 participants including Lena
Historical and Contemporary Influences
Dunham and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Each week was themed, (for example: apologies, or sent to your mother) and July would ask the nine participants to find an email they had sent fitting the theme and forward it to her. She would collect the forwards into one email and send it to through a mailing list. This list was open to the public, you visited the website, added your email address and started receiving the emails every monday morning. What I find most interesting about this project is that it only exists in the inboxes of those on the mailing list; it can’t be sold. I like that Miranda July is not restrained by any medium. Her work is not only tied to gallery spaces, and she often collaborates with others or curates projects. Her primary goal is the communication of emotions. July has a playful and elegant way of talking about anxiety and insecurity. A good example of this can be seen in her 2011 film The Future. In the beginning of the movie, the main character, Sophie (July), decides she is going to make YouTube videos of herself dancing in her bedroom every day for one month. It’s going to be a new choreographed dance every day and she’s emailed all of her friends, letting them know she’s dedicating this month to dance videos. It is her way of following her passion. During her first day, as she begins filming, she immediately has trouble, starts doubting her decisions, beginning again and again. Each time she restarts, you see another loss of confidence. She stops filming herself and starts watching YouTube videos of other women dancing in their bedrooms. She further loses confidence, becoming trapped by the potentiality of not succeeding. She becomes unable to move let alone dance, paralyzed by this failure in her own insecurity.6 I find my work exploring these kinds of emotions, with similarly playful tones.
Historical and Contemporary Influences
PBS. “Jenny Holzer.” PBS. http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/jenny-holzer (accessed April 20, 2014).
2 PBS. “Barbara Kruger.” PBS. http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/barbara-kruger (accessed April 20, 2014). 3 To read tweets by Tao Lin: https://twitter.com/tao_lin 4 Jameson, AD. “What we talk about when we talk about the New Sincerity, part 1.” HTMLGIANT. http://htmlgiant.com/haut-or-not/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk- about-the-new-sincerity/ (accessed April 20, 2014). 5 For more information about We Think Alone: http://wethinkalone.com/about/ 6
The Future. Directed by Miranda July. Santa Monica, Calif.: Lionsgate, 2011.
Historical and Contemporary Influences
Jawbreaker, Cayla Lockwood Gel Pen on 5-Layer Screenprint, 24 x 18 in, 2013
Help., Cayla Lockwood Vinyl, 10 x 10 ft, 2014 14
DESIRE I began the series Magazine Drawings as a way to work through ideas quickly. They are about desire, teenage emotions, advertising, and language. Their primary existence is as quick sketches that are scanned and published on Tumblr.1 They are meant to circulate on the internet. A blog is a good place for them to exist as common themes of heartbreak and insecurities follow a “teen girl blog aesthetic” This place where young girls come to try and make sense of difficult feelings, gaining feedback from strangers and within the safety of varying degrees of anonymity. They use tactics found in advertising as a method to get attention, and quickly communicate an idea. Appropriating already existing images used by advertising or fashion I rely on the language to change the message of the original. In addition to the drawings, I’ve translated the images into fine art screen prints and most recently a billboard. I’ve found the most effective forms have been the initial drawings for their immediacy in creation and publication and the billboard for it’s large presence and public audience much like the internet, although local rather than international. Found advertisements are useful because they come already equipped with desire. These images are beautiful; these women are beautiful, yet empty. These images were made to sell you a product or a certain look correlating to a product. The women are stripped of their humanity through lighting, make-up and excessive photoshop techniques, and are empty vessels ready to carry desire. The advertiser simply has to display an image of the product or convey a catchy slogan within this vessel of desire to tell you what you want. I’m doing the same thing with these drawings. I give these women a voice, but it’s not their own. I’m not telling you who they are and what they desire, I’m using them in the same way as the advertisers. I’m using them as characters, giving them complex emotions and feelings and then selling these complexities to the viewer. I’m replacing the commodity with emotion.
