Letting go

As I redo my website there are certain images I'm feeling the need to let go of. In fact, I decided to remove the gallery "First days" altogether (the photos above are from that series). It was a project that meant a lot to me at the time, but was admittedly short-lived. It was one of those series that helped me confront my emotional reaction to my birth experience with Edie, but it was a fairly fleeting body of work, and one that I didn't continue to pursue. I shot a lot in a short amount of time, got it out of my system, and then it was finished. Still, it's hard to relegate images to the possibly never-to-be-seen-again archives. And now I'm struggling with how much to show in the space left over from deleting a gallery.

I have so many images from "Life is..." but I'm wondering if it's better to keep it narrowed down and leave the viewer wanting more, or to create two galleries because there's so much of a story to tell, and to allow the viewer to better become part of this world. I also have this nagging fear that in redoing the site I'll make it worse, not better. The images are going to be bigger: will this remove some of the sense of intimacy, or will it allow details that may have been lost before to be fully experienced? I wonder if other artists struggle with this. You start to get some much-appreciated recognition and then you worry that if you alter anything the love will fade. This is that defeatist voice, the one that fears change, the one that desires approval, the voice that I think is so often present in the mind of an artist. What I need to do, as always, is to remind myself that if I personally think the redo of my website is better then that's what counts--critics (and supporters) aside.

This is what being dedicated to your art does I suppose: it forces you to confront those interior voices, to bring those doubts and insecurities to the surface and challenge them, to cultivate your belief in your work and, as much as possible, dispel the need for approval that is such a human want. But it's no easy task, and I must say it's comforting when I read that other photographers struggle with the same issues.

I've actually been rereading Art & Fear which is a nice little book that my sister Katie gave me years ago as a birthday present. I tend to think that if I were truly "enlightened" (whatever that means) that the doubts wouldn't be present, that I could create work in my own little bubble and be comfortable with the possibility of never being recognized. What this book does is show that a desire for recognition isn't something to be ashamed of. Unless you're some version of the "I make my art for moi," nihilistic, beret-wearing, social outcast, kinda-crazy artist stereotype that pretty much only exists in the movies, then you probably care. The trick is not to let the caring take over the work. You know what I'm going to say next, don't you? Balance, my friends. It's all about balance.

I'll leave you with a few nuggets from the book:
The line between the artist and his/her work is a fine one at best, and for the artist it feels (quite naturally) like there is no such line. Making art can feel dangerous and revealing. Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be...What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those you don't, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.

Some people who make art are driven by inspiration, others by provocation, still others by desperation. Artmaking grants access to worlds that may be dangerous, sacred, forbidden, seductive, or all of the above. It grants access to worlds you may otherwise never fully engage. It may in fact be the engagement--not the art--that you seek. The difference is that making art allows, indeed guarantees, that you declare yourself. Art is contact, and your work necessarily reveals the nature of that contact. In making art you declare what is important.


Lisa said…
I am new to your site but I am loving your photographs. I'll continue to read more and comment...

Popular Posts