Art Homicide: Is it Common?

We rolled it to the point where it was a 7 foot paper taco and carried it down the street home like that. It was too thick from collage to roll up completely. Once home we put it on top of the wood bed posts on the frame around the posts. Every time I lay on the bed I could see the underside of my masterpiece slowly crumbling from the weight in the middle that wasn’t supported.

Having it there along with another big round mandala piece was not a great idea psychologically. If we had stashed it somewhere it may never have met its gruesome end and the other piece wouldn’t have been collateral damage.

Most people don’t get angry at their apartments to the point of feeling like destroying stuff, but I never was” most people”. One day or week I got so frustrated with the chaotic state of my house, that the feeling kept building more like a fire when it catches on to something and the next minute the whole building burns down. As I couldn’t burn down the building, I decided it was time to destroy the mandala. I’d been eyeing it for weeks wondering how and if I wanted to fix it as it was getting damaged.

Suddenly it was clear how to solve the problem. This huge piece used to hang in my old studio on one wall and took up all the wall space. It was up there so many years I remember looking at it and thinking, “What will I do if someone buys it or if I have to move it? Maybe it will be here until I die.” It felt that permanent. Fast forward to me ripping the whole thing apart and destroying it. I don’t remember it well even though it was probably only 4 years ago. After that, I took on the piece that was my height in diameter, like a lion after a kill who finds an extra dead animal baby and eats it just because it’s there.

Do I regret doing it? Do I miss the piece that I still consider one of the best or at least most ambitious things I have ever made? I don’t know because I had forgotten about it until I recently destroyed something else that I liked. I guess if I could have it back I would and it might be in my studio now or  I would have sold it and been happy it had a place. It did serve a purpose in its short life of being on that studio wall because my clidnts faced that wall when they sat in the chair across from me. I remember one client seeing a person in a wheelchair in the middle of it. It was a completely abstract collage. I can probably find a photo of it to post with this. So when it was alive on the wall, it was serving a purpose and beign seen by lots of people. Back then the Tribeca Open Artist Studio Tour still existed, so for those few days in April annually, I had crowds of people come through my studio and see it as well as the smaller piece.

I know a lot of big deal artists have destroyed their work, but in a very calculated way, not in a sudden fit and not something they thought was one of their best work. Part of the delight I took in murdering my big mandala was that it was really one of my greatest achievements, so it was a really crazy meaningful kill.

I have destroyed many peices before and since which I will write about in another post…

Making Your Art Work Versus Showing It, A Common Struggle!

I just wrote this post and it vanished, so I’ll start again. This is another short post just to bring up some topics and questions, especially for artists and art therapists and those who identify as both.

Do you exhibit your work? If so, is it very sporadic or often? Where do you exhibit it? If you don’t, why not? Do you have gallery representation? Do you want to have your art out in the public eye? Do you sell your art work? Do you enjoy selling it? Are you attached to any of your art work, such that if you exhibited it, you would mark it as Not For Sale? Are you easily discouraged by the competition? Do you find yourself making lots of work as a way to procrastinate trying to show it? Do you every get blocks where it is hard to get yourself to make art? These questions are not easy to wrestle with for any artist, and often more frought with inner turmoil for us artists/art therapists…

For me, I’ve been an artist for way longer than an art therapist, even though I didn’t go to “art school” or major in Art. However, although my artist resume has a long list of exhibitions at various types of venues that I have shown my work, I find that in the last two years, I have not really exhibited it, beyond having it out for public view during the Tribeca studio tour: (http://www.toastartwalk.com/toastartwalk/Natasha_Shapiro.html)

I don’t have issues with getting attached to any of my art work, so that is not a road block for me. I admit that I get easily discouraged by rejection, and find it hard to hussle and market myself as an artist. I am currently working on these very issues, by writing about it here, and by actively trying to look for galleries and opportunities to show my work, that I normally don’t get out of my comfort zone to do… I have always been lucky in that I have no problem with blocks around making art. While I may have a block on a specific piece or idea, I always have two or three other things I’m working on, so I don’t notice getting blocked. However, I confess that I too find it very easy to procrastinate the marketing and selling end of things. For example, I got invited to be an artist on a great website called “Artiscle”, and it took me about a month to make a profile and get some work on it. I still need to post a lot more work on the site, as it is a great opportunity to not only sell work but rent it out.