Come Over / Overcome, Cayla Lockwood Gel Pen and India ink on found image, 10 x 8 in, 2012 16
The emotions within this work are unbridled, irrational and extreme. Using the voice of a teenage girl allows me to explore these emotions, these raw desires in a way that makes sense of them. In this young stage we are not in control of our feelings, even small problems can feel larger than life. This large way of feeling is the best way I know how to communicate desire. These desires and insecurities go on unsolved. They are approached again and again in different drawings, in different words, with different girls. There is an attempt to understand, to commiserate, but it is known that there is no solution. When you do get the object of your desire, the desire is then transferred… you desire you desire something else. Desire is part of our human condition; it is a problem that cannot be solved. The type of longing can be best described in the 2010 viral YouTube video 3-year-old crying over Justin Bieber2 In this video, a young girl named Cody sits in the lap of her older sister crying. Their mother is recording them and asks Cody from beyond the camera why she is crying. Cody replies because of Justin Bieber while uncontrollably sobbing. The mother asks why is Justin Bieber making you cry? Cody replies because he’s not here and I just love him so much and I know he loves me. This display of emotion is embarrassing and irrational. Cody has never met this boy who is the object of her desire. At merely three years old, she could not have the comprehension of romantic love. Although Cody’s desire is being projected on Justin Bieber, a temporary object, the pureness of her desire is something that is within all of us. She just wants to feel whole; her desire is unfulfilled as she is struggling to feel complete and content. We all seek this completeness whether it is to be one with a lover or the universe. 1 Tumblr.com, is a social media site where content can be easily uploaded to a blog, and viewed by the general public as well as “followers”. Users also tag their posts under certain categories so that they can be searched and “re-blogged” or “favorited” by other users. 2 3 year old crying over Justin Bieber http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTCm8tdHk Desire
MELLON COLLIE AND THE INFINITE SADNESS
Things that happen when you cry before you go to sleep: Your eyes get red and hurt Your nose gets stuffy and drippy at the same time You sometimes make weird noises and someone might hear you You think about all the bad things you’ve done to people and cry harder You think about all the bad things people have done to you and cry harder You think about all the good things people have done to you and cry harder You can’t breathe all the way Tomorrow your eyes will be red and hurt and people will ask you about it and you’ll have to say “ I have allergies… or something. Poem, Cayla Lockwood, 2013 Inspired by How to Hold Back Tears, a photo illustrated Wiki-How.1
Loveseat, Cayla Lockwood Doritos® Crumbs on Found Object, 1 x 61 in (text area), 2012
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Relating to others over somewhat universal feelings is a major goal in my work. Music has a way of accessing our emotions in a way I strive to do with visual art. If I feel sad, I want to listen to sad songs. It makes me feel better and worse at the same time. You feel allowed to feel how you feel, so you sink deeper in it. It hurts, yet at the same time is comforting. You feel that someone else has felt this pain and they transformed it into something beautiful, communicating thoughts and feelings from one human to another. In Text-Based Installations I explore ways of communicating emotions in the same way sad songs do. They are calm and calculated, the reflection of a painful emotion. They describe intense feelings in quiet ways. This series involves the use of common materials, pushpins, chewing gum or cigarette burns are used minimally to spell out short poems like “You said you’d call, I waited all night” or “Come sleep next to me” the materials used emphasize the desperation and temporality of these emotions. In a specific installation Pushpins I use the phrase “I want to be lonely with you” spelled out in pushpins, wrapped with thread and placed on a street-side bulletin board. These pieces are time consuming, requiring a meditative focus and patience to complete. The nature of installing them is important to their content and the evidence of this is left in the craft. For this particular piece I worked outside in a public place during the day, taking about 6 hours to complete. During this time people stopped to ask me about the project, and the most interesting conversation I had was with a local restaurant owner. He asked me what I was doing, and I said “It’s an art project, or maybe poetry, actually.” He read the pins and said, “I want to be lonely with you? I don’t get it.” I tried to briefly describe, “It’s like when you’re with someone just to not feel alone, not because you really want to spend time with them…” He said “This reminds me of when I look at pictures of myself when I was younger and had more hair. I think, wow I was handsome and feel happy about the good times I had then. But at the same time I feel sad about the loss of those days, the loss of the hair, etc.. I think it’s called melancholy?” “I said, you do get it, that’s the emotion I was trying to convey.” This is the kind of feedback that tells me the piece was successful. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Pushpins, Cayla Lockwood Pushpins, Thread, Cork, Variable Dimensions, 2011
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
In the installation Vacation, confetti-filled balloons are attached to a wall spelling out the text “Make Believe We’ll Never Leave...”. During the “one night only” show, map pins were made available to the audience. Throughout the course of the evening viewers who popped the balloons were rewarded with a burst of confetti, while also contributing to the destruction of the artwork. At the end of the evening, all the balloons were popped and the artwork no longer physically existed. It’s kind of like a trip to a new place or a relationship with a person that will be moving across the country in three months. Everything is new and exciting, (the action of popping a balloon) and it has temporary rewards (the confetti) but ultimately cannot last. You know this going in, making the time or relationship bittersweet. There is an inevitable sadness when things come to an end, but the memory of joy can stay with you long after it’s over. Joy is something that just can’t be physically held on to, but I continue to seek ways to change this, however impossible it may be.
Vacation (Make Believe We’ll Never Leave), Cayla Lockwood Balloons, Confetti, Pins, 2013 Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Similar to dreaming of unrealistic solutions to problems I can’t solve, I’m also interested in “practical” approaches to these same problems. Being able to say, “Oh hey I’m not going to be sad today. I’ve read a guide on how to do that.” Although logical, this as an impractical solution to the problem of sadness. How to Hold Back Tears is a four part photo-illustrated guide, giving practical tips such as “While not moving your head, look up with your eyes. It is almost impossible to cry when you do this.”
“How to Hold Back Tears.” wikiHow. http://www.wikihow.com/Hold- Back-Tears (accessed April 20, 2014).
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Screenshot (Found Internet Poetry), Cayla Lockwood, 2013
LONELINESS AND FAILURE
Outer space is a lonely place. It just goes on and on forever. An infinity of galaxies, stars, dust, and where are we? We’re too small to see. We are a lonely planet, isolated from all others. Space is cold. If you go out there without protection you’ll die. Even with protection you won’t last very long. Space is large and full of hope, but the kind of hope that’s only about 10% going to work out. Our bodies are like planets. You can’t leave your body and visit another body unless maybe you’re dead. It’s incredibly lonely. Cosmological imagery carries through my work in multiple projects. It interests me as a metaphor for isolation as well as loneliness. It represents an opportunity for learning and exploration. There’s hope that an answer for my questions is somehow out there, far, far away. It’s comforting to think it’s out there even if I can’t get to it. In the Text-Based Installation, Mattress, I spell out the phrase “Come Sleep Next To Me” in cigarette burns on a discarded mattress next to a dumpster near my house. This statement could be a call to a lover, ex-lover, or friend, it is carefully worded to avoid being limited to a sexual request. Whatever the relationship is, something is not working. The person who the message is for did not come. The person leaving the message is in a poor mental state, obsessive and dependent on vices. Desperate to feel a connection, this message leaver feels that everything would be ok, if they could
Loneliness and Failure
just have someone to sleep next to. This is not necessarily true, this desperation shows that the message leaver is in distress, unable to feel ok being alone. Another person is not necessarily the solution to this; just having another person to sleep next to will not fill a void within yourself.
