IF YOU HAD UNLIMITED FUNDS, TIME AND ACCESS, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I am afraid that I see the question as a distraction. The point of making art is to bring the self back to the the present. This is different from an “if only” notion of the future, a hypothetical condition which doesn’t really exist. Having watched this happen with other artists, the “if only” fantasy is counterproductive because it restricts a person from confronting their own reality, and works as an excuse to not move forward. It’s like trying to buy love, instead of cultivating it from within. Success, empowerment, happiness—all those qualities—must be discovered within ourselves before they can manifest externally.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT BEING AN ARTIST? WHAT IS THE MOST FUN OR REWARDING PART?
One of the hardest parts about being an artist is admitting to yourself that you are one. To be an artist is to surrender to forces that often operate outside conventional logic and societal belief. It means placing an enormous amount of trust in yourself. And even then, it can be difficult to find a healthy balance in one’s life as an artist. Uniting the spiritual with the physical is not something most of us are taught, or something that can be explained. Instead, it is a journey. We see plenty of artists who squelch or destroy themselves, but if you are to survive the artist’s way, the rewards are tremendous.
WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART ABOUT THE ART WORLD?
I am not sure any more if a distinct entity known as the “art world” even exists. I find it very hard nowadays to distinguish art from any other area of life. As a slightly younger person, I used to believe that I needed the endorsement of a gallery, a person with special connections, someone with an ability to promote my art in ways that I found mysterious. I realize now that if I don’t believe in myself as an artist, no one else is going to either. In the meantime, I have encountered people with less than a few years of education who admire my art with just as much enthusiasm as some of the most seasoned curators.
HOW WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THAT OTHERS MAKE ART PURCHASING DECISIONS?
If I were to offer any advice to someone thinking of purchasing art, I would say to completely trust your instincts, rather than letting an expert try and tell you what is good for you. Agree on something as a family. If you are curious about an artist’s work, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions of that artist, assuming he or she is still around. I see answering questions as part of my job, and I enjoy the dialogue that often takes place with a curious audience.
ARE YOU FORMALLY TRAINED? WHAT WERE/ARE THE PROS AND CONS THAT YOU CONSIDERED OF ATTENDING OR NOT ATTENDING ART SCHOOL?
As an artist, I would say that I am less formally “trained” than I am formally educated. My experiences as an undergraduate and graduate painting student probably left me with more questions than answers. Some of these questions are still with me as I spend time in the studio and with my students at Northeastern Illinois University. That is good, as it keeps me and others alive and searching.
I have no regrets about going through art school, as it made me more resilient and has helped allow me to pass on my experiences to others, and help them find their voices. But I will say that not everything I gleaned from my formal educational experience was the gospel, and some of the information grew to feel like excess baggage that I needed to let go of after the art school experience was behind me. In my early thirties, I got to a point where I became tired of hearing the lingering voices of my professors, and did all I could to rediscover art making in a way that was as raw and immediate as possible. The new energy came from working with kindergarteners, watching them create, sharing and collaborating with them.