I find myself making myself promises I do not keep. So it’s time to get on it, and work through all the things that get in the way of trying to succeed more as an artist! Share your struggles and triumphs in comments please!

Quick Post About TOAST!

I did not post last week so this post will be for last week! I have the Tribeca Open Artists Studio Tour (TOAST) coming up this Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, so I have been busy getting ready for a big mass of people to be coming to my studio.

I am posting a few new “Scribble Drawing Collage Self-Portraits” from my latest series of work that I will be showcasing at the open studio tour this weekend…

To view more of this series or more of my artwork, you can visit my artist website at http://www.natashart.com

Artist Identity Topic Continued…

I have been posting here a lot about issues pertaining to art therapy and psychological topics, and I have also more recently posted about my personal art work, its connection to art therapy and being an art therapist, and the issues involved with the dual identity some of us have of professional artist and professional art therapist.

The Art Therapy Alliance is currently conducting an online kind of gallery called “Spaces & Places: Where We Create: an art therapy community photo documentary project”. For more information about this project and to participate in it, check out their website link:

http://www.arttherapyalliance.org/WhereWeCreate.html

In their guidelines for submissions, they divide their creative spaces into several categories that I will quote here. (I promise this will all tie together and in fact be more personal by the end of this post…)

1. Images of your professional creative space: At work, your internship, and on the go

2. Commonly used art supplies and media: In your art therapy work or internship with clients

3. Favorite technique: An art intervention or technique approach with individuals or in groups

4. If your creative space has changed: Before and after photos

5. Images of your personal art-making space: Where do you create your art?

Here is the link to view the photos and videos in this great project: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arttherapy

So I got intrigued by this project,as I think it is a great idea, and I took some of my own photos and found others and submitted a bunch of themi to their website. In doing so, I noticed something interesting that may be applicable for others who have submitted to this fun and interesting project; for me, some of the categories merged. Number 1, professional creative space, ie. my private practice where I work with individuals and groups providing art therapy, psychotherapy and supervision, and number 5. my personal art-making space, where I create most of the art work that I sell and exhibit, as you probably know by now from reading my blog, are one and the same space. The studio has also become a place for “play dates” with my child and other children her age and their younger siblings, so one of my favorite “techniques” involving “commonly used art supplies and media” was a picture of a mural made by my daughter and me and two other kids and their dad. The mural had all kinds of materials I commonly use with everybody who comes to my studio to make something: collage, paint, drawing materials, images from magazines, as well as some odd stuff like cotton balls and stickers that aren’t as common. I also posted a picture of one of my own scribble drawing collages as an example of a favorite technique with some of my favorite art materials of the moment, as I change the media a lot in my own work, which ranges from oil paintings to drawings, collages, mixed media, and doll sculptures.

Meanwhile, as I usually do annually in the month of April, I have been preparing for the Tribeca Open Artists Studio Tour. (http://toastartwalk.com). The preparation involves picking up flyers to give out, and inviting people by email, Facebook, through my artist blog, my artist Facebook page, etc., and now of course, in this blog post. It also involves figuring out how I want to present my work during this public event for three days at the end of April. Usually I am in the midst of making new work and feeling inpatient to finish it so as to see what kinds of reactions I get to my new work, as some of my old work is usually up already. I also try to make magnets with images of my work to sell for low prices and get my business cards together. My studio will be open to the public on Friday, April 27, from 6-8:30, on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 from 1-6 pm. The studio tour continues on Monday, April 30, but I do not usually participate on that day, due to work…