Mattress (Come Sleep Next to Me), Cayla Lockwood Cigarette Burns on Found Object, 39 x 75 in, 2013
In her book On Loneliness Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichman describes what “true loneliness” is. She says it’s not just physically being alone, it’s not grieving, or missing your friends while they are on vacation. You can feel lonely in a room full of people. “Loneliness, she said—and this will surprise no one—is the want of intimacy. She figured that loneliness lay at the heart of nearly all mental illness and that the lonely person was just about the most terrifying spectacle in the world.”1
Loneliness and Failure
This kind of loneliness informs my work: a want of intimacy, a desperate desire to connect. Iâ€™m interested in the kind of lonely that happens at 3 am when your lover has fallen asleep before you. When youâ€™re celebrating in a room full of friends and all you can think of is how in the morning you they will have returned to their homes and you will have no one to eat toast with.
Bed Perosn, Cayla Lockwood Mixed Media, 22 x 20 in, 2013
Loneliness and Failure
As an extreme example of loneliness, I looked to socially withdrawn youth in Japan called “Hikikomori”. Hikikomori, usually male and in early adulthood, feel disconnected from society and chooses to withdraw entirely for a period of 6 months to many years. One typically stays in his bedroom at his parents’ house, not necessarily afraid of the outside world (as in agoraphobia) but instead withdrawing from communication with others in order to avoid judgment. In many cases this psychological state occurs after a traumatic failure, like not passing college exams or getting fired. However, it can also occur simply when a person feels fundamentally different from his peers. This condition is a reaction to specific cultural pressures in Japan, similar to how anorexia developed in the United States. “Hikikomori can see the intangibles, but cannot speak out because there is no place in Japanese society that allows them to… So,” she [mother of a hikikomori] concluded, “a person who challenges, or makes a mistake, or thinks for himself, either leaves Japan or becomes a hikikomori.”2 I realized that the extreme isolation of the hikikomori was not so much about loneliness as it was about failure, and a unrealistic solution to dealing with this failure. In the series Bed People I examine lonely, broken characters trying to cope with anxiety or failure. Their solution of isolation is unhealthy and delusional. The drawing, Bed Person, is an illustrative view of the hikikomori lifestyle, or for my characters, their “bed life”. It depicts an androgynous body in a blue shirt, with a bed made of stars for a head. The background is outer space, and resting on the shoulder is a pile of dishes with ramen noodles beginning to float into space. From this image, I created a sculptural object called Tiny Bedroom that is a piece of “space junk”, a cube 18 inches in all directions, with a viewing tunnel on top. The box rests on the floor while the viewing tunnel reaches up about 4 feet. The viewer looks down the tunnel and can see a small maquette bedroom. The room is lit as if it is dawn or dusk, in a dingy, wood-paneled basement room. The bed is arranged as if a person is hiding under the covers, sleeping 26
Loneliness and Failure
Tiny Bedroom, Cayla Lockwood Mixed Media, 4 x 2 x 2 ft, 2013
and some generic cop drama is playing on a television (out of view) emitting a bluish blinking light and generic TV noises. Tiny Bedroom is another, more detailed illustration of a bed person. This person cannot leave their room as the box is contained, the idea being that the bedroom is floating out in space somewhere and the person inside is forever isolated. Another part of this project is the creation of an “invisibility suit.” The suit resembles a haz-mat or astronaut suit and is patched together out of pajamas and slippers. When wearing it, all parts of your body are covered including hands and face. The function of the suit is to have all the benefits of hiding in your bed while still being able to function in society. Even though The suit is given it’s power Loneliness and Failure
of invisibility magically, harnessing the power of a black cat bone.3 Photographs of the invisibility suit display the suit’s ability to allow you to leave your bedroom to acquire necessary snacks and library books without anyone seeing you. It is not meant as a replacement for “bed life” as much as a means to get supplies back to your bedroom. In the 2013 This American Life episode “Secret Identities”4, Elna Baker tells a story about her teenage cousin Navey Baker. Navey is a mascot at her high school. She is a shy, husky, mormon girl who when putting on her tiger costume, transforms into an ultra confident performer. She had never been able to do a cartwheel, but one day at practice, in the tiger suit, she thought to herself “the tiger would do a cartwheel right now” and with no reservation did a cartwheel. Since then she’s done countless cartwheels on the field, in the suit. When prompted by Elna to try a cartwheel suit-less, she attempts but the moment her hands hit the floor, she collapses. She says “I don’t know I just got scared and sat down.” Elna asks her to put the suit on. She asks Navey “Do you feel different?” Navey
Invisibility Suit, Cayla Lockwood Performance / Photograph, 2013 28
Loneliness and Failure
says yes, she feels pumped, like she could run a mile or slide onto the field. Elna asks her to do a cartwheel, and navy does, flawlessly. When asked “What is it about that costume that lets you be that way?” Navey replies “No one can see your face, so no one asks who’s that? They look stupid. There’s nothing to be scared of, no one’s going to judge me for what I look like. I have broad shoulders and big calfs, I’m a big kid, so the tiger is based on what I really want to be like.” This story about Navey finding her confidence within a tiger suit is similar to my video firstname.lastname@example.org. This video is a screenbased recording of a person checking their email, in which they receive an eBay advertisement for the aforementioned invisibility suit. The ad directs the person to a YouTube video in which I had recorded a performance of me wearing the invisibility suit in various Syracuse locations, dancing to the Beastie Boys song “Sabotage”. The dancing is done without inhibition, like you would dance in your bedroom alone with no one watching. The ad is meant to show the uses of the invisibility suit, how you can do things without embarrassment because of this power.
email@example.com, Cayla Lockwood Performance / Video, 2013 Loneliness and Failure
1 “The Lethality of Loneliness.” New Republic. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/113176/science-loneliness-how isolation-can-kill-you# (accessed April 20, 2014). 2
Zielenziger, Michael. Shutting out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2006.
