Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The F Word

F is for Failure.

Failure with a capital F is about work, career.

In this city, I get in touch with my feelings of being a Failure. It’s in my face.

Love life, inner growth, physical well-being are trumped by Failure.

From a Buddhist perspective, faced with Failure, I have an opportunity to surrender. Give in. Give up. There is in fact no success. If I can do this, horizons open, barriers fall, and happiness is possible.

I would love to.

A start would be making art for art’s sake. But, I honestly don’t know if I can do it. I get excited. I’m ambitious. And I still believe art is a public act.

Any tips on making stuff just to make?


Mark Creegan said...

i dont know Molly. I have never lived in NY. Sometimes I regret my decision to not move there when i was younger, but i also know the heavy competition there which is both good and bad. Teaching is a good way to stay involved and living in a smaller market..well there are good and bad aspects to that as well.

Its something we all struggle with. What is your vision for it all? Mine is a show every two years or so, full time professorship at a college with a MFA program, a few friends with whom i can talk about art. SO far i am good except that middle one. we'll see

take care.

Mark Creegan said...

I just realized i didnt really answer your question. Having a website really helps me by pushing me to regularly update. I have a small audience and get feedback now and then. I know its not the same but it helps in between during the lean show times. I know you have a site, maybe focus on that as a way? Also having a artist friend or two setting up regular studio visits helps.

im sur this is stuff you know:)

Molly Stevens said...

Thanks, Mark. I appreciate the comaraderie.

Vito Polly Vincent said...

You are not a failure as an artist if you enjoy making works of art. Why allow the market to determine all standards of success and failure? Markets dominate so much of our lives already, so why give them free reign over one of the last things we can control - our conceptions of who and what we are? It's difficult to step outside of markets, even if only mentally. I have a tremendous amont of difficulty with this myself. But ART arguably offers the best hope for creating a non-market based understanding of the world. Or maybe that's just naive twaddle. ...Perhaps the the alineation in and of the marketplace is something you can deal with in your work? And who knows but that it might eventually generate some interest...within the marketplace!

Dana said...

I think you do "make art for art's sake." As you've said, your belief is that art is a public act. So, for you, creation that is not intended to be public is not really "art." Of course, some people do create for only the sake of creation, and I don't believe that such art is without value. It is simply not your definition of "art." I also don't believe that there would not be utility in your creation of non-public works -- I just think that you would have to determine whether that's a path you really feel compelled to take.

It seems to me that forcing yourself to create intentionally non-public works -- without any strong motivation for doing so -- is more likely to decrease your passion as it denies the very foundation of your sense of what "art" is.

That sense may shift at some point, or you may believe that private creation has its own innate value. But, trying to remold your beliefs about the nature of art seems inimicable to the current nature of your passion for creation.

I also think VPV is right to urge you to try to disregard the idea that "markets" are what define your success or failure as an artist. Although I'm not an artist, as a member of the public regularly "marketed" to, I'm reasonably certain that society and markets are different (if intertwined) existences. Creating art for the public must surely be an entirely different endeavor than creating art for a market.

Of course, one of the allures of markets is that they are inherently (if often falsely) quantifiable. Perhaps it is not your "failure" in the marketplace (even assuming the truth of such a thing) that you should surrender to, but your "success" with the public. It is so easy to count the number of rejection letters, unreturned phone calls, and unenthused curators; so hard to embrace, believe, and hold on to all the voices that have said your art has interested, moved, and spoken to them.

And I don't mean holding on to those voices in the sense of clinging to that praise and becoming mired in the past and in the ego. But, rather, to allow yourself to give into the idea of art as a public act, feel yourself as a full participant in that world, and see what horizons are ahead.

Molly Stevens said...

Excellent points.

VPV: the feeling (not the thought) is that the market is reality. Therefore, if I'm not in the market, I'm not real. It's as if the market validates.
Perhaps that's naive. The idea that art "can create a non-market based understanding of the world," is a something I need to think about. I love that idea.

Dana: along the same lines, "public" in my mind, needs to include some strangers. "Public" in my mind are those anonymous, all-knowing, figures.

Great food for thought in both the comments. Thank you.

Mark Creegan said...

i guess i hold onto the idea that those validating structures are not fixed. I probably put too much hope in the internet to level things but hey i got a show in LA because of the internet so,who knows. Plus the internet provides that anonymous public in my mind. But again this can be delusional to some extent.

Lets just say thems da tricks of da trade;)

Molly Stevens said...

Good point, Mark, about the anonymous audience of the Internet.

I tend to see things black and white.