Obviously as my art making work place is merged with my therapeutic space, my patients and supervisees sometimes notice that I am participating in this event. Sometimes they are curious and ask about it. In all the years of doing this event, I only had one patient talk about coming to the event. I must confess that I was not sure what to say to her, and did not really say much to reveal whether I really wanted her to come or not. I figured the whole thing was much more “complicated” for me than for my patient, who was very aware of my artist identity, as she was working on her own artist identity in therapy among other issues. I also confess that I had a “fantasy” of her coming to my studio with her friends during the studio tour when some family member or friend of mine was there, and noticed that it made me incredibly uncomfortable. Definitely a “boundary” issue for me. I have encountered this type of thing before. Once, a patient really wanted to buy one of my paintings. I explained very clearly why this was not ok, due to the dual nature of the relationship if I were to sell art to a patient. It ended up being an interesting topic to explore and learn more about what the painting meant to this person and why he wanted to purchase it. The blue colors in it had a lot to do with this person’s interest in the painting. In fact, this person had strong opinions about a bunch of my work, including one big piece that has drawn all kinds of reactions from my patients, which this person did not like at all. This art piece that one has to face if sitting in the “other” chair across from me has generated all kinds of interesting reactions, a topic for another post that would focus on the merging of personal art making space with professional therapeutic space…

To get back to my point, which, I think, is about how I continue to nurture my “artist self” and continue to identify as an artist who is also a therapist, I am sharing information about my art work in different ways on this blog, as well as trying to connect my art work to my work as a therapist. So far, I have mostly done this by posting pictures of my art work as examples of different art therapy directives and examples of my personal journey as an artist. Now I am announcing an event that pertains to my personal art work and art making space. Even though I have been participating in this public event for years, (I started way back when it was a little event called “Franklinfest” as most of the studios were near Franklin Street), and each year the event is more publicized and the flyers/maps become more fancy (this year instead of one map and list of participating artists, art galleries, cafes, it is an actual “zine” or booklet), anyway although I am a veteran and know what to expect more or less, I still notice that I am not fully comfortable with lots of strangers wandering into my studio. It can be extremely overwhelming to have tons of strangers come into your studio and have to be “on” for hours at a time, saying hello, being friendly, answering questions, trying to give out business cards and sell the magnets and also the art work. A while ago I decided to write small statements about my work and print them out and put them on the wall next to each series of my work as I always show a few different series at once. It’s also a way to avoid getting the schizophrenic question, “Who are the artists?” and having to explain that it’s all my work! Also I have to be prepared for the odd person who peeks in and walks in the door, looks around quickly then leaves. One has to have thick skin for that! The worst question is when people ask me how much I pay for my studio rent which makes me think the person has no interest in my work and is just checking out the real estate downtown. Most people are polite and interested and friendly, so it’s not so bad. However, when there are about 20 strangers in your studio looking around at everything (they peer at the paintings hidden in the racks, they look at my table of mostly very used brushes and often remark on the bunches of tea bags hanging by the entrance to the studio), it’s usually nice if one of my friends has come by and is sitting with me. Once in a while people ask for prices, and I’m never quite sure if my prices are too high or too low. Sometimes I put up a bunch of small drawings and put a low price next to them to entice people to buy my small work. I haven’t decided what to do this year. I also get comments and questions about art therapy as my license and ATR-BC are up framed on the wall by the door.

I forgot to mention the thing that got me inspired to do this post, interesting slip! I just published it with the photos and remembered. I picked up an edition of the April Tribeca Tribune, a free neighborhood newspaper, and on page 38, there is an article about the upcoming studio tour with a bunch of images of different art of some of the featured artists. An image of one of my dolls is featured there! I was very excited to see it, especially as it is quite prominent with white space around it. I am including a photo of this doll at the end of this post. I started making these dolls I can’t remember when, maybe around 2004 or 2005, not sure, but I started making new ones recently when I was building my website and took photos of the old ones, so this doll is a recent work. There is a link to the Tribeca Tribune’s website, where you can view the newspaper version as opposed to their online version which doesn’t include this page. When you go to the link you have to turn the pages to get to the article and photos on page 38:

http://www.issuu.com/tribecatrib/docs/tribeca_trib_april

I’ll end this post with another photo of one of my recent pieces that I am planning to show at the studio tour and some photos I took of my studio space…

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