/cue "Rabbit Hole"
What does this mean to me?
Admittedly, this is a late post! I feel remiss but do not regret it. I could have looked at some websites and some images and written some words that would only refer to the academic or intellectual component of my discoveries and exposures. However, I don't think that this was the purpose of the exercise; more to the point, I don't think I would benefit from leaving it at that.
I spend a considerable amount of time in 'rabbit holes,' naturally. In other words, it is my nature to investigate a moment's inspiration and discovery to an unexpected place. Unfortunately, it makes me sort of odd amongst most of my friends and family. I am most likely to be the one to point out some esoteric aspect or 'fun fact' about something. But, I love raising questions about all of what we find generally accepted perspectives on various subjects. But I digress.
I had to first respond to the idea of where to find the 'rabbit holes' I would venture down. The worldwide web is not where I get most of my inspiration these days. But I did try to find some paths to wander down. Then, after trying for a few days to find some holes to drop into, I realized that what I do spend time doing does qualify as going down these paths of connection, reference, and discovery.
If I could review my YouTube and Vimeo time, it would be scary how much time I spent in there. As my vision condition has been significantly worsening over the past two to three years, I have been more inclined to listen to books and watch videos. However, this has not represented a significant inhibitor to my inspiration and knowledge growth. There is so much educational content on those platforms. And then there is also Art21 History, Kanopy, and many other resources when I need to find something specific. I have even dragged my wife into many a 'rabbit hole' with me. I'm not sure I know how to talk about the holes, however.
Professor Vaughn Wascovich is very consistent in his effort to get his students, be they, undergrad or graduate, to seek out inspiration. Looking at work is undoubtedly always encouraged by every faculty member I've ever met, but it's Wascovich's signature conversation. Indeed, I owe my confidence in creating successful works as an artist to all of the faculty who have suggested that exercise and to Vaughn for his insistence. I don't think that I've ever needed to be cajoled regarding looking at work...but sometimes other things seem to take priority.
My most recent experience was driven by my desire to labor more successfully with presenting my body in a sculptural form. I started with my face and wanted to dig deeper. However, I was stuck in the realm of realism. That is until one day while I was watching some teaching content on creating natural or realistic busts in clay.
Interestingly, when I looked at the suggested list of videos that popped up after the one I was watching ended, I saw something that reminded me of a piece that I made in undergrad school. I had created a piece I called 'Walking Man.' I saw a video thumbnail featuring a surrealistic image of what looked like my walking man, but with head and body. A stick figure of a man walking. I had to click on it. My introduction to that sculpture resonated with an aesthetic inside me that I was unaware was emerging. It was a video about the work of Alberto Giacometti.
As I looked at video after video about the man and his work, I recalled that I'd seen a trio of his pieces, these emaciated-looking figures, with a stoic expression and an odd sense of realism despite how surreal they were, at the Nasher. He suddenly came to life in my heart, his work or the passion in it seems so much a natural part of my sensibilities...the videos about Giacometti were typically connected to videos about Brancusi, Shutte, Calder, and many others from the first half of the 20th century.
I could go on talking about the discoveries...most of which were not really new names as much as they were somehow put into a different light before me. It seems that one must continue to go back to review works and artists that they may have seen before. What appears to be happening for me right now is that the pieces are encountering a different Robert. I see them differently in many ways.
I've been thinking about and seeking a greater degree of expressiveness since 2018, when I realized there was a part of me that was locked away. Many things were going on at that time that helped me to understand this about myself. I did not want to make art to make something that may qualify as art but to make something that is art. Not to open up the debate here, but I will go ahead and share that I believe that art intrinsically is inclusive of a voice on behalf of the artist. In this way, art speaks. What does it say, and is anyone going to listen? So I set out to discover what I have to say and make my works express on my behalf, hoping that all comes together and they say something others will be attracted toward. Along those lines, Giacometti's sculptures and his drawings have sparked a sense in me that I can allow gesture to appear in my work and that I should explore that more.
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Rob J Phillips