“To render yourself invisible at pleasure: steal a black cat, fill a kettle with cold water and set it on the stove; put the cat into it, and put a lid on top of it, and then, despite the cries and struggles of the animal, you are to hold the lid firmly down on top of it until it is dead and boiled to a pulp. During the time, you are not to turn your head, whatever is happening behind you. When the body is thoroughly boiled, remove the lid and pick out the bones, and, placing them one by one between your teeth, look into a mirror, and when you get the right one, you will not be able to see yourself. Keep this bone, and whenever you do not desire to be seen, put it between your teeth and you will become invisible. The boiling of the cat and picking out of the bones must be done at midnight.”
“Secret Identities.” Baker, Elna . This American Life. NPR. WBEZ, Chicago. 4 Oct. 2013. Radio.
Wintemberg, W.J. Items of German-Canadian Folk-Lore. Journal of American Folk Lore. Vol.12, 1899
Loneliness and Failure
Chip, Cayla Lockwood Marker on Pringles® Chip, 2013
SOLITUDE, ESCAPISM AND THE MOON
Poets often refer to the moon romantically and unrealistically. The moon is a bright glimmer in the vastness of space. Maybe here on earth life gets a little too tough for you and you feel like you can’t cope with the basic mechanics of being a person. You fantasize about how to escape. You don’t necessarily want to die, but you can’t stay in this planet, in this atmosphere. Here’s your solution: look to the sky and see that false glow of hope, that small rock impersonating a planet. A place like here, but different, and far away. Desolate, cold, and untouched by society and culture. A new beginning, a chance to continue living differently. The moon is a satellite you can see no matter where you are on the planet. All you have to do is wait a little bit for the lighting to be just right. Solitude, Escapism and the Moon
Hikikomori, when faced with adversity, choose to withdraw. They are not lonely by choice, but rather prefer to be left alone. They feel that they can be the most themselves when isolated. “It isn’t that these adults choose isolation out of indulgence, but that they see no other course. They need some “free space” in which to breathe, without the prying eyes of outsiders constantly judging them, forcing them to join the herd. The only space they can control is their own bedroom.”1 This option to withdraw interests me as an escape from unsolvable problems. I see an option to have total control. Instead of being overwhelmed by the vast loneliness of our world, of the universe. You can retreat to a single enclosed room. In your bed, you are in total control of your environment. You’re in control of your happiness. Without the pressures of other people watching or judging, you are free to be your true self. By hiding, you don’t have to hide. Loneliness is something that happens to you, beyond your control. By choosing solitude you are in control and therefore defeat loneliness. Such an extreme solution does not come without consequence of course. By choosing to retreat to your bedroom you give up your chance to make a difference in the world, to fall in love, to have a family, and to keep your sanity. Solitude (in less extreme fashions) has been a romanticized choice for introverts for a long time. The artist working alone in a studio, without distraction, or the writer in her own head creating a world and depicting it in a novel. Productivity and focus are products of solitude. In our collaborative project, Moon Colony for Lonely People Matthew Pritchard and I explore themes of solitude and escapism through a model “pod” from the colony, and the pod owners personal relics displayed inside. In addition to MoonPies® and Tang®, this installation includes a soundtrack featuring several different cover versions of the Beatles’ song “Eleanor Rigby” on repeat, and a viewing of the BBC series Planet Earth (for those moon colonists feeling a little homesick).
Solitude, Escapism and the Moon
Moon Colony for Lonely People, Cayla Lockwood and Matthew Pritchard Installation, 12 x 12 x 4 ft, 2013
Solitude, Escapism and the Moon
MCLP is an imagined utopian society founded on the moon in 1969. Using NASA space missions as a cover, the colony primarily functions as an oasis for introverts. On the moon one can be part of a community while not having to directly interact with other people. Inhabitants live in pods structured as geodesic domes, supplying all immediate needs for human health. Members of the board include successful and notorious recluses like J.D. Salinger, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. In the same way that the withdrawal of hikikomori is not a realistic solution, MCLP is an absurd answer to life’s problems. There is not even technology for life to exist on the moon. The “true” existence of MCLP lies in the delusional head of a fictional character. A young, withdrawn person creates this fantasy of a place where she can be left alone to pursue her passions uninterrupted. Here she can focus and be free. She will not be lonely because she is part of a colony. Others are here, with her in spirit only, removing the pressure of social interaction. Much like internet communities, an introvert can find others to relate to while keeping a safe distance within their own pod in the moon colony. This installation is a model that would be found in this character’s basement bedroom in their parents house. This character was created as a way to describe the mental state of a lonely person actively searching for an answer to the ways society fails them. While MCLP takes from Tiny Bedroom the idea of “bed life” and the use of a model bedroom, the character is very similar, but more motivated than a “bed person”. The goals of this character are to have space and time to be focused while also escaping social situations and the pressures of our society.
