Graduate school rewards exploration. That is, until it doesn’t.
Last week I handed in my thesis proposal, and during the process of writing, rewriting, rethinking, rewriting, self-doubt, and more rewriting, I realized that it is called a thesis project because it is meant to be a connected body of work.
Which rules out the explorations I’ve been making: gouache paintings, suicidal paper dolls, murdered rag dolls, self-portraits, drawings of pill bottles, board games with snakes, and woodcuts. In the past year I’ve been all over the place, and it’s been fun, in a wholly stressful way, but now I need to focus.
Step One: clean my studio. This was either a desperately needed activity or an excellent form of procrastination. I gave away rolls and rolls of colored paper (the raw material for future failed giant origami), several excellent pieces of studio furniture, including my favorite pink chair, primed panels, boxes of still-life props, and a gorgeous ten-foot slab of half-inch glass. The Barbies I kept.
Step Two: hang cream-colored drawing paper, 42″ wide and 30 feet long, around three bare walls of my now empty-ish studio.
I’m going back to drawing. Not on pads of paper, but all over my walls. In public. I’m terrified about the mistakes that I’ll make, but I know it’s time that I face my art, my skill, and my talent and see if it’s enough.
I have one and a half semesters to go. In no time, SVA is going to throw me out into a brutal art world (some people call this graduation) and I’d better be ready. I have to replace my teachers’ evaluations with my own. I have to stand up for my art.
And I have to start now. It’s that simple, and that difficult.