|Cesarea at Dawn (2002) by Tanya Torres.|
As a student I believed the world would end if I didn't get a 4.0 average. In order for the world not to end, I studied very hard and did all my papers, attended every class, memorized every painting for the art history classes with title, artist and year. I had a great memory and a great discipline. And I tried to treat art the same way, but it didn't quite work.
My mind was occupied at all times, without rest. And art requires time, thinking, contemplation. I had a Chinese classmate in my M.F.A. program who used to spend most of her time in bed. She "couldn't work." But I remember her M.F.A. exhibition. It was entering another world. It's been more than 20 years and I still remember the feeling of stepping inside this world she created. An apparent last minute creation. But in truth, she allowed herself to lie in bed and think. And she was creating beyond reality.
As for me, I transferred these obsessions to my editing work. I worked and worked and for a few years after I graduated from my M.F.A., I spent up to 16 hours a day working. Not making art. It was a worthwhile investment, and I don't regret it. But I must now use the resources I created through that sacrifice.
Then I got sick and my first impulse was to paint. In bright colors, and voluptuous bodies. Lots of life, and regeneration. And I think it helped. But for some reason, that discipline that I had for school and editorial work was always difficult to achieve with art. That's because I approach the work in the same way as a manuscript. I sit down and start.
But when emotion takes over, I forget. I don't know how to start. Until I remember that sitting down and doing it will heal my treacherous mind. I sit down and start. And in 1 hour I will have recovered from any depression, negativity or fear. The world is shiny again. I am enlightened. But after a time I will be back to the same place.
The last 2 years have been tough in this sense. I had to move my studio to my home and this mean I am visually distracted by clutter, family, cats... I also got myself involved in too many commitments to people. Although I have done a lot of great and worthwhile things, I have not been well and my art production has suffered. It's time to stop.
This Saturday will be the last Mary Magdalene Celebration of the decade. It is a promise of art, song and dance. I have put a lot of time, effort and resources into it. And I have gathered a large group of artists to join by exhibiting and performing. It is a big thing that in a way has become a sign to myself, the meaning of the action/event itself: now that you have done this, it is time to shed that last layer of do it all, and go on to the next level.
The next level is finding my way back to that place I found around 2007-12, which was a blissful and artful period. I wrote my best poetry. I created easily and effortlessly. I am happy with that work. And stay there.
The next stage includes creating a proper studio space in another property away from the distractions of the city. It comes with a better distribution of energy.
It is the end of a decade of singing to the Magdalene, but it is not the end of the decade for me yet. I still have 3 more years until 50 ;) And when i get there I want to be able to look back and breath: "I have conquered my self-discipline, and my artwork flows without end." It will.