Zielenziger, Michael. Shutting out the Sun: How Japan Created Its
Own Lost Generation. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2006.
Solitude, Escapism and the Moon
Big Crunch, Cayla Lockwood 1,360 LED lights in Wall, 2014
How Do We Exist
HOW DO WE E XIST: EVERYTHING, NOTHING AND THE SPACE BETWEEN “All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life—where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.” -Miranda July
We’ve figured out that the universe is expanding and we’ve figured out that it’s not slowing down. We’ve figured out that there is dark matter, but we don’t know what it is. We do know that because it’s there, the universe is not fixed in time.1 Instead, it’s open to possibilities. It’s not slowing down and it’s not going to stop, It will only get bigger forever Recently, they’ve found further proof of this theory.2 Science is always negotiable, but this is more than theory. We now have evidence, cold hard facts, that the universe which contained all matter that ever was or will be, was once the size of a grapefruit , a really hot grapefruit,3 and it exploded suddenly and in a matter of seconds was exponentially growing, becoming space as we know it. This growing is not a slow and steady kind of thing, but a violent and out of control kind of thing. The universe will continue expanding forever and you can’t keep up. Before we could prove this Inflation Theory, there was another kind of theory.4 In this theory, the universe would one day stop expanding or perhaps already had. It would slow down and eventually start collapsing in on itself. As rapidly as it had begun in a Big Bang, the universe could implode. Big Crunch is the title of my most recent Text-Based Installation, as well as the name of this “other kind of theory”. In this piece I try to describe how my heart works by using cosmology theory. People aren’t like the universe though, our bodies are not expanding forever. We have a finite amount of time on earth. We start out growing, get stronger, expanding, but eventually we get older, we stop progressing. Our parts start failing, and we collapse in on ourselves eventually. It is expected that our hearts are to How Do We Exist
continue to take on more love throughout our lives. We have more lovers, make more friends, create new family members, and our hearts must expand to fit all those people in. Maybe you only have one lover for many years, but even then you must develop new, nuanced ways to love this person deeper. Your heart must continue to expand for them. My heart can’t do this forever. My heart is tired. It’s getting older and honestly, the wear and tear just from keeping my blood flowing is cause enough for concern. It needs to start protecting itself. So how do we relate to the universe? Our bodies are so small, and the universe is everything. Except there might be more than one universe, so there might be more than one everything. The universe is expanding and faster than we thought. What does that even mean? What is it expanding in to? If the universe is everything, is it expanding into nothing? What is nothing? Humans can’t comprehend nothing because we are a bunch of particles and each particle is a piece of something. But what if nothing is the space between the particles? What if our particles could expand like the universe does until there was no nothing inside of us, until there was no nothing between us? Maybe then we wouldn’t feel so alone. We would be connected to each other and tables and beds and coffee and dogs, everything without nothing. Don’t apologize for existing, you didn’t ask for it. I’m interested in how the universe works because I want to know how people work. I want to know how I work, and how emotions work. All of these things can be explained scientifically, but they need a freer exploring, beyond the realm of logic. This is the artist’s job, to explain the intangibles, the things beyond logic. “Artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.” - Sol LeWitt I like the tension of trying to explain a certain emotion scientifically, like trying to make a chart to describe your feelings 38
How Do We Exist
towards a romantic partner. The universe is the largest thing i can imagine so it seems natural to start here. This impossibly large task of understanding how and where we exist is the first step in understanding anything else about us and to get to the why we exist. I don’t believe I will ever fully understand how the universe works, I mean if we only know what 4% of the particles in the universe are leaving the other 96% a total mystery, I don’t think I’m gonna get the the whole picture. This hopelessness is beautiful to me. It’s a falling short of an impossible goal that I try to convey in my quest to solve problems like loneliness. This constant longing without reaching the end goal, the unfulfilled desire is what motivates me to continue exploring.
Appropriated NASA Chart, Cayla Lockwood, 2014
How Do We Exist
“Cosmology: The Study of the Universe.” WMAP’s Introduction to Cosmology. http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe (accessed April 27, 2014).
The theory is called Cosmic Inflation. ”New Evidence from Space Supports Stanford Physicist’s Theory of How Universe Began.” Stanford University. http://news.stanford.edu/ news/2014/march/physics-cosmic-inflation-031714.html (accessed April 27, 2014).
“Super Cool.” Horne, Ellen . Radiolab. PRI. WNYC, New York. 14 Mar. 2014. Radio.
This theory is called Big Crunch. ”Cosmic Bubble Solves Cosmological Conundrum.” Inflation for Beginners. http://www.lifesci.sussex.ac.uk/ home/John_Gribbin/cosmo.htm (accessed April 27, 2014).
