Move Semantics: Rules of Unfolding opened today and runs until May 1st at The Elizabeth Foundations for the Arts' Project Space in Midtown Manhattan. It is my first (group) gallery show at a major gallery, let alone one in NYC. It's even (slightly) paid! If you're local, go check it out! You can book timed entry online. If you're not local, I'd love to invite you to the zoom walkthrough and reception on 3/31, and the non-human allies panel I'll be speaking on on 4/7.
I want to be happy and excited, but in truth I feel empty. I've been talking to some other artist friends and apparently this isn't an uncommon or unexpected reaction to your first show. I think the installation is beautiful, but also I'm disappointed that half of one the main pieces wasn't printed and I didn't find out until I saw the show. It definitely feels like a major element is missing for me.
I've been trying to pull myself back to my continued assertions that Art is Artifact. That this is just a snapshot of a process that is only just beginning. That the best way to do it better is to do it again. That there will be another show. And yet already in that statement, I'm saddened that I'm looking forward rather than resting in the now. I want to take joy in the present. To feel proud of my accomplishment. And yet when I stood in front of my work it didn't feel like mine. I didn't have this moment of "Oh yes, that's exactly what I was trying to say." I felt like a soldier returned home from war standing in front of their house, the door answered by another man. Or what's the gayer version of that? A nurse come home to see her wife standing at the door, her cheek red with the lipstick of another woman. Much better.
It's not about the work. It's not about the printings or lack thereof. I'm not shy about the work. I think it's good work. It's certainly not perfect. There are entire worlds to be explored that I haven't touched yet. But it's a moment in a journey, and I'm ok with that. The installation is effective. People have been responding to it well. Perhaps the curators choice was the right one. Ultimately, it's besides the point.
I'm less comfortable with the reflection of myself I saw in the mirror of my own work. Am I this artist? Am I an artist? It's funny that that question seems more real when I see my own art hanging in a Manhattan gallery than when my canvases were entirely imaginary.
I think the sadness is another departure. The continued widening of the gap as I leave the shore of my old life. It doesn't matter how unreal, toxic, or desperate that life often was - there was so much safety in hiding behind the masks that I didn't know I was wearing. Today, I looked at myself exposed. These last weeks and months, I am constantly confronted by my own self exposed. Sometimes I do not recognize the woman that stares back at me. So confident. So courageous. Standing tall and walking steadily forth. And yet I respect her, even as she pulls me forward half against my will. The only way out is through. I let her take my hand and follow, tipping my hat gently.
I look up towards the light.