How Do We Exist
For My Friends: BFF (Blanket Forts Forever), Cayla Lockwood, Knit Cotton, Aluminum, Polyfil, 144 x 144 x 48 in, 2011
CONNECTION Someone told me about this theory1 where everyone in the universe is actually the same person. When you die you reincarnate into a different person. It can be at any point in time, past or future and you reincarnate until you’ve been every single person there has ever been or will be in the universe. In this idea, everyone that exists is actually all the same person, who has been reincarnating at different points on the timeline. There is only one person actually existing in the universe. I like to imagine there are multiple universes and we are all playing a different role at a different time in each universe. In another universe right now, at the exact same time, I’m Shakira. I want to feel like we are all the same. I like looking into people’s houses when walking by at night, not too late, just right after dinner. I like thinking about what people are doing in their houses. Are they watching the same TV show I’ve been watching? Did they eat the same food I ate that night? What conversation are they having after doing the dishes? I want to feel like we are all the same. I want to feel like we are all connected. Connection
These same sentiments can be found in the installation For My Friends: B.F.F. (Blanket Forts Forever). Being similar to MCLP in it’s geodesic form, but differing in conception. Where MCLP seeks solitude as a solution to life’s problems, For My Friends offers “fort-itude” a place where you never have to grow up, and can always sleep next to your best friends like puppies in a pile. This is a childlike solution to the problem of loneliness, a place where you will always have friends, always have someone to sleep next to. Creator of the geodesic dome, R. Buckminster Fuller, dedicated his life to changing the structure of society to fit the needs of all humanity. Fuller’s ideas continue to inspire scientists, artists, and architects seeking to create better systems for our world.2 Fuller
Universe, Cayla Lockwood 2-Color Lithograph, 22 x 20 in, 2014
was interested in ideas that were efficient, doing more with less. The geodesic dome is the strongest structure you can create with the smallest amount of material. Fuller proposed the geodesic dome as a model for building efficient homes. A good example of Fuller’s utopian ideals is his 1971 project Old Man River’s City. In this project, Fuller proposed to re-structure the city of East St. Louis. The city would be shaped like a “moon crater” with the center being for communal space and the outside walls being terraces with individual houses, giving each family 2500 ft of personal space. The city was designed to accommodate 25,000 families, or 125,000 humans. Above the city was a large scale transparent geodesic dome protecting the entire city, acting as a large umbrella. Collecting rain and snow and recycling it for use in the city. The dome umbrella makes it possible for the house to not have roofs, everyone can feel closer to the sun ands sky.3 This project was never completed beyond early stages, although it was well received by the city of East St. Louis when proposed. Unlike Fuller’s ideas, the kind of utopian solutions in my work, could never become actual solutions. They defy the laws of physics or ignore limiting outside factors. I’m interested in these impossible desires.
Old Man River’s City, R. Buckminster Fuller, 1971
This idea originated in a short story, The Egg by Andy Weir. Weir, a relatively unknown wrtier, published this story on his website, and it quickly circulated virally on the internet.
Excerpt: “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.” “You mean mankind? You want us to mature?” “No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.” “Just me? What about everyone else?” “There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.” You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…” “All you. Different incarnations of you.” “Wait. I’m everyone!?” “Now you’re getting it.” Weir, Andy. “The Egg.” The Egg. http://www.galactanet.com/oneoff/ theegg_mod.html (accessed April 20, 2014). 2 “About Fuller.” R. Buckminster Fuller, 1895. http://bfi.org/about-fuller/ biography (accessed April 20, 2014). 3
Fuller, R. Buckminster. Critical Path. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981.
Facebook Event, Cayla Lockwood
Finding a Community
FINDING A COMMUNITY
a desire to find a way to live our own way to have a sense of community to see each other while on earth to share our lives, our pain, our talents, our thoughts to capture a moment in time that will be lost or forgotten and package it with beauty, love, pain,and all that we can feel as humans. Tiny Creatures Manifesto, Janet Kim, 20071
Belonging to a creative community is essential, and this is another reason printmaking has been important to me. While I do enjoy and implement the medium, it’s really the spirit of a print shop and community that I relate to. Working in a shared space offers a chance to develop strong relationships where giving and receiving advice happens quickly and naturally. Friends work together to edition each other’s work, and collaboration can occur easily. With a shared knowledge of painfully specific techniques, there is camaraderie over “geeking out” and knowledge gained from experimentation is given freely to one another. Alternating between learning from and teaching your peers is an important aspect of a community. Recently the internet has been more important to me and I’ve found another community there. Alt Lit is a new wave of writers who challenge the boundaries of written word, often crossing over with visual art, music and subversive internet culture. They rely heavily on the internet and a close knit community as a means of distribution and support. Many produce work in a new form called Internet Poetry, while others produce more traditional forms reformatted for digital distribution. They are often hip, young adults aged 18 - 29, living in major cities in Northeastern US and Canada. While some regularly connect IRL (in real life) Finding a Community
this community is based online, and location is secondary for participation. Themes in Alt Lit split between two threads, positive and negative. The first focuses on community, being ultra-positive, YOLO (you only live once), finding happiness, and following your passions. The second discusses depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, loneliness, and a difficulty in connecting to others. I find the content of my work sometimes fitting in both of these threads, but as an example of the type of community I want to belong to, I will describe the positive thread.2 Internet Poetry (and art) embraces low-brow aesthetics. Things are less polished and thoughtful but they are full of energy. You can feel the ideas and imagery are bursting to be shared. There isn’t time to reflect, edit, revise, wait to be published or shown in a gallery. The work is immediate and fleeting, being shared in a Facebook status or Tumblr feed where it risks getting lost in the massive void of the internet, but has the potential to become viral. Two examples of positive Alt Lit writers are Steve Roggenbuck and Hunter Payne. Their work is honest, naturally coming from within. They think about their audience, with a concentrated effort in making people happy. The work is humorous, absurd, often light-hearted, but ultimately carrying a messages like “do what you love”or “you are only alive right now”. Hunter Payne creates poems and images extensively every day. One of his methods involves re-labeling the world by going into environments with simple tools (label makers, tape, a marker and paper). He creates situations in abandoned sites with a small amount of interaction. He then documents these situations and uploads these photos to Instagram, Twitter or his website.3 These works are simple, funny and carry really brilliant ideas. They are poetic not just because there is a use of language, but because they are making simple statements. They show a different and refreshing view of the world. The simplicity in these public works relate to my Text-Based Installations.
Finding a Community
Top: Hunter Payne, Bottom: Steve Roggenbuck
Finding a Community
Steve Roggenbuck is a traveling poet, behaving more like a rockstar than a writer. He has developed an online following, regularly goes on tour for readings, and sells books and t-shirts independently as a way to make money. His most famous form of poetry has been in video form, featuring himself carrying around a camera and yelling into it. The content ranges from internet memes and absurdity to motivational speaking. In his 2012 video make something beautiful before you are dead4 Roggenbuck shows various clips from his tour stop in Santa Cruz. Sometimes he is wearing a flamboyant cheetah print hat. Sometimes he is yelling at a tree trunk. A scene from Dead Poet’s Society 5 inserted in the middle, sets up the main message of the video which is: We are lucky to be alive, the world is beautiful, and everyone should do something that makes them happy. Currently, Roggenbuck has started a publishing house called “Boost House” that is also an actual house in Brunswick, Maine. This house is a collective of like-minded artists and in the future will serve as an artist/writer residency. One of my goals in the future is to start a small collective like this. Alt Lit writers spend a lot of time alone on the internet. However it’s different from the reclusive writer, escaping to the woods for long stretches of time, returning to society with a finished product. Alt Lit writers “publish” works frequently, finished or in progress, often getting quick feedback from the community on Facebook threads or other forums. Collaboration happens quickly as well through email or instant messaging systems. Having creative people around to get feedback and support is important for my growth as an artist. In an interest to gather a community I’ve organized three projects in the past three years, a curated one night exhibition, a series of poetry readings, and a print exchange. The one night exhibition called Make Something Beautiful Before You Die brought digital works from the Alt Lit community, as well as work by local Syracuse artists. Steve Roggenbuck did a reading as part of his nationwide tour in the gallery and online, performing 50
Finding a Community
while holding a camera (his laptop webcam) and streaming the performance live as a Spreecast.6 Comments from viewers watching the performance online were displayed behind Steve as he performed. Additionally, local musicians performed and the audience was invited to make their own IRL image macros7 that were later posted online.
Photo of Steve Roggenbuck at “Make Something Beautiful Before You Die” Event
In the summer of 2013, Megan Sauve and I organized a series called YOLO Poets Society, bringing together our interests of contemporary poetry and secret societies. Potential members were invited online through a Facebook event. Inspired by the movie Dead Poets Society, we’d gather at midnight and hike into a wooded park with flashlights and reading materials. The only rule was that all material read should be written by “poets” living are recently deceased. Everyone would take turns sharing until we were too tired or too drunk to go on. Meetings lasted sometimes up to two hours and as many as 25 people would attend. Craigslist ads, twitter accounts, and song lyrics as well as personal poetry was read. Finding a Community
The Microsoft Paint Print Exchange also blends online culture with real life events. Seventeen artists across the United States and Europe were asked to design an image primarily using the program Microsoft Paint. These artist then submitted an edition of 19 prints to me. I collate the prints into 17 sets with one print from each participant and mail them back to the participants. The print exchange is a common collaboration in printmaking, giving artists a chance to collect work from one another, and an opportunity to curate an exhibition with a themed body of work. Works in this exchange ranged from traditional woodcut to digital print. In addition to this portfolio, the prints were exhibited at Biblio Gallery and online.8
I Donâ€™t Get No Respect, Trevor Grabill Digital Print, 2013, MS Paint Print Exchange 52
Finding a Community
1 Tiny Creatures was a collective art space in Los Angeles from 2006-08. Kraus, Chris. Where Art Belongs. Los Angeles, Calif.: Semiotext(e) ;, 2011. 2 For more information about and examples of Alt Lit and Internet Poetry: - http://internetpoetry.tumblr.com - The Yolo Pages. Brunswick, Maine.: Boost House;, 2014 3
For more work by Hunter Payne: http://huntermadeit.com
4 YouTube. “make something beautiful before you are dead.” YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bR6uOsDn-Q (accessed April 20, 2014).
Excerpts from the video:
“Two words jackass: Dog the Bounty Hunter, Two words jackass: YOLO” “A cock in the hand is worth five online.” “I’m not trying to be sad, your cat is going to die. Your dog only lives once. Guess who you can’t hug when you’re dead? Everyone!” “Almost everyone wakes up and does something they don’t like.” “MAYBE YOU SHOULD STAND IN THE RAIN! YOU’RE ALIVE RIGHT NOW!” “Hey fricker, guess what? We’re both alive at the same time.” 5
Dead Poets Society is a 1989 film starring Robin Williams. It is about a poetry teacher inspiring students to seize the day. IMDb.com. “Dead Poets Society.” IMDb. http://www.imdb.com/title/ tt0097165/ (accessed April 20, 2014).
6 Spreecast is a social networking platform used for streaming events online. http://www.spreecast.com/home 7 IRL: In Real Life. Image Macro: Image, or collage of images, with superimposed text, changing the context of the image or images. Usually funny. See URL for example: http://laughingsquid.com/wp-content/uploads/invisible bike-20080517-191704.jpg 8 Online Exhibition of Microsoft Paint Print Exchange: http://mspaintprintexchange.tumblr.com/
Finding a Community
Other Peopleâ€™s Beds, Cayla Lockwood Gel Pen on Found Image, 2013
The Kind of Artist I Wanna Be
THE KIND OF ARTIST I WANNA BE Hunter Payne and Steve Roggenbuck are good examples of what kind of artist I strive to be. I think it’s important to have a dedicated practice, that takes work but is also fun. For me I need to be around other people, so some of the drawings I make can be made at parties or out at a coffee shop. Collaboration is a good way to hang out with a friend while being productive in both of your respective art practices. Collaboration also helps bring out ideas you can’t think of yourself, it pushes you to do things you may not be comfortable with. Ultimately I think of art making being essential to a creative person’s life and should be fully integrated with their lifestyle. I find the most interesting art to be where the line between art and life blurs. To examples of artist’s achieving this are Ray Johnson and the Situationists International. Ray Johnson’s playful collages, mail art and happenings approach art in a way I can relate to. They feel like they are exploring gut interests freely and without inhibition. He was primarily an artist by how he lived his life, not by profession. His entire life could be viewed as a performance.
“Johnson not only operated in what Rauschenberg famously called “the gap between art and life,” but he also erased the distinction between them. His entire being – a reflection of his obsessively creative mind – was actually one continuous “work of art.” His works reflect his encyclopedic erudition, his promiscuous range of interests, and an uncanny proto-Google ability to discover connections between a myriad of images, facts and people.” 1
I seek to create work in a similar manner. Not to create objects to be bought and sold, but instead to create small fleeting moments, temporary ephemeral art, and opportunities to communicate complex ideas and emotions.
The Kind of Artist I Wanna Be
The Situationist International (1957-1972), an organization of political, avant-garde artists and intellectuals, is a great example of artists who rebel against the function of high art and capitalist society as a whole. The SI emphasizes creativity as an essential part of society, that it should emphasized more than it is. Creative actions should be an everyday part of life, not a commodity. While my work itself is not overtly political, I am sympathetic to the Situationists’ critiques. I often feel there is no hope in the white walls, and seek to place art back where I think it belongs, in the everyday. “…and although it declared itself [dada] anti-art and agitated against the notions of creativity, genius, individualism and originality inherent in the prevalent conception of art, it was not against the making, saying, and showing of things in which art is engaged. What it did oppose was any restriction on the means by which things are made, the ends to which they are used and interpreted, and the extent to which they are separated from the rest of life.” 2 A problem I see occurring with people striving to be artists or writers, is the idea that you need to sit down and make “a work of art” instead of just pursuing your curiosities with creative experimentation. “The words don’t matter, the image, the thoughts, the emotions matter, the facts matter. The best writers aren’t “writers” at all. They are people who desperately want to communicate images and ideas to other people, to communicate. I would say the first failure of a person who wants to write some stories is calling him or herself a “writer.” Because then you are going to sit down and stare at your computer screen and “write.” And not sit drinking coffee on a park bench on a pretty fall day imagining a scene in your head and when you have the scene figured out you go to a computer and put the scene into words so a person that is not you can understand and see what you want them to see so they can feel the emotion you want them to feel.” 3 56
The Kind of Artist I Wanna Be
To make art, things have to come out of you that are really deep inside, like inside your soul or something. The things in there usually don’t make sense so you can’t just explain them, you have to explore them. Art is a way to do that. So you explore these things inside you by making stuff and then maybe someone else can look at what you made and understand the thing deep inside you. Maybe they can’t really explain it either, but they will understand it. That’s all that matters, communicating an image, idea or emotion to another person. To do this, first you have to have something to say, a message to get across even if it’s not exactly clear what that message is yet. If the art is successful, you’ll understand what it is after you make it. If at the core of things you don’t have something to communicate, your product will be empty. Ultimately art exists to make people feel less depressed, to feel connected to other people through communication, and to be inspired to creating something themselves. “I’m a little taken aback by anyone calling himself an artist because of my feeling that that’s the kind of designation that other people should give. You can be an artist in any field, but getting a degree to call yourself an artist would be like getting a diploma to call yourself a genius. If your work is good enough, it can be art, but art isn’t a product. It’s a quality. Sometimes that’s lost sight of.” 4 I think the title “artist” is really the easiest way to describe a person who makes things either as a living, or as a primary focus in life. Other people understand this, and I really dislike arguments over semantics. However, after studying art in a university for 8 years, I really have become skeptical as to how much an institution can really help a person grow with something as subjective and personal as art. This is something I am unsure of and will continue thinking about as I leave academia, and before I ever return (if I ever return) I will make sure I have a better understanding of how I feel. Can I change a system, or help modify, from within? Do the benefits of education outweigh institutional problems? These are questions I’m still asking. I do agree with Eames that art isn’t a product, it’s a quality. The Kind of Artist I Wanna Be
“Ray Johnson Estate Biography.” Biography. http://www. rayjohnsonestate.com/biography/ (accessed April 20,, 2014).
Plant, Sadie. The Most Radical Gesture: the Situationist International in a Postmodern Age. London: Routledge, 1992.
3 Quote by Noah Cicero “Why I like Bear Parade.” THE OUTSIDER. http://noah-cicero. blogspot.com/2007/09/why-i-like-bear-parade.html (accessed April 20, 2014). 4
Quote by Charles Eames “Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect And The Painter.” Lacy, Susan . American Masters. PBS. PBS, . 19 Dec. 2011. Television.
Cayla Lockwood, April 2014 caylalockwood.com ohyesitsladiesnight.tumblr.com
The Kind of Artist I Wanna Be
Published on Apr 28, 2014
Graduate Research Paper by Cayla Lockwood M.F.A. Candidate in Printmaking (Visual Art) Syracuse University 2014